Life Events,  Outdoors,  State Parks

First Day Hike 2022

I kicked off 2022 on a hike with my dad at Panola Mountain. Each year, state parks across the country celebrate New Year’s Day with guided First Day Hikes. First Day Hikes first started in Massachusetts in 1992 and became a nationwide initiative supported by the American State Parks alliance in 2012. These hikes are intended to encourage people to get outdoors. I chose the First Day Hike at Panola Mountain State Park because I have visited the park several times but have never stepped foot on the granite mountain. This is because access to the mountain is limited to ranger-led hikes. Panola Mountain is the last pristine Monadnock ecosystem of its type in the Southeast United States. The 100-acre granite outcrop and surrounding land is a conservation area and was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1980.

Our guide, Erica, walked us through the ecology and history of the property. Erica touched on the history of the Muscogee Indians and their forced removal from their land. She talked about the subsequent owners of the property and the legal and illegal commercial activities that took place. Apparently, there was a history of bootlegging and remnants of this moonshine economy can still be found on the park property. Finally, we made it to the base of the mountain where we learned about the rare flora found on the surface of the granite.

Metal barrel used for making moonshine

The hike was slow and chill. The rain had stopped just before our trek began so the moss and lichen patches that covered the granite were lush and vibrant. The weather was quite pleasant. It was unseasonably warm for January, mostly cloudy with a nice breeze. I was glad I got to share that time with my Dad. I don’t remember everything we talked about, but I do remember how it made me feel; happy. My First Day Hike reflected how I would like to spend the rest of my year; outdoors exploring and making memories with family and friends.

On Panola Mountain
Making our way up the mountain
View of Stone Mountain from Panola