NC First Day Outdoors invites everyone in North Carolina to get outside and try a trail to kick off the new year! 

2023 NC Year of the Trail celebrates North Carolina’s vast network of trails, greenways, and blueways which showcase our diverse landscapes – grand mountain vistas, quiet rivers, vibrant urban greenways, coastal forests, and the rolling hills of the piedmont. NC Year of the Trail is the largest statewide celebration of trails and outdoor recreation in North Carolina history.


First Day Hike!
Sun, Jan 1 2023, All day
Lake Norman State Park Visitor's Center
759 State Park Drive Troutman, NC 28166

Come out to Lake Norman State Park for the First Day Hike! Friends of Lake Norman State Park will provide Hot Coco and S'mores. A self-lead hike option is available all day long. A Ranger-lead hike will be at 10 am. We will talk about the plants and animals found at Lake Norman while hiking along the 0.8 mile long Alder Trail. 

First Day Hikes Ft. Macon
Sun, Jan 1 2023,  - 
Fort Macon State Park Visitor's Center
2303 Fort Macon Road Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

Start the new year off with a hike in your favorite state park. Fort Macon will be offering four ranger led hikes this year, all starting from the Visitor Center at 8:00 am or 3 pm.  Each time slot will offer two hike options. A short nature hike on the Yarrow’s Loop trail and inlet beach covering about ¾ of a mile, or a long 3.2 mile hike around the Elliott Caues Trail. Participants should wear sturdy shoes, bring a water bottle, and probably bug spray. 

First Day Hike or Bike for 2023 Year of the Trail
Sun, Jan 1 2023,  - 
Chimney Rock State Park Entrance 
Old Rock Cafe 431 Main Street Chimney Rock, NC 28720

Kick off 2023 “Year of the Trail” with this First Day Hike in Chimney Rock State Park!

A park ranger will offer an informative discussion about the park's history while the group strolls, hikes or bikes up to the 3.2-mile entrance road. Usually restricted only to motor vehicle traffic only, there will be no cars in your way if you show up for this special, early morning hike that is free to participants! Start at the park entrance next to the Old Rock Cafe at 8 a.m. Cross a bridge over the Rocky Broad River that was first traversed in 1916, and continue your hike through history until you reach the top. The park will provide shuttle transportation back down to your vehicles in Chimney Rock Village, and everyone must exit by 10 a.m. Bicyclists are allowed to use the road also on this special morning to climb and descend the steep park road under controlled speed. Helmets are required. Hike participants can return to Chimney Rock access for the same day at no charge. Bring plenty of drinking water and wear clothing suited to the weather and sturdy hiking shoes. This hike will be moderately strenuous uphill along a paved surface.

First Day Hike
Sun, Jan 1 2023,  - 
Hammocks Beach State Park Visitor's Center
1572 Hammocks Beach Road Swansboro, NC 28584

Join us here at Hammocks Beach State Park for the first day of 2023 for an adventure-packed guided hike following our more than 2 miles of trails through the woods. Deer, bald eagles, even an occasional wild turkey... you just never know what you're going to see while visiting the park! This is great way to spend the first day of the new year.

Meet at the visitor center.

First Day Hike
Sun, Jan 1 2023,  - 
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
Ebenezer Day Use 2582 Beaver Creek Road Apex, NC 27502

Join a Ranger on the first hike of the year!  This is a nice leisurely walk on Ebenezer’s Church Trail.  We will be discussing the lake’s history, Ebenezer Church and other interesting facts about the area.  The walk will be on an easy grade approximate 1 mile in length and will last less than two hours.  Please dress for the weather and if you have binoculars, bring them! No need to register just show up for the hike. Trail Head for the trail is located at the beach parking lot opposite end from the volleyball court. 

First Day: Beginning Birding and a Hike 
Sun, Jan 1 2023,  - 3pm
Wilkesboro Community Commons Park 
102 W. Main Street Wilkesboro, NC 28697

You like the idea of birding: of hanging out in the wild and being able to put a name to a beaked face. But how to get started? Don’t you need binoculars and guidebooks? What do you look and listen for? And where and when do you go?

