22+ Fantastic Hikes to Ring in the New Year

Your guide to Georgia's First Day Hikes and a few you may want to do on your own.

The perfect way to jump start those New Year's resolutions to get in shape and explore Georgia is to participate in a First Day Hike. First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide program led by the State Parks to encourage people to get outside. Here’s your guide to Georgia’s First Day Hikes and a few you may want to do on your own. When you go, tag your photos with #FirstDayHikes so folks can see where you’ve been.

  • Historic High Country
  • Northeast Georgia Mountains
    Watson Mill Covered Bridge in Comer, Georgia
  • The Coast
    Trails wind through maritime forest on Skidaway Island
  • Plantation Trace
  • Historic Heartland
  • Classic South
  • More State Parks We Love
  • Historic High Country

    Fort Mountain

    1 of 7
  • Northeast Georgia Mountains

    Watson Mill

    2 of 7
  • The Coast

    Skidaway Island

    3 of 7
  • Plantation Trace

    Kolomoki Mounds

    4 of 7
  • Historic Heartland

    High Falls

    5 of 7
  • Classic South

    A.H. Stephens

    6 of 7
  • More State Parks We Love

    Amicalola Falls

    7 of 7

Historic High Country

Cloudland Canyon (Rising Fawn) - Take a hike through the lesser-known area of Cloudland Canyon State Park and a connecting portion of Bear Creek Trail with the final destination of the pond and meadow area. 

Fort Mountain (Chatsworth) - This one-mile hike takes visitors to the Stone Wall, Historic CCC Fire Tower and the West Overlook for amazing views. Be sure to look for the heart stone.

James H. (Sloppy) Floyd (Summerville) - Start your New Year off right with a ranger-led hike (2 miles) to the Marble Mine. This hike is moderate in difficulty.

Rocky Mountain Recreation & Public Fishing Area (Rome) - Join us for a ranger-led hike around Lake Antioch for your first hike of the year! As you stroll along the banks of Antioch Lake, we will share this area's unique history, flora and fauna. The trail is considered moderate.

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Northeast Georgia Mountains

Richard B. Russell State Park (Elberton) - Join us for a hike along the Blackwell Bridge Trail. The trail is approximately 1.4 miles round trip. 

Don Carter (Gainesville) - This nature trail hike displays some of the best views of Lake Lanier. The Huckleberry trail is a unpaved trail that is approximately 1.5 miles. After the hike, we will meet around the campfire at Shelter 4 for s'mores and hot chocolate.

Fort  Yargo (Winder) - Fort Yargo Lake Loop Trail is a 6.7-mile moderate loop trail. Dogs allowed on leash. Pack water and snacks for this hike that will last 2+ hours. 

Watson Mill (Comer) - A park ranger will talk about the history of the park’s covered bridge and the power plant along this hike. 

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The Coast

Crooked River (St. Marys) - Take this chance to get up close and personal with our long leaf and Coastal Shell Midden Forest along with visiting our salt marsh. Celebrate the New Year after the hike in one of our cottages with hot cider, hot chocolate and cookies. 

Skidaway Island (Savannah) - Enjoy a romp through the marsh. This hike is about two miles and includes information on the history of Skidaway Island, as well as a discussion of marsh plants and animals.

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Plantation Trace

Seminole (Donalsonville) - Begin your New Year with a moderate hike from the campground chapel and end at one of our many cottages to view a beautiful Lake Seminole sunset while enjoying s'mores and hot chocolate or coffee. 

Stephen C. Foster (Fargo) - Watch the first sunrise of 2017 over the Okefenokee then enjoy an early morning hike at the beginning of the Suwannee River. Learn about the origins of the river in the swamp and the history of the area. 

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Historic Heartland

Hard Labor Creek (Rutledge) - Enjoy two pet-friendly, ranger-led hikes: one at 10 a.m., and another at 2 p.m. Explore the Beaver Dam Trail and the Brantley trail. The combined trails will cover 2.5 miles with varied terrain, including hills and stairs..

High Falls (Jackson) - Take a special night hike to the falls. After the short hike, gather around the campfire for hot chocolate and s'mores..

Indian Springs (Flovilla) - Sip from the famous springs along this hike and then tour the museum. 

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Classic South

A.H. Stephens State Park (Crawfordville) - Kick off the new year with a moderate, 3-mile pet-friendly hike to the CCC firetower and to some never-before-seen CCC structures located on the horse trails.

Elijah Clark (Lincolnton) - Take a winter hike that culminates in a polar bear swim! This three-mile hike ends at Clark's Hill Lake for an icy dip.

Mistletoe (Appling) - A ranger leads guests along the Cliatt Creek nature trail and back to the nature center. 

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More State Parks We Love

Amicalola Falls State Park (Dawsonville) - The waterfall is breathtaking, and the stairs to the top will surely jump start your fitness routine.

Sweetwater Creek State Park (Lithia Springs) - The LEED-certified Interpretive Center gives a glimpse into daily life of residents who lived in the once thriving Manchester Mill community that flourish here before the Civil War. After a history lesson, hike out to the mill ruins.

Providence Canyon (Lumpkin) - Providence Canyon is one of the most photographed landscapes in Georgia and a fun hike. Walk along the rim to find old abandon cars, or travel to the bottom of the canyon for spectacular views of the earth’s layers.

Still looking for more? Here are seven additional winter hikes in Georgia

Sue Rodman is Georgia's official Smart Travel Explorer. Find more of her budget-friendly tips and trip ideas on,

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