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Active Southern West Virginia, which partners with the New River Gorge National River to provide enhanced outdoor exercise opportunities in the region it serves, is expanding into the state parks system to host monthly guided hikes.
The four-year-old nonprofit dedicated to improving regional public health offers a variety of group activities in the New River Gorge, ranging from tai chi and yoga to the basics of rock climbing and stand-up paddleboarding. The activities are led by trained "community captains and are offered free to the public.
Starting in April, Active Southern West Virginia will begin offering First Sunday hikes in four New River Gorge area state parks — Bluestone, Pipestem, Babcock and Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park. The hikes, free and open to people of all ages and abilities, will take place on the first Sunday of each month, starting on April 1 at Pipestem.
"The ability to take the success we've seen with our partnership with the National Park Service and expand that into our state parks is extremely exciting, said Levi Moore, one of two community captains who will be leading the First Sunday Hikes. West Virginia State Parks, he said "offer even more opportunities for local community members to get outside and explore West Virginia.
The hikes are being offered on Sundays in order to offer an outdoor activity to "people who are looking for something to do on Sunday afternoons between church services or after family lunches, or even because that's the only day they have to get outside, Moore said.
"I'd love to see us doing multiple events in the state parks in the New River Gorge region in addition to the First Sunday hikes, he added. "My hope is that this initiative is just the beginning of an outstanding long-term partnership.
Free Active Southern West Virginia t-shirts, social media recognition, and an invitation to the Active Southern West Virginia Appreciation Awards Dinner in December can be earned by taking part in at least one First Sunday hike in each of the four participating state parks.
For more information about First Sunday hikes and other Active Southern West Virginia activities, call 304-254-8488 or visit www.activeswv.org/events.
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