Beat the chill: 5 parkland exercises for winter

Looking for winter exercise inspiration? You’re not alone. Join Active Southern WV and the National Park Service for free guided exercises in the New River Gorge! Burn off those calories with:

1. Tai Chi Feb. 17

Graceful and meditative, this ancient discipline once had military uses. It’s now popular as a gentle exercise. Over time, the slow, low-impact motions pay off with improved balance and muscle tone.

Tai chi is also relaxing. It’s a contemplative form of exercise, so you learn how to meditate and breathe deeply while stretching. Now that’s a two-for-one deal!

If you’re interested, the Sandstone Visitor Center in Sandstone will have tai chi classes throughout winter. Contact them for more details.

2. Winter Hike Jan. 13

Go on a refreshing ramble through the woods! This year’s Winter Hike will be on Long Point Trail, one of the New River Gorge’s most breathtaking paths. Much of the 3.2-mile (total) walk goes through hardwood forests. Then comes the grand finale: a jaw-dropping overlook of the canyon, New River Gorge Bridge, and surrounding mountains.

Long Point Trail is mostly flat. However, it gets somewhat tricky towards the end— hence the “moderate” rating. You’ll have to step over boulders and climb some steep sections. The dramatic ending is worth the effort, though!

3. Hike for Health Jan. 27

Feeling ambitious? Try the Hike for Health, a 10.5-mile outing through the New River Gorge. Everybody starts at the Park Loop Trailhead in Fayetteville. From there, you’ll cover Town Loop Trail, Craig Branch, and Kaymoor before heading back to town. It’s a lot of ground to cover, but imagine the satisfaction afterwards! Reservations required.

4. Yoga Chi Jan. 27 and Feb. 9

The name pretty much says it all! Combine yoga with tai chi, and you get an exercise that maximizes both disciplines. Just about anybody can do it.

The Sandstone Visitor Center will have lessons in late winter. Contact them if you have any questions.

5. Community Hike Feb. 10

Here’s a worthy goal for 2018: hiking Endless Wall Trail. Named by USA Today readers as America’s top trail in 2015, it’s a national and local favorite. Seemingly endless sandstone ridgelines stretch towards the horizon— a showstopper nobody should miss!

The Community Hike is your chance to try this wonder for yourself. Expect moderate difficulty and 2.4 miles of walking. Reservations are required.

Let the calories burn! Which activity are you going to try?