Kick-off Fall with a Free Day at Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites September 25

Georgia State Park

Cooler weather is coming soon — ideal for getting the family outdoors for a weekend camping trip, kayak adventure or even picnic in the park.  Plan ahead and take advantage of free admission to Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites on Saturday, September 25.  The statewide celebration is part of National Public Lands Day and a way to thank park visitors and volunteers for their support of outdoor recreation and historic preservation.

The regular $5 parking fee will be waived on Free Day in the Parks, historic sites will open their doors for free and even fishing enthusiasts will not need a license that day.

Sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company, Free Day in the Parks also includes dozens of family-friendly activities including kids fishing rodeos, archery shooting, wildlife shows, pioneer festival, canoeing and more. A complete September calendar is listed below or available online at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/events.

Families interested in planning a weekend staycation can take advantage of campsites, fully equipped cottages, yurts and hotel-style lode rooms.  To make reservations, call 1-800-864-7275.  For more information, visit www.GeorgiaStateParks.org.

SEPTEMBER EVENTS —  This partial list is divided by region.  Check the website for all events.

www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/events.
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NORTHERN GEORGIA

Holiday Gorge Floor Hike
Saturday, September 4, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.Sunday,
September 5, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Monday, September 6, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls

This guided hike will take you from rim to river while learning about the gorge’s unique environments. Be sure to wear proper footwear (no flip-flops or crocs). This hike is strenuous and will involve rock hopping and getting wet. Bring a lunch and lots of water. For ages 10 and older. Register in advance. $5 plus $5 parking. (706) 754-7981.

Mountain Music and Arts & Crafts Festival
Saturdays, September 11, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Vogel State Park – Blairsville

This popular event includes Appalachian, bluegrass and gospel music; arts and crafts booths; demonstrations on spinning, blacksmithing and bowl carving; and food concessions provided by Vogel Volunteers. $2-$5 plus $5 parking. (706) 745-2628.

Mountain Herb DaySaturday,
September 11, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Smithgall Woods Conservation Park – Helen

Immerse yourself in the rich tradition of healing with medicines made from local plants. A medicinal plant hike and medicine making demonstration will also be included with a focus on stocking the winter medicine cabinet. Interpretive Ranger and Herbalist Johnna Tuttle is the instructor. Register by September 4. $25 plus $5 parking. (706) 878-3087.

Tugaloo Triathlon
Saturday, September 11, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Tugaloo State Park – Lavonia

Watch or participate in this invigorating event that includes a 1.5k swim, 42k bike ride and 10k run. Entry fee. $5 parking. (706) 356-4362. www.gamultisports.org

Youth Fishing Days at Buck Shoals
Saturday, September 18, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Smithgall Woods Conservation Park – Helen

Children and their special “big person” can fish in a lake stocked with catfish, bass, and bream. Fish caught can be kept. Bring your own bait and rods. Some rods are available for loan. Call for directions to Buck Shoals. $5 parking. (706) 878-3087.

Traveler’s Rest Pioneer Days

Saturday, September 18, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Travelers Rest Historic Site – Toccoa

Talents and skills of the early 1800s pioneers are brought back to life. Demonstrators will be on hand for spinning, weaving, blacksmithing, hearth cooking, and doll making and other pioneer skills. Visitors will also enjoy live period music and dancing. $2.75-$4. (706) 886-2256.

Outdoor Adventure Day

Saturday, September 25, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Unicoi State Park and Lodge – Helen

Learn how to catch a trout, paddle a canoe, and shoot a shotgun. Try activities like fly tying and casting, bass fishing basics, and trout fishing in the stocked stream, archery, BB gun and skeet shooting. There will also be wildlife shows with live snakes and hawks and hayrides. 800-573-9659 ext. 305.

COASTAL GEORGIA

Labor Day at Fort McAllister

Saturday, September 4, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Fort McAllister Historic Park – Richmond Hill

From blacksmith to wood worker, all trades were needed to keep this fort in operation. Come see how it was done. $3.50 – $5. (912) 727-2339.

Labor Day Commemoration

Saturday, September 4, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Fort Morris Historic Park – Midway

Commemorate Labor Day holiday with hourly soldier talks and musket and cannon firings at this scenic coastal fort. $2.75-$4. (912) 884-5999.

Labor Day Weekend

Saturday, September 4, through Sunday, September 5

Skidaway Island State Park – Savannah

Take the day off and watch a reptile show and awaken your senses with a night hike. Join in a volleyball game, family games, hayrides, a campfire and hoppin’ frog hike. $5 parking. (912) 598-2300.

Experience Coastal Georgia Festival

Saturday, September 11, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Crooked River State Park – St. Marys

Celebrate the bounty of Georgia’s coast. Nature programs, crafts, food, kayak trips, water festivities and more details to come. $5 parking. (912) 882-5256.

