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Start the New Year with a Hike!

December 19, 2017

Whether you are making a resolution to get out more in 2018 or you just enjoy nature, you can find an outdoor adventure through First Day Hikes.

Across the country on January 1, park rangers will welcome visitors eager to begin the year outdoors. There are plenty of options for hike-hungry Georgians to chose!

Find your Hike

Every First Day Hike is listed on the Events page of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources State Parks & Historic Sites Division's website.

  • Location: Parks & Historic Sites across Georgia
  • Date: January 1, 2018
  • Time: Event times vary from park to park, though most are scheduled for the morning.
  • Cost: Most events are free, though some specialty hikes have a small cost.
  • Registration: Many hikes have limited space available, so early registration is encouraged.

Please see individual event listings for details.

There is a $5 fee to park at any state park, but if your New Year’s resolution involves visiting more parks, save now by purchasing an annual ParkPass. Just 10 park visits in 2018 make the $50 pass well worth it. Discounted passes are available for seniors and veterans with disabilities, as well as active and retired members of the U.S. military.

Get Social

The Georgia DNR State Parks and Historic Sites Division has set up a First Day Hikes event on its Facebook page. Share your status or find friends who are interested in hikes near you.

More Than a Hike

Some parks are offering special events that go beyond just a hike. If you’re looking for something extra, consider these options.

Take the Plunge

The “polar plunge” tradition involves swimming (usually just a quick dip!) in open water on the New Year’s Day for good luck in the coming year.

We might be in the south, but there is cold water here in January. Two state parks will offer polar plunges into their lakes in conjunction with First Day Hike events this year:

  • Elijah Clark State Park in Lincolnton is offering a 3-mile hike with the option to plunge into Clark’s Hill Lake at the end. Warm up afterwards with hot dogs and hot chocolate around a bonfire.
  • Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth is hosting its 6th Annual Black Bear Plunge. Dive into the lake in the morning, then follow with a midday hike, after warming up with coffee or hot chocolate, of course.

Night Hikes

Maybe you’re still resting from a late night on New Year’s Eve. Maybe you’d rather limit your sun exposure. Whatever the reason, if hiking at night is your thing, several state parks are ready to accommodate your First Day Night Hike needs.

  • Victoria Bryant State Park in Royston is offering a night hike along Victoria's Path and Perimeter Trail. Following the hike, a special "Burden Burn" bonfire will be held to welcome the new year. Also: S'mores!
  • Red Top Mountain State Park in Acworth is offering an easy, paved 0.75-mile full moon hike over an easy, paved 0.75-mile trail. AmeriCorps Rangers will guide this tour.
  • Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge in McRae-Helena is offering a Nifty Night Life hike. Learn about nocturnal animals and maybe see a few in this ranger-guided hike. Hot chocolate will be available.
  • Magnolia Springs State Park in Millen is offering a 1.2-mile First Moon Hike on its Beaver Creek Trail.
  • High Falls State Park in Jackson is hosting a night hike to the falls. The hike will be followed by a campfire, with hot chocolate and s'mores available.

Keep it Up

You may find the great outdoors is just what you’ve been looking for. If you think 2018 is destined to be the year you opt outside, Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites will be there for you, with special events and activities all year long.

Jon Suggs

About the Author

Jon Suggs is the Content Strategist for Digital Services Georgia. He writes on a variety of topics for Georgia.gov. Jon is a Georgia native and former journalist who has worked in state government for more than a decade.

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