August 25, 2013

State Parks: Safety In Numbers

For women hikers safety is of utmost importance and this is one of the reasons I love to hike at state parks. Park rangers are nearby to call in case of emergency, well-marked and maintained trails prevent getting lost, and easy to read, color-coded maps normally correspond with trail blazes.  For safety reasons, I recommend a minimum of four people for any hiking excursion. In case of emergency, two can go for help, and two can stay on the trail.

Georgia has 66 state parks and historic sites from marshes to mountains and from waterfalls to lakes. Fifty of the sites are operated by the Department of Natural Resources, providing outdoor recreation while protecting Georgia's natural beauty and historic integrity. All parks require a $5 parking fee, or you can purchase a $50 annual parking pass which is good for 12 months from date of purchase (senior and military discounts available).  Here is more information on Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites.

Below are some of my favorite state parks and hiking trails.

Cloudland Canyon State Park near Rising Fawn 

Established in 1938, Cloudland Canyon is located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain in Dade County. 

The newly reopened Bear Creek Backcountry Trail offers beautiful views from the eastern rim and may be hiked by permit only.

This is one of the most scenic parks in the state, offering rugged geology and beautiful vistas. 

Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth

High atop Fort Mountain are the rocky ruins of an ancient stone wall with prehistoric origin steeped in legend. Generations of archaeologists and historians have unsuccessfully sought to unravel the riddle of the wall.  More than 150 years after its discovery, there are still no answers as to who built the wall, when, and for what purpose. 

The Gahuti Trail travels around the edge of the park, passing just below the summits of both Cohutta and Fort mountains.

The Gahuti Trail is both beautiful and challenging in all seasons.  

Red Top Mountain State Park near Cartersville 

Red Top Mountain State Park is a very popular park located on 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona. More than 15 miles of hiking trails wind through the park providing opportunities for exercise and exploring. 

The 5.5-mile moderate Homestead trail begins at the front porch of the park's Visitor Center.  

The loop portion of the Homestead Trail follows the Allatoona lakeshore for approximately 2.25 miles and is named after one of several homesteads located in the area. 

Sweetwater Creek State Park near Lithia Springs 

Sweetwater Creek State Park is a conservation park which opened in 1976 and encompasses 2,549 acres of land 15 miles west of Atlanta.   It is a great place to escape the big city, and in my opinion a hidden jewel! 

The Red Trail is the recommended hike for first-time visitors and takes you alongside the white-water rapids of Sweetwater Creek and to the New Manchester mill ruins pictured below. 

The New Manchester mill ruins are a remnant of a mid-nineteenth century mill town which met its demise during the Civil War.

Always remember, there is safety in numbers and these beautiful Georgia State Parks will help you Keep on Hiking.

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