Cathead Creek Canoe Excursion

Saturday, September 18, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Fort King George Historic Site – Darien

A 3-mile trip through the old rice canals with a variety of plants and wildlife.  (Intermediate) $20 includes canoes, paddles, and life jackets. Participants are responsible for their own food. (912) 437-4770.

Scavenger Hunt and Blackpowder Demo

Saturday, September 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fort King George Historic Site – Darien

Visit the fort and complete the Family Scavenger Hunt to be eligible to win one of three gift certificates. Living history and black powder demonstrations will be on-going. (912) 437-4770.

Colonial Cricket

Saturday, September 25, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Wormsloe Historic Site – Savannah

The sport of cricket returns to Savannah as it was played among the first colonists in the 1730s. Capt. Noble Jones will be on hand to explain the rules and umpire the matches. No equipment is necessary and anyone can play. (912) 353-3023.

Invasive Plant Day

Saturday, September 25, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Skidaway Island State Park, Savnnah

Volunteer to be a “Tallow Terror” and learn how to “hack and squirt” for the removal of the highly invasive Chinese Tallow Trees. (912) 598-2300.

SOUTHERN & CENTRAL GEORGIA

Labor Day Festival

Saturday, September 4 through Monday, September 6, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Florence Marina State Park – Omaha

Family celebration including games, boat rides, and crafts. $4 plus $5 parking. (229) 838-4706.

Swim the Warm Springs – Dip Into The Past

Saturday, September 4 through Monday, September 6, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Roosevelt’s Little White House Historic Site – Warm Springs

Swim in the historic pools built by President F.D. Roosevelt as a place for therapy. Normally kept empty for preservation, the shallow pools will be filled with naturally warm spring water. Space is limited to 80 per session. Reservations suggested. All remaining tickets will be sold first-come, first-served, based on availability.  $20 adults; $12.50 ages 6 to 17; Family Package-$75. (706) 655-5870.

Grits & Cornmeal

Sunday, September 5, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Hamburg State Park– Mitchell

Watch how cornmeal and grits were once made at Hamburg’s historic gristmill. Before leaving, purchase a bag to take home and use. $5 parking. (478) 552-2393

Remembering World War 11 – Operation Market Garden

Saturday, September 11, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Roosevelt’s Little White House Historic Site – Warm Springs

Veterans of major campaigns from WWII will be here to meet visitors. Kelly’s Zeroes’ living-history organization will feature displays and exhibits regarding Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne operation in history. Living conditions “On the Home Front” will highlight the role of the homemaker during WWII. $5-$8. (706) 655-5870.

Tenth Annual Elijah Clark Bluegrass Festival

Friday, September 17 through Sunday, September 19, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Elijah Clark State Park – Lincolnton

Bring your lawn chairs and affection for bluegrass music. Talent from all over the Southeast will be performing. Vendors will provide good food so you can enjoy music all day. $5 parking. 800-864-7275.

Hamburg Arts & Crafts Festival

Saturday, September 18 through Sunday September 19, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Hamburg State Park– Mitchell

This annual festival begins at 9 a.m. with a kids fishing rodeo (15 and younger); bring your own gear and bait. At 10 a.m., park visitors can browse arts and crafts booths and food vendors, watch the historic gristmill in operation, and take an old-fashioned hayride. $2 hayrides plus $5 parking. (478) 552-2393.

Pioneer Harvest Festival

Saturday, September 25, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

General Coffee State Park – Nicholls

The Heritage Farm will come to life as volunteers demonstrate the skills of farm life from the 1800s. This festival includes crafters, musicians and dancers. Donations appreciated. $5 parking. (912) 384-1581.

Junior Fishing Rodeo and Lakeside Cleanup

Saturday, September 25, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Reed Bingham State Park – Adel

Children 15 and under bring your poles and rods so you can fish in the stocked ponds from 9am-11am. Families bring your gloves and join other volunteers in doing a shoreline cleanup around the lake and behind the dam. (229) 896-3551.

Junior Angler Fishing Rodeo

Saturday, September 25, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Indian Springs State Park – Flovilla

Join us for “Save our State Parks Day” with a fun-filled morning where even little fish bring on big smiles and each fish caught makes you a prize-winning angler! Participants ages 15 and younger are welcomed with an adult. Please bring poles, tackle and chairs. This is a great opportunity for kids to learn about fishing while supporting our Georgia State Parks. $5 parking. (770) 504-2277.

