By Sandy Dubay
Posted on October 28, 2021
Filed under: Blog, Economic Development, Inspiration, Personal Share, Travel & Tourism

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Achieving my 2021 goal of visiting 39 Virginia state parks this year!

Early in 2021, I heard about a program called “Trail Quest” sponsored by Virginia State Parks.

Trail Quest provides a fun and interactive challenge that rewards you with Trail Quest pins after visiting 1 park, 5 parks, 10 parks, 20 parks, and all 39 state parks that are part of this program. Once you register online and log your first park visit, you get your first pin in the mail.

As you may have noticed, I love a good challenge. 🙂 While travel and many other activities have been limited this year, exploring all of the amazing nature close to home was a perfect thing to do. And with so much out of our hands in 2021, it was great to set an adventurous goal within our control that we could safely enjoy.

So I set out to visit all 39 state parks in 2021 and get the “Master Hiker” pin at the end of the year.

My Trail Quest adventure started in January with a visit to Lake Anna State Park when the weather was cold and the leaves were off the trees. Winter has always been one of my favorite times to be outside – I appreciate the unobstructed view of the path ahead. Having said that, a day at Sky Meadows State Park in the middle of a snow storm is not something I’d recommend. 🙂

Exploring the parks through the seasons

Along with visiting the state parks, we set the goal of doing “all the outdoor things” and enjoyed…

Swimming
Kayaking
Hiking
Biking
Fishing
Staying in a Yurt
Tent Camping
Cabin Camping

Staying in a yurt at Hungry Mother State Park

We got to see lots of wildlife too, like snakes, birds, and squirrels. As the seasons changed, we also got to watch the foliage evolve.

It wasn’t only the state parks I enjoyed. One of my favorite highlights was being able to see and visit so many small towns, municipalities and Main Streets around the state parks. I learned so much about Virginia and got to see parts of it that I’d never experienced. Have I told you I’m obsessed with the Virginia “LOVE” signs?

Love the LOVE signs!

We bookended the adventure with the two biggest lakes in the state of Virginia, both on state parks. The final park we visited was Smith Mountain Lake State Park. It was here that I received my “Master Hiker” pin as well as the “Master Hiker” Certificate… delivered to me in person by a park ranger!

  

Receiving my “Master Hiker” pin and certificate!

Overall, it was fulfilling to both start and complete a project like this in 2021. By the end, we’d visited all 39 parks, plus one that wasn’t included in the program.

Through the Trail Quest program, Virginia State Parks does a wonderful job making the many outdoor adventures a fun “challenge” or “game.” Along with enjoying the great outdoors, we get a thrill of accomplishment, too!

Check out more of the highlights from my year of becoming a Master Hiker on the next blog post!

‘Til next time,
Sandy

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