Spring at Georgia State Parks with Wildflower Hikes & Festivals

Spring is almost here, and eye-catching blooms like dogwoods and azaleas will soon be found throughout Georgia’s State Parks.  It’s the perfect time to get the family outdoors and take advantage of sunshine and warmer temperatures.  Several guided wildflower hikes are offered by parks with a large number of native plants, including Sweetwater Creek, Amicalola Falls, Unicoi, Tallulah Gorge and Mistletoe.  For details on upcoming wildflower hikes, visit www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/events.

SPRING BREAK ON A BUDGET

Looking for a way to get the kids outdoors for a day of adventure without spending a lot of money? Remember that a Georgia library card is all you need to check out a ParkPass or Historic Site Pass at Georgia’s public libraries. The passes are good for free parking or admission at any of Georgia’s State Parks and State Historic Sites. There are tons of family-friendly events to enjoy, from moonlit hikes and paddles, to astronomy programs and bluegrass concerts. For a listing of Georgia’s public libraries, go to www.georgialibraries.org.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY GOLF

Skip the suburban golf courses and take your young golfer to one of our eight state park golf courses. No crowds and no subdivisions!  Rounds start as low as $25 for 18 holes (weekdays). For tee times, call (800) 434-0982. More information is available at www.GeorgiaGolf.com.

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MARCH EVENTS
This list is divided by region. Check www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/events for the full listing.  You can also become a fan on Facebook to receive the latest news, or follow us on Twitter.
NORTHERN GEORGIA

Appalachian Trail Celebration & Backpacking Clinic

Saturday, March 5 through Sunday, March 6, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge – Dawsonville

Hear about Appalachian Trail adventures from the past and present, and learn how you can conserve the trail and its legacy in the future. Enjoy demonstrations and workshops by professionals and retailers on an assortment of backpacking gear, and take part in discussions on trip preparation.  $5 parking. (706) 265-1969.

Dirty Spokes Duathlon

Saturday, March 12, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Fort Yargo State Park – Winder

Participants will run-bike-run the scenic trails of this park between Athens and Atlanta. www.dirtyspokes.com Fee plus $5 parking. (770) 867-3489.

Flies and Fly Water

Saturday, March 19, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Smithgall Woods Conservation Park – Helen

In preparation for the upcoming spring fishing season, we will have a show and tell, helpful hints, and “how to” on fly tying, stream reading, casting and more. Hear a presentation on Stream Entomology (aka stream critters) by Wildlife Interpretive Specialist Sheila Humphrey. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 878-3087.

Full Moon Suspension Bridge Hike

Saturday, March 19, 8:15 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Sunday, March 20, 9:15 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls

Join Tallulah Rangers an a moonlit hike down into the gorge. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 754-7981.

Astronomy Night at Unicoi

Saturday, March 26, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Unicoi State Park and Lodge – Helen

We will have an Astronomy Club conduct lectures and a “sidewalk stargazing” program to help the novice stargazer learn the winter night sky. Weather and clouds permitting. $5 parking. 800-573-9659 ext. 305.

Fort Yargo Colonial Market Faire

Thursday, March 31 through Sunday, April 3, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Fort Yargo State Park – Winder

This 18th century living history event will feature persons dressed in 18th century fashion, proprietors of fine wares and provisions, tradesmen, and artisans. Adults $2, Children $1. $5 parking. (770) 867-3489.

COASTAL GEORGIA

Confederate Fort Occupation

Saturday, March 5, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Fort McAllister Historic Park – Richmond Hill

Confederate soldiers will occupy the fort for demonstrations dealing with common soldier life along with musket and cannon firings. These programs will be offered to the public from 11am-5pm. A candle lantern tour of the troops and fort will be conducted at 7pm. $3.50-$5.00 (912) 727-2339.

Trembling Earth Hike in the Okefenokee

Saturdays, March 5, 12, 19, and 26, 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Stephen C. Foster State Park – Fargo

Take a guided hike on the Trembling Earth Nature Trail. As you hike, learn about the plants and animals found in the beautiful Okefenokee Swamp and why wildfire is such an important factor to this unique ecosystem. $2 plus $5 parking. (912) 637-5274.

Scottish Heritage Day

Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Fort King George Historic Site – Darien

A variety of living history demonstrations devoted to Scottish and colonial culture will be featured. A battle re-enactment will take place a 2 p.m. $3.50-$5. (912) 437-4770.

Man in the Swamp

Saturday, March 26, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Stephen C. Foster State Park –Fargo

Come to the Interpretive Center Thursday evening to hear an “old timer” couple give their entertaining first-hand experiences while living in the Okefenokee. Purchase tickets at the Main Office before Thursday’s program. $2 plus $5 parking. (912) 637-5274.

