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Start the new year off with a hike at a Virginia park

Holly Viers • Dec 27, 2017 at 7:00 PM

If you want to be more active in 2018, Virginia State Parks can help you start the year on the right foot.

On New Year’s Day, parks throughout the commonwealth will host hikes for a variety of skill levels, with free parking and a photo contest.

Natural Tunnel State Park

Early risers can hike the park’s Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail at 10 a.m. On this 0.7-mile moderate hike, a guide will lead visitors through various habitats, and some wildlife might make an appearance. Meet at the Blockhouse parking lot.

The second guided hike, called the “Tunnel Trek,” will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Visitors Center. It will start off with a 0.7-mile journey on the Lover’s Leap Trail, which will allow hikers to see the park and its mountains from a different perspective.

Afterward, hikers can take an optional 0.5-mile trip along the strenuous Tunnel Hill Trail, which leads to the mouth of Natural Tunnel.

Southwest Virginia Museum

Beginning at 1 p.m. at the museum front gate, hikers can take a journey through the rich history of Big Stone Gap. Participants will walk about 2 miles along the streets before joining the Greenbelt along the Powell River.

After this easy walk, participants will be able to recognize many of the sites from the movie “Big Stone Gap.”

Wilderness Road State Park

Enjoy a guided 1.25-mile hike down the Pioneer Trail beginning at 2 p.m. During the journey, hikers will catch a glimpse of some American bison in their thick winter coats in addition to the park’s native camp with its authentically re-created dwellings.

This hike is sure to please nature lovers and history buffs alike. Participants should meet at the Visitors Center.

Other options

If you don’t mind driving a few extra miles, several other parks will also be offering hikes on Monday, including Hungry Mother State Park in Marion. A guided 2.5-mile Lake Trail hike will begin at 10 a.m., and self-guided hikes can be made throughout the day on the same trail.

Another option is Grayson Highlands State Park in Grayson County. A 2-mile guided hike on the Rhododendron Trail will begin at 1 p.m., and participants might even see a few wild ponies.

To learn more about the photo contest, visit http://vspfdh2018.hscampaigns.com. For the complete list of New Year’s Day hikes, visit http://bit.ly/VSPFDH2018.

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