First Day Hikes in Southwest Virginia

Ring in 2023 with a First Day Hike

Seven New Year’s Day Hikes You Won’t Want to Miss in Southwestern Virginia

Since 2012, America’s State Parks have been encouraging people to get up, get out, and get active with their First Day hikes initiative. And it’s become a tradition that many people look forward to all year long. However, it’s not just for outdoor enthusiasts and nature-lovers. People of all ages, solo hikers, families, those with pets, and more have found the First Day hike to be just what the doctor ordered.

Plus, what better way to reflect on the year gone by – and the one to come?

So, we encourage you to embrace the chill. Reconnect with nature. Find your inner peace with an introspective hike at any one of our four state parks or our interstate park.

Kick off the New Year by kicking up some dirt!

From the traditional to the self-guided, First Day hikes are sponsored events at many locations. However, you don’t need an invitation to simply strap on your boots or sneakers and hit the trail. Though, if you’re looking for locations where First Day hikes are currently being advertised, look no further.

These seven hikes in Virginia’s Great Southwest will inspire you all year long.

Breaks Interstate Park overlook (First Day Hike)

With over 20 different trails – from the highly technical Cardiac Hill Trail to the lazy Loop Trail – ring in the New Year with a self-guided hike at Breaks Interstate Park. Send in a photo of yourself and your hiking party trekking the trails in the park, and you’ll receive a free commemorative First Day Hike sticker.

Celebrate the New Year on January 1st with a First Day Hike on the Pickem Mountain Loop! Located in the Flag Rock Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest, the five-mile Pickem Mountain Loop is a popular trail for good reason. It’s a favorite among birders, hikers and mountain bikers. With fascinating undercut rock formations and imposing cliffs and boulders, there’s so much to see and explore. Pre-registration is required.
First Day Hike at Wilderness Road State Park-Martin's Station

If you’d rather avoid 2023 entirely and journey back in time, this mile-long hike at Wilderness Road State Park is just the ticket. Virginia’s frontier past awaits and can be enjoyed with this guided tour or with the assistance of a self-guided brochure (available at the Martin’s Station kiosk). Five stops along the way will invite hikers to “experience the majesty of the American bison, the rustling of the iconic ‘Bear Grass,’ and the warmth of Martin’s Station.”

Are you a romantic at heart? Why not leap into the New Year with a hike to Lovers’ Leap at Natural Tunnel State Park? This guided, two-mile hike will take you on a journey of star-crossed lovers. Of course, it’ll also take you across several inclines and declines. So, you’re encouraged to wear sturdy shoes and dress appropriately. Fur-babies are welcome but must be leashed.

First Day Hike at Natural Tunnel's Purchase Ridge Overlook

Eager to begin your New Year on a “high?” Purchase Ridge at Natural Tunnel State Park is one of the highest points in the park and offers hikers a spectacular view. This ranger-led, 3.5-mile hike will certainly help you burn some of those holiday-induced calories.

First Day Hike at Clinch River State Park

Get that heart pumping at Clinch River State Park. This ranger-led, three-mile hike will take you on a rugged trek from the Oxbow Dam to the ruins of the French Settlement and back again. Traveling along the Sugar Hill Loop Trail and the Hillside Trail, this hike features breathtaking views and photo-worthy spots you’ll want to bring your camera to capture.

There’s no better way to ring in the New Year than by appreciating the wonders of nature. Learn more about the majesty of Natural Tunnel on this half-mile guided hike. Then, get your blood pumping as you traipse along various sets of stairs back up the trail.

While you might love these traditional and self-guided hike suggestions, don’t forget that we have a host of trails throughout Southwestern Virginia that are even further off the beaten path.

All hikers should remember to dress appropriately, bring water and snacks, and check with each location for accessibility inquiries and restrictions.