GO-pher a Carnival

Saturday, March 26, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Skidaway Island State Park – Savannah

Kids, celebrate the beginning of spring with the whole family, and see live animals, ride the hayrides, win prizes with games galore, crazy crafts, food, music, and much more! $5 parking. (912) 598-2300.

SOUTHERN & CENTRAL GEORGIA

Kite Rally

Saturday, March 5, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Florence Marina State Park – Omaha

Enjoy a day flying kites over looking the lake. Make your own kite with furnished materials or bring one from a store. We’ll have flying contests and prizes for the best-made kite. $2 plus $5 parking. (229) 838-4706.

Spanish Moss Festival

Saturday, March 5, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge – Helena

Bring your family to enjoy food and craft vendors. Activities include a kids train ride, reptile show and “walk on the water” pool. There will also be performances by local bands, cloggers and Zumba dancers. $5 parking. (229) 868-7474.

Archaeology At Camp Lawton

Saturday, March 5, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Sunday, March 27, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Magnolia Springs State Park – Millen

Talk with Georgia Southern University’s archaeology team about recent findings at Camp Lawton, a Confederate Prison Camp for Union POWs. Learn about the camp’s history and daily lives of the prisoners, and see some of the equipment being used to uncover artifacts. Photos of the artifacts will be available for viewing. $5 parking. (478) 982-1660.

Astronomy Night

Saturday, March 5, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area – Lumpkin

Providence Canyon is an ideal location to view night skies because there is virtually no light pollution. Join the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and Columbus State University as they reveal the night skies through the use of telescopes and share mythological stories about the constellations. $5 parking. (229) 838-6202.

Chattahoochee Trail Horse Association Poker Ride & Scavenger Hunt

Saturday, March 26, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

A.H. Stephens Historic Park – Crawfordville

Ride your horse on 12 miles of beautiful trails. Participate in a drawing, 9:30 a.m. poker ride, 1 p.m. scavenger hunt and earn a chance to win great prizes. Register from 8 to 9 a.m. A hot lunch will be served at noon. For more information contact Debbie Crowe at (770)-466-4430. $10 – $25 $5 parking. (770) 466-4430.

Campfire, S’mores and Astronomy

Saturday, March 26, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Georgia Veterans State Park – Cordele

Enjoy s’mores and spooky stories around a roaring campfire. Nearby, an astronomy program will be presented to view first magnitude stars and planets. A wagon ride will be provided to and from the program area. $3 plus $5 parking. (229) 276-2371.

METRO ATLANTA 

Introduction to Backpacking

Saturday, March 5, 10 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

This beginner’s class will take place in an outdoor classroom. This is a great introduction on how to prepare for backcountry hiking; what is essential, how to save weight, and what to leave at home. Meet at the nature center 30 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $7 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Atlanta Audubon Society Intro to Birdwatching Hike

Saturday, March 5, 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

This field trip is designed for anyone interested in learning more about birds, the important habitats critical to some species, and organizations like the Audubon Society which are dedicated to bird conservation. Meet at the park’s Interpretive Center. $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

New Manchester History Hike

Saturdays, March 5, 12, 19 and 26, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

This mile-long hike (easy to moderate) will lead us to the five story ruins of the Civil War-era New Manchester textile mill and focus on the history of the Sweetwater Creek Valley. This hike will include going inside the ruins and seeing the lovely rapids (providing great photo opportunities). $3-$4 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

Sunday Afternoon Fly Fishing

Sunday, March 6, 2 p.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Casting is the backbone of this clinic; however, if time permits will also cover equipment, knot tying, and safety issues and other tricks of the trade. Master Instructor C. H. Brown suggests wearing long pants/shorts and hiking shoes, and bringing snacks, water and sun lotion. Georgia fishing license required. Meeting at the Alexander Lake Parking Area. We recommend arriving 30 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $15 or $12 with own gear. $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Hunter Safety Education Class (CD ROM Class)

Monday, March 7, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

Resident and non-resident hunters born after Jan. 1, 1961 must successfully complete this class prior to purchasing a hunting license. You must register for this class at www.georgiawildlife.com or call 770-389-7275 or 1-800-864-7275. This hunter education class is taught by Dept. of Nat. Resources Law Enforcement Division, and volunteer instructors. The class will meet at the Sweetwater Creek Interpretive Center. $5 parking. 1-800-864-7275.

Lost Person Prevention

Saturday, March 12, 10 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Learn simple techniques for not getting lost and keeping track of your family when venturing into the great outdoors of Georgia. Search and Rescue Dog Team will be joining the class unless a SAR activity is occurring. Meeting at the nature center. We recommend arriving 30 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $5 parking. I770) 389-7801.

