Holiday cheer continues at Natural Tunnel

Holly Viers • Dec 13, 2018 at 3:38 PM

DUFFIELD — It’s not too late to celebrate the holidays at Natural Tunnel State Park.

In addition to the Lighting of the Tunnel, park staff have planned several other events to round out 2018 and bring in the new year.

Remaining tunnel lightings

If you haven’t had a chance to see the Lighting of the Tunnel yet, you can do so Friday and Saturday from 6-10 p.m.

Tunnel lightings will also take place Dec. 17-22 from 6-10 p.m., with a different theme for each evening. The themes are as follows: Dec. 17: pet night; Dec. 18: children’s crafts; Dec. 19: Christmas karaoke; Dec. 20: decorate a cookie night; Dec. 21: ugly sweater night; Dec. 22: Santa with special guest, Ranger Parker Red Fox.

Full moon hike

On Dec. 23 from 5:30-7 p.m., park guests can enjoy a guided hike to the gazebo, watch the moon rise over the mountains and hear stories about the thrilling night life. This 1.2 mile hike will take place along a semi-moderate trail. Sturdy hiking shoes and a flashlight are recommended, and participants should dress for the weather. Meet at the Blockhouse parking lot.

First Day Hikes

The park will ring in 2019 with two hikes on New Year’s Day, the first of which will take place at sunrise. At 6:45 a.m., hikers can join an interpreter on a guided hike on a portion of the Wildlife and Birding Trail. After reaching the gazebo, participants will enjoy the stunning views as dawn breaks. This is a moderate, 1.2 mile roundtrip. Bring plenty of water, a camera and a flashlight and meet at the Blockhouse parking lot.

Those who want to sleep in can catch the second hike at 1 p.m. Participants will join park interpreters on a guided hike to view both sides of Natural Tunnel. The hike will begin along the Stock Creek Trail to see the north portal of the tunnel. It will continue onto the Tunnel Trail, which leads down to the south portal of the tunnel. Stock Creek Trail is rated as moderate, and the Tunnel Trail is rated as difficult. Roundtrip, this will be a 2 mile hike. Wear sturdy shoes, bring plenty of water and don’t forget a camera. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.

Parking fees will be waived for the day, and the first 100 visitors will receive a First Day Hikes bumper sticker. Park guests can also enter two contests, with the top prize being a $500 gift certificate. To learn more, visit vasp.fun/2019firstdayhikes.

Old Christmas

On Jan. 5 from 5-7 p.m., park guests can join period-dressed historians from the Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Association as they go back in time to 1775. Sample fresh-baked stack cakes, cookies and cider and spend some time singing carols. This free event will take place outdoors, so dress for the weather. Meet at the Blockhouse.

January skies

Join volunteer Bob Van Gundy and see the universe on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. View the stars from the gazebo as they begin to illuminate the night sky, and discover what constellations are visible and the stories behind them. Park interpreters will provide a shuttle up to the gazebo area, and participants should dress for the weather. Only flashlights with a red filter will be permitted to help preserve night vision. Meet at the Blockhouse parking lot.

For more information, visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/natural-tunnel#general_information.

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