Free guided hikes offered across Tennessee, Georgia to start new year

Free guided hikes offered across Tennessee, Georgia to start new year

December 12th, 2017 by Mark Pace in Breaking News

A sign directs hikers at the top of the Highway 27 staircase along the Cumberland Trail State Park in the Tennessee River Gorge Segment in Marion County, Tenn.

Photo by C.B. Schmelter /Times Free Press.

Those wanting to live a healthier life in 2018 don't have to wait long to get started on their New Year's resolutions and can do so while avoiding the sweaty confines of the gym.

Tennessee and Georgia will join state parks across the country in First Day hikes. All 50 states will once again participate, offering free, guided hikes on both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

"From midnight hikes to historical tours to kayak paddles, Tennessee State Parks offer a unique activity for every outdoor enthusiast," said Brock Hill, deputy commissioner of parks and conservation at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. "Our First Day Hikes can be the beginning of a New Year's resolution for better health and wellness in 2018."

Fifty-five state parks in Tennessee will participate, and hikes will range from less-strenuous one-mile hikes to longer, more grueling excursions for experienced hikers. Participating sites stretch from as far west as T.O. Fuller State Park near the Tennessee/Arkansas border and as far east as Roan Mountain State Park near the state's border with North Carolina.

Participating locations in the state within an hour of Chattanooga include Harrison Bay State Park, Booker T. Washington State Park, Red Clay State Historic Park, Hiwassee/Ocoee State Scenic River State Park, South Cumberland State Park and Fall Creek Falls State Park.

Other nearby locations in Georgia include Fort Mountain State Park, Rocky Mountain Recreation & Public Fishing Area and James H. Floyd State Park.

"Winter is a particularly scenic time for enjoying trails because the open canopy means hikers can see farther through the woods," according to Georgia State Park officials in a release from the agency.

Those in the area wanting to truly bring in the new year with a hike can do so with a midnight hike at Harrison Bay State Park. The hike will begin at 11 p.m. on the Harrison Bay Star Walk Trial.

For more information or to find a hike near you, click here for Tennessee and here for Georgia.

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at or 423-757-6361. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook @ChattanoogaOutdoors.

This story was updated Dec. 13, 2017, at 11:12 p.m.