Photo courtesy Rachel Garton Weber

*Rescheduled* First-ever ‘First Day’ hike set to take place in Upshur County’s own backyard

Update: The hike has been rescheduled for Saturday, January 8 at noon!

BUCKHANNON – We have all heard that we should be incorporating more exercise and movement in our daily lives, and we have all read the American Heart Association recommends folks get at least 10,000 steps or approximately five miles of walking per day.

Each year, throughout West Virginia and the United States, outdoor enthusiasts gather at trails and at West Virginia State Parks to participate in the first-day hikes where people are encouraged to ‘start their new year on the right foot’ by getting outdoors, getting their hearts pumping and enjoying the beauty of nature.

The American Hiking Society said that last year, approximately 55,000 people rang in the New Year by collectively hiking more than 133,000 miles throughout the country on First Day Hikes.

This year, a new location has been added, and it is close to home. The Upshur County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Laura Meadows said the idea to include the Upshur County Trails as a location for a First Day Hike came from the national movement and the hikes held each Jan. 1 at various West Virginia State Parks.

“I started looking at the calendar for 2022 to see what I could add to what is happening in Buckhannon for January and I did not see any hikes and thought that was unfortunate,” Meadows said. “I messaged Rachel (Garton Weber) because she is a doer, and I asked her if she thought it would be a good opportunity. She took the idea and literally ran with it.”

Meadows said just the thought of starting a fresh year outside enjoying something we have in our own backyard made it a great idea.

“Folks do not have to travel to a national or even one of our West Virginia State Parks – we have an amazing outdoor recreational complex right here at the Upshur County Trails – and I think we need to highlight it, support it and help it grow,” Meadows said. “I will be looking in to see if it is not too late to add our location in with the sites throughout West Virginia. I mean, why not? We have a solid group of residents who take advantage of the Upshur County Trails and looking at the data, we are seeing visitors to the area who are using the site because it is so accessible and is a great offering for people.”

Meadows said she hopes Jan. 1, 2022, greets everyone with just a dusting of snow – but it is not too cold.

“It would make it beautiful,” she said.

Rachel Garton Weber, a volunteer with Upshur County Trails, said the first-ever Upshur County Trails First Day Hike or Mountain Bike Ride is scheduled for noon on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022.

“Laura Meadows messaged me a few weeks ago with the idea of having a First Day Hike on the Upshur County Trails,” Weber said. “I have seen these advertised in the West Virginia State Parks and I thought it was a great idea.”

Weber said prior to that conversation, the Upshur County Trails group knew they were going to have some residual funds from the Try This West Virginia Grant they had received.

“We came in way under budget in our equipment rental,” Weber shared. “So, when I was speaking with Try This West Virginia Executive Director Brittney Barlett, she suggested doing an event with some of the leftover money. When Laura Meadows suggested the First Day Hike/Mountain Bike Ride, I thought that would be a good way of putting two and two together.”

Weber said Barlett approved the modification of the grant and used funds to advertise the hike and mountain bike ride. She also used funds to purchase Upshur County Trails swag to give away to participants who partake in the Jan. 1, 2022, event.

“We will meet at the arches at noon at the Upshur County Trails for the First Day Hike/Mountain Bike Ride,” Weber shared. “I will be leading the hike and Jumping John Weber will probably be leading the ride. I will start off the hike, and we will probably not do the entire seven miles; however, I imagine the mountain bikers will go the entire seven miles. I will cut off some of the areas and let folks know some of the good areas to duck out if they do not want to hike the entire seven miles of trails.”

Weber said the hike is appropriate for all age groups, as long as folks are capable of safely hiking on uneven terrain.

“Make sure you bring a hiking pole if you usually need one and make sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes and dress for the weather,” Weber said. “Also, folks should bring along water to drink and some snacks. I will get people acclimated to the trail system here and how it works and how it flows.”

People who plan to go on the mountain bike ride should probably have some experience riding mountain bike trails, she added.

Weber said folks can go on to Upshur County Trails Facebook site if the weather is inclement to see if the event will be rescheduled.

“If there is a little bit of snow, we will probably forage on,” she said. “But if it is frigid with a heavy downpour, we may have to reschedule the event.”

Weber said she hopes people who have been curious about the trails and those who use the trails a lot will all come out and participate in the First Day Hike/Mountain Bike Ride.

“This will be a good way for people to learn the Upshur County Trails system,” Weber said. “We are hoping this will be a successful event and will be doing it in years to come.”

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