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Take in a 'First Day Hike' this New Year's Day

Enjoy the splendor Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites has to offer to ring in 2013.

On Tuesday, Jan. 1, state parks across Georgia and the U.S. have organized an historic event called "First Day Hike." The program organized by "Americas State Parks" represents the first time that all 50 states have collaborated on a nationwide event occurring on the same day, according to Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The first day hikes are listed below, courtesy of the Georgia DNR, and divided by region.

NORTHERN GEORGIA

New Year’s Day Hike at Amicalola Falls
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge – Dawsonville

Start 2013 off with a brisk walk full of winter views to the highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Meet at the West Ridge Falls Access Trailhead, 0.6 of a mile round-trip. $5 parking. (706) 265-1969.

First Day Hike at Cloudland Canyon
Tuesday, Jan. 1
Cloudland Canyon State Park – Rising Fawn

Join our outfitter guides for a short but challenging hike to Hemlock and Cherokee Falls to learn about the unique geology and history of the park. All participants staying in the campground will receive a 25 percent discount off their stay. Register in advance. $10 plus $5 parking. (706) 913-7170.

First Day Hike
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Fort Mountain State Park – Chatsworth

Come celebrate the first day of 2013 at with a short hike guided by our naturalist. $5 parking. (706) 422-1932.

Black Bear Plunge
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Fort Mountain State Park – Chatsworth

See how brave you are as we race and plunge into Fort Mountain's cold mountain lake. Start a great New Year's tradition with us. Register in advanced. $20-$25 plus $5 parking. (706) 422-1932.

First Day New Year Hike
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m.
Fort Yargo State Park – Winder

Start off the New Year by going for a moderate, 2.5-mile excursion along the lake and our new trail, Turtle Creek. Bring water and snacks. Meet at the Nature Center. $5 parking. (770) 867-3489.

New Year’s Camp
Tuesday, Jan. 1 through Wednesday, Jan. 2, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen

Kids ages 6-12 can ring in the New Year with fun holiday traditions, indoor and outdoor games, hikes, and more. Dream about the New Year and plant seeds to grow those dreams. $65, $5 parking. (706) 878-3087.

First Day Hike at Smithgall Woods
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen

Hike 2.6 miles with Smithgall staff to the park's beautiful cottage facility where hot cider will be waiting. Let the First Hike be your first step toward good health, and then continue through the year with progressively longer hikes. “A Walk in the Park” brochure offers guidance for hike distance and difficulty. $5 parking. (706) 878-3087.

First Day Hike at Tallulah
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls

What a great way to start the New Year – Go for a Hike! Join a ranger on a moderate 3.5-mile hike along the rim and through the woods. Children must be 8 yrs. or older. Bring water and snacks. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 754-7981.

First Day Hike at Vogel
Tuesday, Jan.  1, 9:15 a.m.
Vogel State Park – Blairsville

Join members of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club for a healthy hike on New Year's Day. We'll explore the 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail, which has a beautiful overlook with Lake Trahlyta in view. Vogel Volunteers will provide lunch afterward. $5 parking. (706) 745-2628.

First Day Along with a Little Luck Hike
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Unicoi State Park and Lodge – Helen

Welcome the New Year with a 2 1/2-mile moderate hike around Unicoi Lake. Finish the trail at our campfire ring where hikers can add a little luck to their year by enjoying a small meal of black eyed peas, greens, and pork cooked in Dutch ovens over an open fire. Register in advance. $5 parking. (706) 878-2201 ext. 305.

METRO ATLANTA

New Year’s Day Hike
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m.
Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Make a fresh start on the New Year. Join a park ranger on a journey by writing out, and then burning, last year's burdens. Hike to the top of the mountain picturing all the great things you will accomplish in 2013. Finish around a campfire sharing hot chocolate and plans for the New Year. Register in advance. $7 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

First Day Hike at Sweetwater Creek
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

Join us for a three-hour hike focusing on the first inhabitants of our area, the Native Americans or American Indians, as we explore some seldom visited areas on the eastside which includes a trip to the "Indian Cave." $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

SOUTHERN & CENTRAL GEORGIA

First Day Hike at F.D. Roosevelt
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park – Pine Mountain

Celebrate the NEW YEAR in the great outdoors! Bring the family and explore the woodlands along the Mountain Creek Trail with guides from Pine Mountain Trail Association and Roosevelt State Park. This 3.2-mile easy trail will begin at the Training Post in the Campground. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water. $5 parking. (706) 663-4858.

First Day Hike at High Falls
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
High Falls State Park – Jackson

This staff-led 3.5-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.

First Day Hike at Reed Bingham
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Reed Bingham State Park - Adel

Start off the New Year in a healthy way by taking a ranger-led hike. Please wear appropriate walking shoes and bug spray, and bring water. Reservations required. The nature nook will be open from 10:30-11 before the hike. $1 for nature nook. $5 parking. (229) 896-3551.

First Day Hike at General Coffee
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
General Coffee State Park – Nicholls

Start your year off with a rousing guided hike along our new kids fitness trail. Great fun for all ages. $5 parking. (912) 384-7082.

New Years Day Hike
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Kolomoki Mounds Historic Park – Blakely

The New Year inspires reflection on the year past and hopeful resolution for the things to come. Start the New Year off right with a ranger-led hike on Trillium Trail. The hike will focus on the new beginnings in the natural world. Appropriate clothing is recommended. Meet at Picnic Shelter 3. Warm drinks and sweet treats will be provided. Sponsored by the Friends of Kolomoki. $5 parking. (229) 724-2150.

First Day Hike on Lake Brantley Trail
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m.
Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge

Take this guided hike on the Lake Brantley Horse Trail and exercise off those holiday pounds. Bring a camera to record the scenery of Lake Brantley, rolling woodlands, and cascading creeks. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the walk. Meet at the Park Office/Trading Post. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 557-3001.

First Day Hike
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – noon
Mistletoe State Park – Appling

Come start the New Year off on the right foot. This ranger led hike will allow guests to discover natures winter wonder along the Cliatt Creek nature trail. We will meet at the nature center to begin this mile long hike. $5 parking. (706) 541-0321.

COASTAL GEORGIA

First Day Hike at Crooked River
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Crooked River State Park – St. Marys

Greet the New Year with a "First Day" hike. Meet at the Nature Center for a walk 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 plus cookies, hot apple cider and party hats. $2 plus $5 parking. (912) 882-5256.

First Day Hike with a Ranger
Tuesday, Jan. 1
Laura S. Walker State Park – Waycross

Hike with a Ranger on Big Creek Nature Trail to start the New Year off right by getting fit. Hike starts at 10 a.m. and finishes by 11 a.m. Meet at the park office by 9:45 a.m. Tuesday morning. Wear comfortable shoes and bring water. $5 parking. (912) 287-4900.

First Day Hike on Billy’s Island
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. – noon
Stephen C. Foster State Park – Fargo

Take a guided boat tour to Billy's Island. See turtles and gators out basking on the logs. Keep your fingers crossed for a river otter sighting. Once we arrive, we will tour the island. You'll see how the Hebbard Cypress Company once had their boomtown laid out. You'll also be able to see the Lee Family Cemetery. $5 Refuge Parking. $15-20. (912) 637-5274.

More information on events, accommodations and recreation can be found on the Georgia State Parks website or by calling  or 1-800-864-7275.

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