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Stepping Into 2019: Options Near Atlanta For ‘First Day’ Hikes

Georgia’s Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge is among the state parks around the country inviting people to take part in ranger-led “First Day” hikes every New Year. In Georgia, there are several options near Atlanta.
Georgia’s Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge is among the state parks around the country inviting people to take part in ranger-led “First Day” hikes every New Year. In Georgia, there are several options near Atlanta.
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If you’re looking for something to do on the first day of 2019, aside from sleeping in or nursing a hangover, Georgia’s State Parks encourages people to go for a hike.

This is part of a national initiative, where state parks around the country invite people to ranger-led First Day hikes every New Year.

In Georgia, there are several options near Atlanta: a kid-friendly hike at Fort Yargo State Park, a dog-friendly one at Sweetwater Creek and a history hike at Red Top Mountain. There’s a hike that’ll have a skyline view of Atlanta at Panola Mountain, and at Fort Mountain State Park, there’s the option to jump into what will probably be a pretty cold lake.

Kim Hatcher, with Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites, said winter is a good time for hikes in Georgia.

“If you think about it, without the leaves on the trees, you can see so much farther through the landscape,” she said. “You’ve got a good opportunity for seeing wildlife. You can appreciate the really cool shapes of trees that we have here, mossy boulders and small streams and waterfalls that would have been obstructed in the summer, you can see them in the winter.”

Hatcher declined to name her favorite Georgia State Park, but she said for anyone who can’t quite get themselves out for a hike on Jan. 1, some of Georgia’s historic sites will have ranger-led First Saturday hikes, the following weekend. Or, for people who want to spend more time outside, they can go early and spend the night in a park for New Year’s Eve.

The State Parks website has a list of all the ranger-led First Day hikes, including 13 options within 50 miles of Atlanta.

Farther afield options include stargazing in the Okefenokee Swamp at Stephen C. Foster State Park on the Friday after New Year’s Eve. It’s one of the best places in the country to see stars.