Good questions all, and all answered as part of our Year of the Trail kickoff event, “Learn to Bird, Then Take a Hike,” on New Year’s Day. In the morning, the birding curious will pair up with experienced birders along the Yadkin River in Wilkesboro to learn to identify birds and, in the process, aid the North Carolina Bird Atlas, a nationwide program administered locally by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to get a good feel for bird populations for conservation purposes.

Because we want you to be as focused as possible on birding during this two-hour event, we’re doing a half-hour Zoom session beforehand to go over what to expect, the apps we will use to ID the birds, and to discuss logistics. The session will be on Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. No binoculars? No problem – we have loaners you may use. If you have mobility issues, this event will use paved greenways to explore along the Yadkin.

The birding event starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 11 a.m. We’ll break for lunch, then get to the “hike” portion of the days: a 1-mile, ranger-led hike at Rendezvous Mountain State Park. This First Day Hike is one of your first opportunities to explore Rendezvous Mountain as a state park (until recently, it was a state educational forest). The hike begins at 2 p.m. Rendezvous Mountain is a half-hour drive from Wilkesboro.

Details about the Zoom meeting will be provided upon registration.

If you’re an experienced birder and feel comfortable and confident helping newbies, please let us know by emailing Lelia at

This free event is sponsore by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources' Hometown Strong and Parks and Trails for Health (PATH) initiatives, and by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's NC Bird Atlas.

First Day Hike 2023
Sun, Jan 1 2023,  - 
Dismal Swamp State Park Visitor's Center
2294 U.S. 17 North South Mills, NC 27976

Join the ranger for an easy, family and leashed-pet friendly hike to start the new year off right! Additional details will be posted at a later time.

First Day Hikes 2023
Sun, Jan 1 2023, - 
Carvers Creek State Park - Long Valley Farm Access
2505 Long Valley Road Spring Lake, NC 28390

A long standing tradition of the NC State Parks are the First Day Hikes. Start the year off right and come join us for a variety of hikes throughout the park on January 1, 2023! 

First Day History Hike (Long Valley Farm): Join us for a 3-mile walk around the Long Valley Farm park area to learn more of the history of the park, going back to when it was a working farm and part of the Rockefeller estate. We will view some of the old farm and estate buildings and learn about the people that lived here and how the farm functioned. The hike will begin at 11 a.m. Please meet in the field next to the park welcome center.

Sense Hike (Long Valley Farm): Join our park superintendent on a 1-mile hike designed to introduce children (and kids of all ages!) to nature and experiencing the wonders of the natural world. Please meet at the picnic area in the parking lot at 11 a.m.

First Day Hike
Sun, Jan 1 2023, - 2
Elk Knob State Park 
5564 Meat Camp Road Todd, NC 28684

Start the new year right with a hike along the Beach Tree Trail. Hear about the natural history of the area and what plans are being made for the park during the "Year of the Trail." Meet at the trailhead parking lot at 1 p.m.

2023 First Day Hike
Sun, Jan 1 2023, - 
Falls Lake State Recreation Area - Rolling View Access
4201 Baptist Road Durham, NC 27703

Come celebrate the new year with us by taking a hike on the Rolling View Kids in Parks Track Trail! This ranger-led hike will focus on our 2023 theme, Year of the Trail, while hiking the 0.75-mile loop. Bring a good pair of shoes and some water, and get ready for a good time!

First Day Hike
Sun, Jan 1 2023, 2 - 3pm
Jones Lake State Park
4117 Hwy 242 North Elizabethtown, NC 28337

Join a park ranger and start the New Year learning about the geological mysteries of the Carolina Bays. Formation theories and the natural communities associated with Carolina Bays will be discussed. Participants should meet at the Jones Lake State Park visitor center at 2pm. Call the park at 910-588-4550 for more information. This event is free of charge and open to the public.