First Day Hike

When I retired nine (!) years ago, one of my goals was to start hiking more. I loved wandering around in the woods behind my house and with more time on my hands, I decided to join the West Virginia State Parks hiking program. By logging the miles I hiked on state park trails, I’ve been awarded a beautiful walking stick and numerous badges. My favorite hike so far has been the wildflower hike at Chief Logan State Park and I’m proudest of logging 100 miles in the Chief’s Hiking Challenge way back in 2016.

For the last 9 years. I’ve aimed toward starting each New Year off by participating in a nationwide program called First Day Hike. State Parks all over the country coordinate ranger led hikes that are fun and informative. The hikes are planned to be family friendly and I’ve hiked with all age groups. This year was no exception but I didn’t hike in West Virginia.

The Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is located in the western portion of Florida’s panhandle, near Niceville, and prior to becoming a state park, the property served as a practice bombing site during World War II. One of the cement practice bombs is still located along the Rocky Bayou Trail.

Rocky Bayou supports a large variety of shellfish and fish in its brackish water system which receives an input of fresh water from two creeks. It’s not unusual to see dolphins playing there and osprey and bald eagles have nested near its shores. Within the park itself, a Longleaf Pine restoration program is in progress.

Longleaf Pine

Being just a few steps beyond normal, I felt like the First Day Hike was more of a stroll than a hike so, after it was finished, I decided to walk the other two short trails in the park. It was a beautiful day but I found myself slightly disappointed because, unlike West Virginia, the Florida State Parks don’t give a badge for participating. They also charge entry fees to all of their parks. I like that West Virginia parks are free.

2 thoughts on “First Day Hike

  1. I agree about the fees, Vicki. They are not huge, but it adds up when you want to go to the same park multiple days. It would be nice if they at least offered a senior citizen discount. In spite of all that, however, I have fallen in love with Florida in January. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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