James H. “Sloppy” Floyd Park

A ranger-led hike today will take visitors to James H. “Sloppy” Floyd Park in Summerville along a trail to the old marble mine. (Photo contributed by Georgia State Parks)

First Day Hikes, a program designed to start the New Year outdoors instead of in front of a television set or computer screen at home, was a concept initiated by the America's State Parks organization.

Hikers who plan to participate Tuesday may want to bring boots that can deal with mud.

"I love that it gets you started off in the New Year getting some fresh air and seeing our local plants and wildlife. It's a good energetic start to the new year," said Ranger Serella Savenko at Red Top Mountain State Park.

Formal First Day Hikes are planned at the Rocky Mountain Public Fishing Area northwest of Rome, Sloppy Floyd State Park near Summerville, Red Top Mountain State Park at Cartersville and most of the other parks across Northwest Georgia.

The hike at Rocky Mountain will be a three mile, ranger led hike around the lakes.

"It'll happen, rain or shine," said Ranger Dennis Shiley, who will be leading his third First Day hike at Rocky Mountain.

"You can never go wrong getting out hiking." He said the hike would leave from the Visitors Center at 9 a.m. so people should arrive between 8:30 and 8:45.

"I try to schedule the hikes around everybody's abilities. We have a couple of different options," Shiley said. "They'll possibly see eagles, maybe some deer and turkey, it just kind of depends on how many people are here and how much noise we make.”

There is a $5 parking fee at each of the parks.

The Red Top Mountain hike, which will begin at 1 p.m. from the Iron Hill Trail parking lot, will explore the iron-mining history of the area and rangers will also take time to point out plants along the way that original settlers would have used for medicinal purposes. The hike will last about an hour and a half and cover about a mile and a half.

"We stop a lot along the way because we're discussing the history," Savenko said

Ranger Savenko said that Red Top Mountain gets its name from the rich iron-content in the area and visitors will actually have a chance to go into one of the old open-air mines.

"It's hard to know if no one is telling you what actually happened in that landscape," Savenko said.

The ranger said that people should dress for the weather because the hike will go on as long as the weather doesn't turn to snow or ice. Call 770-975-0055 for directions to the Iron Hill Trail.

At Sloppy Floyd Park, ranger-led two mile hikes at either 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. will take visitors to the historic old marble mine. Ranger Luke Daniels said that the park was at one time home to the Georgia Marble Company which moved from Summerville to Tate in 1964.

“We're going to walk up past the old house where they separated the types of marble and the dynamite shack and on up to the waterfall and reflecting pool," Daniels said. “We'll offer a neat little history lesson along the way, rain or shine."