21 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.
Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge (Dawsonville) - Start the morning with a guided 1-mile hike along the Mountain Laurel Loop Trail that runs along a ridge above Amicalola Creek.
Fort Yargo State Park (Winder) - Start the new year with beautiful views on a 2-3-mile afternoon guided hike. While visiting this popular park located between Atlanta and Athens, be sure to explore one of the only remaining log forts for early settlers, which was built in 1792.
Hardman Farm Historic Site (Sautee Nacoochee) - Spend the day on an 11-mile, one-way hike back in time from Anna Ruby Falls to Hardman Farm State Historic Site. This hike includes a shuttle from the farm to Anna Ruby Falls, four aid stations, a swag bag, post-hike meal, tour of the farm and a t-shirt. Tickets are $40.
Smithgall Woods State Park (Helen) - Meet your fellow hikers at the visitor center for a 1.3-mile hike to the park’s primitive cabin. There, by a toasty fire, you can warm yourself against the winter chill. If you are feeling adventurous, you can then continue an additional 1.2 miles to Duke's Creek Falls. Pre-registration is required.
Victoria Bryant State Park (Royston) - Join a ranger-led hike on the Victoria’s Path trail to learn about local flora and fauna. The moderate trail is pet-friendly.
Vogel State Park (Blairsville) - Join this 2- to 4-hour morning hike on the 4.1-mile Bear Hair Gap trail over the lower ridge of Blood Mountain. The medium-difficulty trail has a 12% grade in places and is not ADA accessible.
Watson Mill Bridge State Park (Comer) - Hike to the old powerhouse ruins and enjoy the sounds of the South Fork of the Broad River along the way. The half-mile hike will be on old roadbeds and trails with uneven surfaces. Dogs are permitted.
Elijah Clark State Park (Lincolnton) - Start the morning with a 1.5-mile hike on the Hannah Clark Trail with a ranger. Pre-registration is required.
George L. Smith State Park (Twin City) - Welcome the New Year with a 3-mile hike on the Deer Run Trail. Leashed dogs are allowed.
Hamburg State Park (Mitchell) - Join a ranger for a morning hike on the Red Trail to learn about the history of the park while enjoying picturesque lakefront views of the Hamburg Grist Mill.
Hard Labor Creek State Park (Rutledge) - Join a ranger-led hike for a 2-mile moderate to rigorous scenic hike along creeks and ridges. Two times are available: at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The hike is intended for ages 8 and up. Space is limited, and pre-registration is required by 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2022.
High Falls State Park (Jackson) - Get your heart pumping on a 1.5-mile hike on the Falls View Trail. Dogs are welcome. Pre-registration is required.
Kolomoki Mounds State Park (Blakely) - Start your hike on New Year’s Eve, hike through the dark to the top of the temple mound. Ring in the New Year with s’mores on the top of the tallest mound in the park.
Seminole State Park (Donalsonville) - Celebrate the New Year with a leisurely 2-mile hike along the Gopher Tortoise trail to the boardwalk for a morning of nature.
Stephen C. Foster State Park (Fargo) - Start your 2023 with a refreshing stroll around the park in the middle of the Okefenokee Swamp. Start with the 0.75-mile Trembling Earth Boardwalk Loop. Those wishing to see more can continue with the ranger around the island perimeter for another 2.25 miles along the Jones Island and Upland Pine Trails. Pets are not permitted.
Crooked River State Park (St. Marys) - Enjoy a ranger-led hike on the Sempervierens Trail, and learn about native plants and their medicinal and historical uses along the way.
Fort McAllister State Park (Richmond Hill) - In the morning, join a ranger-led nature hike on a medium-difficulty 3-mile trail. Wear sturdy shoes, and bring water.
Skidaway Island State Park (Savannah) - Join this 2-mile hike with a naturalist on the Big Ferry Trail. Learn about the park and the programs planned for 2023.
Chattahoochee Bend State Park (Newnan) - In the afternoon, get a preview of the park’s new paved multi-use trail before it’s officially opened. The first mile of the trail is ADA-friendly.
Panola Mountain State Park (Stockbridge) - Hike to the top of the mountain to symbolize all the great things you will accomplish in 2023. The hike is 3 miles and moderately strenuous. Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. Ages 10 and up, and no pets are permitted.
Sweetwater Creek State Park (Lithia Springs) - Start off your year with a Sunrise Nature Hike over the ridgelines and down into the river corridor. This event is by pre-registration only. All participants earn a special hiking medallion.
Still looking for more? Here is the complete list of First Day Hikes at Georgia State Parks.