Several night hikes will be taking place at New River State Park and Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area this weekend, giving locals and visitors a like a special view of the wildlife when the sun goes down.
On Friday, July 11 starting at 9 p.m. a night hike will take place at the New River State Park’s Wagoner access.
On Saturday, July 12, there will be a special presentation on night flyers and owls at the U.S. 221 visitor center, followed by a short hike where the ranger will try and call out to owls in hopes of observing some along the New River. Also on Saturday, there will be a full moon night hike to Luther Rock at Mt. Jefferson.
“One of the neat things is that the park is usually closed after dark and this is a good time to experience the park after hours,” said Joseph Shimel, head park ranger for the New River State Park and Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area. “Part of it is experiencing the woods at night. You notice things differently and you notice sounds a lot more because your visual cues aren’t as strong.”
The night hikes take place during the months where it is warm enough to be out in the wilderness after hours. Shimel said the number of people who participate in the hikes vary, but everybody does enjoy the experience.
“It varies, sometimes it’s as few as five or it can be up to 20 or more,” Shimel said. “It all just depends.”
The hikes are free, but the night hikes to Mt. Jefferson will require a reservation. Reservations can be made by calling the Mt. Jefferson office at (336) 246-9653.
“The ones at U.S. 221 are not limited in number so you can just come to those,” he said. “You can just show up for the ones at New River.”
For the night hikes, it is recommended that hikers come prepared for the weather, wear sturdy shoes and bring a flashlight to help on the dark trails.
Shimel said these hikes have been offered since the park has been open and are used as a way to public to see what the park is like at night.
For more information on the night hikes and New River State Park visit: www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/neri/main.php/.
“Check out our website because we do offer programs every weekend between New River and Mt. Jefferson,” Shimel said. “We just have a lot of different programs throughout the year.”
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.