January first is the day of the First Day Hike, which many state parks take part in nationwide.
Just six years ago, West Virginia State Parks began taking part in this tradition.
A total of 73 hikers went on this New Year’s Day Hike hosted by the Blackwater Falls State Park. The group took a 3 mile hike along trails in the park.
“It’s just a way to get people out and enjoying nature, starting off the New Year, with the right foot, if you will,” said Paulita Cousin, Park Activities Coordinator and Naturalist.
Along the hike, guests were able to pause and learn about local history of the area, along with facts about plants along the trail from the guide, Paulita Cousin.
“The temperature was great, you couldn’t ask for a better hiking day,” said Paulita Cousin.
One of the main trails taken was to the Lindy Point Overlook, which is one of the most photographed spots in West Virginia.
The hike is slow paced so that those on the walk can take in their surroundings.
“It is very leisurely paced which tends to make people enjoy and appreciate what’s around them, which, they start out being all tense, but they tend to calm down. The more you are out in nature, the better off your are calming down,” said Paulita Cousin.
Cousin says that hiking is good for the soul.
“It’s been proven that people, when they get out into nature, and begin to hike, it’s a great way to calm yourself. I usually say it is a way of taking care of your spirit. It lowers your blood pressure, and just overall gives you a very calming effect,” said Paulita Cousin.
Cousin also says that it is important to involve the younger generation in nature hikes like this one.
“Anytime you can get people, especially kids, we’ve had a lot of kids this morning. That’s our future. So if you can get them to appreciate and love, and want to protect nature, then I’ve succeeded in my profession,” said Paulita Cousin.