METRO ATLANTA

Survival Skills Series:  Fire Starting

Saturday, September 4, 10 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Start a campfire without lighter fluid. Learn basic methods of starting campfires in survival situations. Take time to practice these skills as well as understand precautions that must be considered when starting campfires. This program will also briefly cover wildfires and prescribed burns. Register in advance. $7 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Mountain Music Series

Saturday, September 4, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Red Top Mountain State Park – Cartersville

Bring your instrument or just come listen. Open jam is from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., open stage is 6 – 8 p.m. and bluegrass concerts are at 8 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and have fun with the whole family. $5 parking. (770) 975-0055.

Sunday Afternoon Fly Fishing Clinic

Sunday, September 5, 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. Register in advance. $15 or $12 with own gear. $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Survival Skills Series:  Edible Plants

Saturday, September 11, 10 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Could you survive on plants you found in the forest? Learn which plants will help you and which plants will make you itch. This program will also cover plants that can provide water and which plants have medicinal qualities. Register in advance. $7 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Harvest Time at the Homestead

Saturday, September 11 through Sunday, September 12, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Red Top Mountain State Park – Cartersville

Step back in time to the 1800s as demonstrators present harvest activities at the Vaughn Cabin. Experience the evolution of early American life as interpreters and skilled crafts people bring the past to life. Try your hand at many pioneer skills. $5 parking. (770) 975-0055.

Family Camping Clinic

Saturday, September 11 through Sunday, September 12, 2 p.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

This clinic allows the whole family to build confidence and develop an appreciation of the natural world through science education, exploration, and the classic fun of camping. Please bring your own gear. We will supply water, base camp, and outdoor programs such as Search and Rescue Classes, Fly Fishing, Canoeing and other wilderness adventure programs. Meeting at the nature center, unless stated otherwise. We recommend arriving 30 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $80 for a family of 5. $50 for a family of 3. $35 for a family of 2 or less. $5 parking. 770-389-7801.

New Manchester History Hike

Saturday s, September, 4,11, 18 and 25, 10 a.m. – 12 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 Historian or Ranger-led hike will include going inside the impressive mill ruins and seeing the lovely whitewater rapids (both providing great photo opportunities). $2-$3 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

Georgia’s Indian Heritage Lecture

Saturday, September 18, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site – Cartersville

Dr. Max White, Professor of History at Piedmont College, will speak on Georgia’s Indian heritage, including prehistoric Creek and Cherokee peoples, their culture, contributions, trials and successes. Dr. White will also discuss the modern tribes we know today. $3.50 – $5.00. (770) 387-3747.

New Manchester Days

Saturday, September 18 through Sunday, September 19, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

This two-day living history event will bring to life the New Manchester Community that prospered up to the Civil War. Visit an authentic Civil War-era encampment, and medical tent, take a historical tour to the New Manchester Mill, and learn about Civil War-era firearms during black powder demonstrations. $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

“Ruins to Rapids” Full Moon Hike

Friday, September 24, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

This 1.5 mile ranger-guided 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. The hike will continue if it is overcast but will be postponed until the following night if raining. Bring a flashlight and sturdy shoes. No children under 6 or dogs. Limited to 50 people; phone registration in advance required. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

Road Bike Ride

Saturday, September 25, 9 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Join us for a 41-mile ride with a 23-mile option. We will be highlighting the Arabia Mountain Path and gently traveled country roads of Rockdale, Dekalb and Henry counties. Meet at the Alexander Lake Parking Area. We recommend arriving 30 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $5 parking. (404) 375-6789.

Cleanup Sweetwater Creek

Saturday, September 25, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

Join us for a park cleanup, light trail maintenance, native grass plantings, and invasive plant removal on the 17th annual National Public Lands Day, our nation’s largest hands-on volunteer event to improve and enhance the public lands Americans enjoy. (770) 732-5871.

Mountain Bike Adventures

Saturday, September 25, 10 a.m.

Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge

Join the Southern Bicycle League at the Rockdale River Trail for an off-road adventure. This ride will take you to scenic vistas, wetland complexes and pine savannah, including both dirt and paved trails. Meet at the Alexander Lake Parking Area. We recommend arriving 30 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

ZZZ’s in the Trees

Saturday September 25 through Sunday, September 26

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 are required to provide their own dinner and breakfast, as well as a sleeping bag. Meeting at the nature center, unless stated otherwise. We recommend arriving 30 minutes before each program. Register in advance. $125 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.

Etowah Mounds Clean Up Day

Saturday, September 25, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site – Cartersville

Volunteers are needed to help spread wood chips on paths, clean up picnic areas and mulch trees. (770) 387-3747.

Geology Hike

Saturday, September 26, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs

Geologist and “Friends of Sweetwater Creek State Park” member John Johnston will lead a moderate 2-mile hike identifying rock types and explaining how they formed. There will also be a visit inside the ruins of the Civil War era New Manchester Mill alongside the beautiful rapids of Sweetwater Creek. $5 plus $5 parking. (770) 732-5871.

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