Parking, admission is free at state parks on Saturday

The free outdoors

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For a few days each year, admission is free at national parks across America. National Public Lands Day on Saturday is one of those days.

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Carolyn and Don Sloan, of Augusta, paddle their canoe across a cove at Thurmond Lake near their campsite at Mistletoe State Park. Saturday is National Public Lands Day, and parking and admission to many parks in Georgia will be free.  FILE
FILE
Carolyn and Don Sloan, of Augusta, paddle their canoe across a cove at Thurmond Lake near their campsite at Mistletoe State Park. Saturday is National Public Lands Day, and parking and admission to many parks in Georgia will be free.

The Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites has dubbed it Your State Parks Day, and urges park guests to sign up as volunteers.

Special events will be held at national and state parks across the country. In Georgia, they include volunteer projects, family outings and kids’ events at parks across the state.

Parking is normally $5 at state parks, and admission ranges from $2.50 to $10 at state historic sites. On Saturday at most parks, parking and admission are free.

South Carolina’s state parks and historic sites near Augusta are not participating, a spokeswoman said.

National Public Lands Day began in 1994 as an opportunity to get volunteers out on trails, removing trash, planting trees and other work to maintain natural and cultural resources. That first year, 700 volunteers participated at three sites across the country. Last year, more than 170,000 volunteers worked at upwards of 2,000 parks and historic sites.

HARD LABOR CREEK STATE PARK, RUTLEDGE

DISTANCE FROM AUGUSTA: 103 miles
TO DO:
Two lakes, 30 horse stalls with 22-miles of trails, a riding ring, equestrian camping, swimming beach and bathhouse, The Creek Golf Course, lake swimming, pedal boats rental, canoe rental, fishing boat rentals, birding, hiking on 2.5 miles of trail, geocaching, playground
SPECIAL EVENT:
Evening Kayak and Wildlife Watching Adventures, 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 29; A ranger-led paddle will take participants around Lake Rutledge for viewing birds, mammals, dragonflies and other wildlife. Ages 4 and older. Register in advance. $15 includes equipment.
LEARN MORE:
gastateparks.org/HardLaborCreek or call (706) 557-3001.

MISTLETOE STATE PARK, APPLING

DISTANCE FROM AUGUSTA: 40 miles
TO DO:
Fishing on the 71,100-acre Thurmond Lake, camping, boating, canoe rental, swimming and beaches, hiking and bicycling, geocaching, playground
SPECIAL EVENT:
Kids Fishing Rodeo, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sept. 29; A special area will be stocked with fish so kids can catch dinner for the family. Bring pole and tackle. No fishing license required.
LEARN MORE:
gastateparks.org/Mistletoe or call (706) 541-0321.

ELIJAH CLARK STATE PARK

DISTANCE FROM AUGUSTA: 40 miles
TO DO:
Swimming, beach, log cabin museum, fishing pier with cleaning station and accessible pier, boating and skiing with four ramps, canoe rental, archery, geocaching, hiking, miniature golf, playground
SPECIAL EVENT:
Kid’s Fish Fest, 12 to 5 p.m. Sept. 29; Junior anglers will learn fishing fundamentals and play games to improve fishing skills. Includes a fishing tournament. Prizes will be awarded and a hot dog lunch will be provided.
LEARN MORE:
gastateparks.org/ElijahClark or call (706) 359-3458.

A.H. STEPHENS HISTORIC PARK, CRAWFORDVILLE

DISTANCE FROM AUGUSTA: 58 miles
TO DO:
Two Fishing Lakes, boat rentals, hiking on 4 miles of trails, one ADA accessible trail, horseback riding on 12 miles of trails, camping, pedal boat rental, playground, horseshoes, volleyball, geocaching
SPECIAL EVENT:
The Great Clean Up at A. H. Stephens; 9 a.m. Sept. 29; Volunteers will clean, rake, clip and remove underbrush in areas throughout the park.
LEARN MORE:
gastateparks.org/AHStephens or call (706) 456-2602.

MAGNOLIA SPRINGS STATE PARK, MILLEN

DISTANCE FROM AUGUSTA: 46 miles
TO DO:
Natural spring and boardwalk, hiking and bicycling on 5 miles of trails, fishing with an accessible dock, boating, canoe and fishing boat rentals, swimming pool, geocaching, playgrounds, Camp Lawton Civil War excavation, camping
LEARN MORE:
gastateparks.org/MagnoliaSprings or call (478) 982-1660.

RICHARD B. RUSSELL STATE PARK, ELBERTON

DISTANCE FROM AUGUSTA: 80 miles
TO DO:
Arrowhead Pointe Golf Course, 26,650-acre lake with swimming, beaches, fishing, boating, boat rental, waterskiing, rowing, canoe and pedal boat rental, disc golf, beach volleyball, geocaching, hiking and biking on 6 miles of trails
LEARN MORE:
gastateparks.org/RichardBRussell or call (706) 213-2045.

VOLUNTEER

Volunteer work will be held at more than 60 Georgia sites, and a handful in South Carolina as well. Find a work site at publiclandsday.org.

LEARN MORE
Find a full list of participating locations in the free parking and free admission day at georgiastateparks.org.


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