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First Day Hike celebration draws dozens to Aiken State Park

January 3, 2019

More than 50 people – and at least three dogs – hit Aiken State Park on Tuesday afternoon to participate in an annual interactive trek.

The First Day Hike, attended by people of all ages and free, save for park admission, started at 1 p.m. and took a little more than an hour, all things considered.

Ranger Elise Wingo with the S.C. State Park Service led the adventure, which snaked its way along the Jungle Trail.

The Jungle Trail, at times cut just a person-wide, is a 3-mile flatland loop located near the park’s entrance. The hike slices through wetlands as well as mixed pine and hardwood forest.

“It’s a real easy trail,” Wingo said. The state park website describes it as easy to follow.

Portions of the Jungle Trail were closed Tuesday due to localized flooding, which turned the otherwise circular hike into a 1-mile-in, 1-mile-out jaunt.

Before heading out, Wingo described the First Day Hike as a solid start to a new year, one that could even inspire “good, healthy habits.”

Levar Mealing and his family – hailing from Augusta, Georgia, and sporting Masters hats – were among the pack of eager hikers Tuesday.

Other attendees hailed from Batesburg, Orangeburg and Aiken.

Mealing, who admitted he was not an avid hiker, said the walk through the state park was enjoyable. It motivated his family to come together and experience the outdoors, he said.

Mealing plans to visit more state parks and nature preserves in the future.

The First Day Hike at Aiken State Park was but one of many other special hikes hosted across the nation on Jan. 1.

Last year, roughly 55,000 people participated in the First Day Hike initiative; participants hiked more than 133,000 miles collectively, according to the event’s website.

Aiken State Park is set along the South Edisto River and spans more than 1,000 acres. The park features 25 campsites, a handful of lakes for fishing and was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

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