GDNR offers opportunities to begin 2024 on the right foot with a First Day Hike

Panola Mountain First Day Hike 2023. Photo Courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Christmas 2023 is over and we’re days away from 2024! So what your plans? Georgia Department of Natural Resources is offering an opportunity for you to begin your 2024 on the right footing.

“What better way to do it than getting outside in Georgia’s great outdoors after all the holiday treats. Get a jump on those resolutions by lacing up and heading out to one of Georgia’s State Parks & Historic Sites to celebrate First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day. First Day Hikes is a national initiative created to encourage people to get out and explore the great outdoors. Hikers are invited to enjoy the beauty and inspiration found in nature that awaits right in Georgia’s backyard,” said Melissa Walker, representing the GDNR. “With more than 40 guided treks, family and friends will be able to welcome 2024 outdoors.” 

GDNR offers “First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day with dozens of ranger-led adventures in one of Georgia’s state parks.

Hikers can choose from a varied distances and difficulties depending on your capabilities and from “kid-friendly strolls to heart-pumping treks. Participants will get a First Day Hikes sticker to commemorate their accomplishments.”

According to a press release from GDNR, among the more unique programs is ringing in the New Year atop an ancient earthen mound at Kolomoki Mounds State Park, or at a dog-friendly sensory-awareness hike at Indian Springs State Park hosts or at the colonial history and salt marsh at Wormsloe Historic Site. Hikers also can even watch the sunset from Tallulah Gorge’s highest point and “then write down their burdens and toss them into a campfire.”

Closest to the local area are the following opportunities:

First Day HikeMonday, Jan 1, 2024 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Fort Yargo State Park – Winder, GA

Enjoy the new year by starting it off with beautiful views! This guided hike will start at Picnic Area 2 near Picnic Shelter 5. It will be about a 1-2-mile hike, so make sure to bring water, wear comfortable shoes, and wear warm clothes! Space is limited $5 parking. 770-867-3489.

First Day HikeMonday, Jan 1, 2024 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Fort Yargo State Park – Winder, GA

Enjoy the new year by starting it off with beautiful views! This guided hike will start at Picnic Area 2 near Picnic Shelter 5. It will be about a 1-2-mile hike, so make sure to bring water, wear comfortable shoes, and wear warm clothes! Space is limited $5 parking. 770-867-3489.

Follow in the steps of the CCC – First Day Hike – Monday, Jan. 1, 2024
Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge, GA 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This Ranger – Led hike will take visitors along the lake banks and gentle ridges. Start the New Year off right with this 2 mile, moderate to rigorous, scenic hike (11am and 2pm). Bring a camera to record the scenery. Hikes geared toward active adults and children over 8 years old. Limited to 30. Pre-registration required by 4 PM the day before. $3 plus $5 parking. 706-557-3001.

Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge, GA 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

This Ranger – Led hike will take visitors along the lake banks and gentle ridges. Start the New Year off right with this 2-mile, moderate to rigorous, scenic hike (11am and 2pm). Bring a camera to record the scenery. Hikes geared toward active adults and children over 8 years old. Limited to 30. Pre-registration required by 4 PM the day before. $3 plus $5 parking. 706-557-3001.

These and dozens of additional hikes are listed on GaStateParks.org.

First Day Hikes is a national initiative from America’s State Parks that encourages people to get out and explore nature. It began more than three decades ago, and all 50 states have participated. For guests who want to celebrate New Year’s Eve surrounded by fresh air rather than fireworks, Georgia’s State Parks offer cozy cabins, heated yurts, lodge rooms and modern campsites. Fireworks and sparklers are not allowed in state parks, making them a peaceful choice for the holiday – especially those with dogs. For reservations, call 1-800-864-7275 or book at GaStateParks.org.  

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