State parks across the country, including 12 in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia, are ringing in the new year with a First Day Hike.
The nationwide event is sponsored by America's State Parks. Outings are scheduled Sunday and Monday.
2012 marks the 75th anniversary of Tennessee state parks, and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau said the series of First Hikes is a fitting way to begin the various celebrations coming up this year.
"Following the old Gaelic tradition of 'first footing,' the First Hikes are meant to encourage all Tennesseans to hit the trail and get 2012 started on the right foot," he said.
Georgia State Parks Director Becky Kelley adds that winter is a great time to go hiking because vistas normally hidden by foliage are revealed.
"You can really appreciate the magnificent shapes of trees, and you'll see rocks and streams that are normally out of sight," she said. "Plus, winter is a good time to look for wildlife like fox and turkey."
Complete lists of events can be found at here.
Booker T. Washington State Park: 10 a.m. Monday; meet at Shelter 1B. Ranger-led, one-mile hike through the park, with hot chocolate and coffee to follow. 894-4955, www.tnstateparks.com/BookerTWashington.
Harrison Bay State Park: 2 p.m. Sunday; meet at bike trailhead. Ranger-led, moderate 4.5-mile hike features examples of local history and ecology along Chickamauga Reservoir. 344-6214, www.tnstateparks.com/HarrisonBay.
Cumberland Mountain State Park: 10 a.m. CST Monday; meet at park restaurant. Ranger-led, moderate, two-mile hike along the banks of Byrd Creek. Hot cocoa and coffee served inside the restaurant before and after. 931-484-6138, www.tnstateparks.com/CumberlandMtn.
Cumberland Trail State Park: 10 a.m. Sunday; meet at head of the Sequatchie Resource Management Area. Count on two hours to complete this nearly two-mile hike along Gravelly Spur Road, which led the earliest American settlers into the Sequatchie Valley from Grassy Cove in the first decade of the 19th century. The hike will explore the possible segments of the road, some areas lined with stacked rock fencing and views of Hinch Mountain. Head of the Sequatchie will be open 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. CST for self-guided hiking on the grounds. 423-566-2229, 423-533-4003.