Start the New Year with an Inspiring “First-Day Hike”
State Parks get Georgians moving in 2015
ATLANTA, December 4, 2014 — Since New Year’s resolutions often include exercise, Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites are offering ways to make the goal more fun. Those wishing to increase their metabolism and decrease their waistline are invited to start 2015 with a healthy walk in the woods. Dozens of parks have planned ranger-led hikes as part of the national “First Day Hikes” movement sponsored by America’s State Parks.
From easy family-friendly strolls to more challenging treks, Georgia’s State Parks offer a variety of choices for “First Day Hikes.” Some focus on history, such as walks through Civil War camps or to ancient Indian mounds. Others highlight geologic wonders, such as Tallulah Gorge. A list of all hikes can be found on GeorgiaStateParks.org/events and a map of all locations can be found at GeorgiaStateParks.org/map.
Those who want to celebrate a peaceful New Year’s Eve in nature can reserve one of Georgia State Parks’ cozy cabins, heated yurts, lodge rooms, or modern campsites with hot showers. For reservations, call 1-800-864-7275 or book online at GeorgiaStateParks.org/reservations.
First-Day Hikes in Georgia
Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge, GA
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This 6-mile guided hike is the perfect winter outing for the first day of the new year. Enjoy meandering creeks cascading over rocks, and bring a light lunch to enjoy on the way. For children older than 10 and adults in good walking shape. $5 plus $5 parking. 706-557-3001.
Fort Yargo State Park – Winder, GA
Bring in the New Year with a brisk walk and afternoon viewing of beautiful Marbury Creek watershed. Hikers will meet at the Nature Center for the 1/2-mile hike around Bird Berry Trail. No minimum age. ADA Accessible. Pre-registration required. $5 parking. 770-867-3489.
Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge, GA
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Start the New Year off right with a brisk hike up our beautiful mountain. Join us on a journey that begins by writing, then burning, last year’s burdens. Hike to the top of the mountain to symbolize all the great things you will accomplish in 2015. Finish with s’mores and hot chocolate around a campfire. Register in advance. Ages 6 and up. $7 plus $5 parking. 770-389-7801.
Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs, GA
7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Bring your four-legged companion on this moderate mile-long hike to the rapids of Sweetwater Creek and to the five-story Civil War-era New Manchester Mill ruins. Ages 6 and older. Sturdy, closed toe shoes required. Reservations recommended. $5 plus $5 parking. 770-732-5871.
Don Carter State Park – Gainesville, GA
Join a ranger as we explore a beautiful backcountry area of the park before the trail is built. Our 2-mile cross-country adventure will follow old road beds, ridges, hills and valleys. Moderate to strenuous. Call the Visitor Center to reserve a spot. Limited to 15 hikers. $5 plus $5 parking. 678-450-7726.
James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park – Summerville, GA
1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Start your New Year off right with a 1.5-mile hike around the lower lake. This easy hike is good for all ages. $5 parking. 706-857-0826.
Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen, GA
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Hike a moderate 1.3 miles on flat roadway to Smithgall’s beautiful cottage facility where hot cider will be waiting. Learn more about Charlie Smithgall whose generosity made the park possible. All ages are welcome. No pets please. $5 parking. 706-878-3087.
Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls, GA
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Join a ranger on a moderate 3.5-mile hike along the rim and through the woods. Children must be 8 or older. Bring water and snacks. $5 plus $5 parking. 706-754-7981.
Tugaloo State Park – Lavonia, GA
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Welcome the New Year with a 1.2 mile moderate hike on the Muscadine Trail. We will meet in the Day Use Parking Area. We will finish the hike at the beach pavilion where hikers can add a little “luck and wealth” to their year. Come enjoy a sampling of black eye peas and collard greens to your New Year. Register in advance by calling 706-356-4362 by December 30. $5 parking. 706-356-4362.
Victoria Bryant State Park – Royston, GA
11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Meet at the office for a ranger led hike on our scenic Victoria’s Path trail. This trail follows along Rice Creek which runs through the middle of the park. This trail is fairly easy walking but closed toe shoes are recommended. $5 parking. 706-245-6270.
Vogel State Park – Blairsville, GA
9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Ring in the new year by joining us for a hike along the Bear Hair Gap Trail. This is a moderately rocky, four-mile hike led by Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. Please meet at the Visitors Center Parking lot. Closed toe shoes required. It is recommended that hikers bring water and a snack. $5 parking. 706-745-2628.
Crooked River State Park – St. Marys, GA
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Greet the New Year with a hike on the Bay Boardwalk trail. Vistas include wetland habitats plus our unique longleaf pine/saw palmetto ecosystem. Enjoy the great outdoors, camaraderie on the trail, cookies, and party hats. $2 plus $5 parking. 912-882-5256.
