PILOT MOUNTAIN — For those looking to release pent-up energy from the holiday season, Pilot Mountain State Park officials have a suggestion: take a hike.
A First Day Hike at the park that is, which will be helping to perpetuate a statewide New Year’s Day tradition next Sunday.
Every year on Jan. 1 since 2011, parks across North Carolina have hosted First Day Hikes and encouraged the public to participate as a wholesome way to begin the new year while enjoying the Great Outdoors — free of charge.
“It’s starting the year off on the right foot, so to speak,” said Pilot Mountain Ranger Jesse Anderson, who has led First Day hikes there in recent years.
On Jan. 1, 2016, more than 120 people of all ages laced up their hiking boots and took part in two separate treks at the park.
“It was quite a good turnout last year,” said Anderson, who believes the First Day Hike program there is getting more popular as time passes.
Next weekend’s activities to kick off 2017 will be held rain or shine. Attendance largely can depend on the weather, with Anderson pointing out that the Jan. 1 date can offer a mixed bag.
“There’ll be two different hikes,” Anderson said of next Sunday’s schedule, including a longer hike and a shorter one to appeal to all levels of participants, with each to be guided by park personnel:
• The first hike starts at 10 a.m. on Jan, 1, which will include the Mountain Trail at Pilot Mountain State Park. Its length is five to six miles.
“It will take about three hours, and we’ll talk about the history of North Carolina state parks,” Anderson said of the usual hike itinerary that includes remarks from the guide along the way.
Those wanting to hike the Mountain Trail should meet at the park office before the 10 a.m. start time.
• The second hike is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will feature the Jomeokee Trail, which encircles the base of Pilot Knob — a distance of roughly one mile taking about an hour to traverse.
Along the way, there will be a discussion of the park’s history, geology and local flora and fauna.
Jomeokee Trail is accessible from the summit area parking lot. Hikers are asked to meet the guide at the display board located on the upper side of the lot.
“The one in the morning is a little bit longer, but it’s still moderately difficult,” Anderson said of the terrain involved with the Mountain Trail hike.
The First Day Hikes will be led by Park Superintendent Matt Windsor and Ranger Dylan Joyce.
Participants typically are advised to dress for the weather and wear shoes adequate for hiking, and bring personal water and snacks.
Eno River State Park near Durham began the First Day Hike tradition more than 40 years ago, and the program later was expanded to all state parks.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.