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Kick off a new year with a hike through Don Carter State Park
Jerry Ross, left, and Tony Chastain install the permanent Don Carter State Park sign as Georgia’s newest state park prepares to open last summer.

First Day Hike

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 1

Where: Don Carter State Park, 5000 N. Browning Bridge Road, Gainesville

Cost: $5 plus $5 parking

More info: 678-450-7726 or

All across America, state park systems are inviting citizens to start the new year with a “First Day Hike” and celebration of nature.

In Georgia, more than 40 state parks have planned ranger-led hikes to inspire participants to kick off 2014 with a commitment to healthy living.

From easy family-friendly strolls to more challenging treks, Georgia’s state parks offer a variety of choices for “First Day Hikes.” Some focus on history, such as walks through Civil War camps or to ancient Indian mounds.

Others highlight geologic wonders such as Tallulah Gorge or Providence Canyon. Seminole State Park is including a fitness challenge, and Fort Mountain State Park will end its hike with a “black bear plunge” into a cold mountain lake.

“Joining this movement to start the new year with a healthy hike is a great way to connect with nature, as well as your friends and family,” said Georgia State Parks Director Becky Kelley.

A First Day Hike on Lake Lanier is set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1 at Don Carter State Park in Gainesville.

A ranger will guide participants through the backcountry of the park before the trail is built. The 2-mile cross-country adventure will follow ridges, hills and valleys.

The hike moderate to strenuous is limited to 15 hikers. Call the Visitor Center at 678-450-7726 to reserve a spot.

Cost is $5 plus $5 parking. The park is at 5000 N. Browning Bridge Road in Gainesville.

For a list of other hikes, visit

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