Fort King George Historic Site – Darien, GA
5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
As the sun sets on the first day of the new year, enjoy a hike into the past. Visitors will be guided through the half mile nature trail as they encounter various historic figures of Fort King George. $7.50 for adults, $7.00 for seniors, $4.50 for youth. 912-437-4770.
Fort McAllister State Park – Richmond Hill, GA
10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Join us for a 3-mile nature hike on the Redbird Creek Trail. This hike is medium difficulty and requires sturdy shoes and water. At 1:00 there will be a history hike around the fort. An Interpretative Ranger will walk you through the past and tell you about the daily life at Fort McAllister during the Civil War. $3. Children under 5 free. $5 parking. 912-727-2339.
Fort Morris Historic Site – Midway, GA
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. interpreters will present soldier talks, musket demonstrations and a guided walk around the historic remains of the Revolutionary War fort. $3- $5. 912-884-5999.
Laura S. Walker State Park – Waycross, GA
9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Join us for a 1.3 mile ranger-led nature hike along our beautiful Big Creek Nature Trail. We will see and discuss flora and fauna that are native to our area while getting fit for the New Year. The trail is an easy hike for almost all ages. $5 parking. 912-287-4900.
Skidaway Island State Park – Savannah, GA
Enjoy an afternoon hike through the marsh. This guided hike will discuss the history of Skidaway Island, marsh plants and local animals. $5 parking. 912-598-2300.
Stephen C. Foster State Park – Fargo, GA
Meet at the park office for a hike on our 3/4 mile Trembling Earth Nature Trail. This hike will take you on our boardwalk through a mixed cypress and blackgum forest. On the way we will be on the lookout for the wildlife that inhabit the area, as well as unique plant life. $2 plus $5 parking. 912-637-5274.
Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation Historic Site – Brunswick, GA
Come to a compass-orienteering event where participants learn how to use a compass in finding information about this old antebellum plantation. $4.50 – $7.50. 912-264-7333.
Wormsloe Historic Site – Savannah, GA
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Hike to the Civil War earthworks of Battery Wimberly. Wear comfortable shoes suitable for hiking, no open toe shoes. $4.50-$10. 912-353-3023.
Middle & South Georgia
A.H. Stephens State Park – Crawfordville, GA
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Get started with your New Year’s resolutions by joining us on a pet-friendly ranger-led hike. We will identify plants, animals and historic structures. $5 parking. 706-456-2602.
Elijah Clark State Park – Lincolnton, GA
2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Bring in the New Year with a revitalizing lead hike on our three-mile trail that includes a beautiful outlook to rest and gaze upon the serene Clark Hill Lake. $5 parking. 706-359-3458.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park – Pine Mountain, GA
1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Join this 3.4-mile, easy to moderate hike on the Pine Mountain Trail. Geared towards ages 8 and older. Bring water and snacks. Dress for the weather. Meet at the Trading Post in the campground. $5 parking. 706-663-4858.
General Coffee State Park – Nicholls, GA
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Take a ranger-guided birding hike on the 1.5 mile Gopher Loop Trail. We will also discuss resource management and longleaf pine re-introduction. $5 parking. 912-384-7082.
George L. Smith State Park – Twin City, GA
9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Come join us New Year’s Day for a hike down our 3-mile nature trail behind the Mill House. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes and bring your own water and snacks. Dog welcome but must be kept on leash. $5 parking. 478-763-2759.
High Falls State Park – Jackson, GA
2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
This 1.5 mile moderate hike will take you past several scenic and historic sites including the falls, the old powerhouse, and through a mixed pine/hardwood forest. You will learn about the park history and the local ecology. Meet at the park office, wear comfortable shoes, and bring water and a snack. $5 parking. 478-993-3053.
Indian Springs State Park – Flovilla, GA
Join a park ranger for a journey through time. Discover the history of Indian Springs State Park, sample the famous spring water, and tour the park museum. This moderate hike will involve some steps and hills. Participants meet at the park museum. $5 parking. 770-504-2277.
Mistletoe State Park – Appling, GA
Come start the new year off the right foot. This ranger led hike will allow guests to discover nature’s winter wonder along the Cliatt Creek nature trail. We will meet at the nature center. $5 parking. 706-541-0321.
Reed Bingham State Park – Adel, GA
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Time to wind down the first day of the new year, so why not wind down with a relaxing night hike on the Upland loop Trail followed by a bon-fire with s’mores next to campsite 14. Meet at trailhead. $1 s’more and $5 parking. 229-896-3551.
Seminole State Park – Donalsonville, GA
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Kick off the New Year with Seminole’s First Day Fitness Challenge. Purchase your First Day fitness game board in the park office for $5. Complete each of the four tasks and receive 25% off your next camping trip at Seminole State Park. $5 plus $5 parking. 229-861-3137.