Get your hiking boots on: Lake Corriher Wilderness Park celebrates Year of the Trail

Published 12:10 am Sunday, January 8, 2023

LANDIS — Lake Corriher Wilderness Park is joining a statewide campaign to encourage North Carolinians to spend more time in the great outdoors in 2023.

The N.C. Recreation and Parks Association organized the year-long initiative to spur foot traffic in parks around the state. The campaign assigns themes each month to make the outdoor experience unique for those interested in adopting new hobbies.

“Each month, we are going to try to have an event at the park to promote the trails,” said Jessica St. Martin, the Landis Parks and Recreation director. “For January, the theme is ‘New Year, New Trails.’ They are trying to encourage people to get out and explore new areas.”

The Year of the Trail is the largest statewide celebration of trails and outdoor recreation in North Carolina history. It was designated by the General Assembly to champion the state’s vast network of trails, greenways and blueways, and showcases diverse landscapes between mountain vistas, rivers, urban greenways, coastal forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont region.

The campaign’s mission is to reach communities with the message of how and where to experience trails that showcase North Carolina’s landscapes, provide healthy recreation and stimulate local economies.

A broad-based group of organizations, agencies and supporters advocating for increased state investment in all types of trails statewide called the Great Trails State Coalition is leading the effort.

In keeping with that spirit, St. Martin indicated that their main goal is to attract new visitors.

“Across the state, there are tons of different parks people can visit, but locally, we would like to get them out and about,” St. Martin said. “It really is quite amazing the people we get here on a day-to-day basis. Some still don’t realize that the parks and everything we offer is here. People call it a hidden gem when they find out.”

St. Martin acknowledged that it might start slowly but sees room for growth as the year progresses. 

“We want to get people out,” St. Martin said. “We realize that winter months are not always the most conducive for hiking, but we want people to warm up to our trails. With the ‘New Year, New Trails’ theme, we are inviting any hikers that are coming in through the chilly months to come into the office, so we can give giving them a complimentary cup of coffee or hot chocolate and make sure they have a copy of our trail maps and brochures.”

Some of the other monthly themes include making a date with a trail in February, springing into action in March, and showing gratitude for N.C. trails in November. 

“We are going to try to partner with different groups so that each month we can offer something new and reach out to a different type of community member that can be an asset to the park program,” St. Martin said. 

As the director pointed out, every first-time visitor is just a chance for a repeat customer.

“We have people just now finding out about us, who may have known we had hiking trails but then they get here, they hike the trails and come across our camping sites,” St. Martin said. “They realize we have camping, so they come back and see that we rent kayaks. Getting people out here for one particular reason brings them back.”

Lake Corriher Wilderness Park is located at 955 Kimball Road and is open daily from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.