Thousands of hikers crowd Georgia trails as surrounding states close parks

With families stuck inside during the week, many were hoping to have a quiet day in nature at Cloudland Canyon State Park.

During the day, Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers were forced to close off trails and ask hikers to disperse after thousands of people showed up to the park and were not properly social distancing.

"We're trying to keep some normalcy still and not let this keep us in, you have one life to live," said hiker Damir Gojkovic.

Several families and hikers told FOX 5 they didn't think the trails would be as crowded as they were this weekend. Many said they took hand sanitizer along with them to be as safe as possible, but in the end, most people agreed getting out of their house was worth it.

"It was just nice to escape the city and escape the quarantine mayhem, and it's a beautiful day out, so why not," said hiker Joe O'Geen.

But with beautiful weather, came an immense crowd.

"The campground's full, so I think everyone's out there on the trails," said camper Wendy Flory, who was on the trails with her whole family to celebrate her birthday.

People could be seen walking mere inches apart from each other on the trails, touching handrails, and sitting near each other. Park rangers said they can only do so much to try and keep groups at less than 10 people.

"When it gets bigger than that, we just have to disperse when we can and keep people moving along the trails, so people can still be outside, but we can enjoy responsibly," said park manager, Brad Gibson, with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

DNR along with Governor Brian Kemp announced Sunday they will enforce stricter social distancing at parks and lakes.

Park goers agree, "enjoying responsibly" is tough to do. To add to the issue, Gibson said neighboring states have closed many of their parks, so more people are flocking to Georgia's parks.

Rangers ask everyone coming to the parks to work harder to maintain a safe social distance, take proper sanitizing measures and continue to keep the parks clean, so they can remain open.