Basic Fly Fishing Clinic

Saturday, March 12, 10 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

The two-hour clinic covers equipment, knot tying, casting, safety issues and other tricks of the trade. If time permits participants may stay to catch the “Fish of Fish.” Instructors C. H. Brown and Michael Reilley suggest wearing long pants/shorts and hiking shoes, and bringing snacks, water and sun lotion. Georgia fishing license required. Meeting at the Alexander Lake Parking Area. We recommend arriving 30 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $15 or $12 with own gear. $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Introduction to Archery

Saturday, March 12, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

Certified archery instructors Lloyd and Alicia Ballard will give hands-on instruction for using a bow and arrow. This class will focus on safety and how to adjust for accuracy based on target and distance. This class is recommended for ages 6 and older. Meet at Picnic Shelter Two near the bait shop. Register in advance. $10 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

ZZZ’s in the Trees

Saturday, March 12 through Sunday, March 13, 6 p.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Join us aloft for a tranquil night in the canopy as you lay in your “tree-boat,” viewing stars glimmering like diamonds in the sky. A treetop bivouac camp will be established in our secluded climbing tree for an overnight experience. Participants should bring dinner, breakfast and a sleeping bag. Register in advance. $125 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Behind the Scene Tour: A.P. Stewart’s Line

Saturday, March 12

Pickett’s Mill Battlefield Historic Site – Dallas

This tour takes visitors to seldom seen areas of the park, including an area occupied by Maj. Gen A.P. Stewart’s Division from May 29 to June 5, 1864. $2.75 – $4 (770) 443 7850.         

Artifact Identification Day

Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site – Cartersville

A professional archaeologist will be available to date and identify artifacts brought in by visitors. Many interesting and spectacular items will be shown. Bring your artifacts, heirlooms and imagination for a day of fun and learning for all ages. $3.50-$5 plus tax. (770) 387-3747.

Saturday Mountain Hike

Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

These guided hikes depart from Panola’s nature center and are for people in good physical condition. This hike allows park visitors to see Panola Mountain up close, as the Ranger explains the reasons Panola Mountain is protected, and what we can all do to preserve the natural beauty of granite outcrops. Bring sturdy shoes, water, bug spray, and your camera! The Panola Mountain hike starts at 10am and generally lasts 2-3 hours. Rain or shine. Meeting at the nature center. $7 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Tree Top Excursions: Introduction Climb

Saturday, March 19, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Join us “on rope” for an adventure exploring the canopy above. This is an introductory climb to Canopy-Adventure-Research-Educational Technical Tree Climbing (CARE TTC). Participants will use rope and harness for this moderately strenuous activity. Meeting at Naomi-Ruth Climbing Tree. We recommend arriving 30 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $15 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Panola Mountain Night Hike

Saturday, March 19, 7 p.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Join us for an enchanted evening as we hike to the mountain top under the watchful eye of the full moon. We’ll head out just before sunset and enjoy the stroll as the moon begins to rise. Bring flashlights, hiking boots and water. Meet at the nature center 30 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $7 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

“Ruins to Rapids” Full Moon Hike

Saturday, March 19, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

This 1.5-mile ranger-led night hike is moderately difficult and goes inside the Civil War-era textile mill ruins of New Manchester and follows the lovely rapids (up to class IV) of Sweetwater Creek. Bring a flashlight and sturdy shoes. No children under 6 or dogs. Meet inside the Visitor Center. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

Hills of Iron

Saturday, March 19

Red Top Mountain State Park – Cartersville

Hear the roar of two iron furnaces once again in the Etowah Valley. The iron business in Bartow County was one of Georgia’s first industries long before the Civil War. Take guided tours of the historic Iron Hill section and watch molten iron pour from an operating blast furnace at 2800 degrees Fahrenheit. Scratch block molds will be available for purchase so you can make your own keepsake. $5 parking. (770) 975-4226.

Backcountry Geology Hike

Sunday, March 20, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

Geologist and Friends member John Johnston will lead a moderate three-mile hike identifying rock types and explaining how they formed. Explore the beautiful Jack’s Branch area and the seldom visited rock quarry of New Manchester. Meet in the Interpretive Center. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

Early Spring Wildflower Hike

Sunday, March 20, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Sunday, March 27, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

This 2-mile ranger-led hike will be moderately strenuous and will pass through a variety of wildflower habitats and beautiful areas. Meet in the Interpretive Center. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5876

Chattahoochee Riverside Hike

Saturday, March 26, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

This easy to moderate three-mile hike will take us mostly alongside the Chattahoochee River in Sweetwater Creek State Park. Explore beautiful and seldom-visited areas of the Park. Meet at the Interpretive Center where we will carpool 10 minutes to the trailhead. Register in advance. $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

Woodland Butterflies

Saturday, March 26, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

Spring is a great time of year to see butterflies. This 2-mile hike will cover the Red Trail up to the mill, then the Blue Trail back to the Interpretive Center. Bring a camera or close-focus binoculars for memories that will last a lifetime. We will see spring butterflies like Spring Azures, Zebra Swallowtails, and Falcate Orange-Tips. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

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