These Georgia Mountain Bike Trails Are Suitable For All Skill Levels

Mountain biking makes me feel like a kid again! I love the feeling of freedom that I get splashing through creeks and racing downhill. My whole family loves mountain biking and we vary in skills. These three mountain biking destinations cater to all skill levels. They offer something fun for everyone.

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Blankets Creek – Blankets Creek offers 15 miles of mountain biking trails near Atlanta. The seven trails feature a variety of terrain, creek crossings, boardwalks, and downhill speed. A training area gives riders a chance to practice before enjoying an easy pedal winding along Blankets Creek or a fast-flowing ride with technical elements.

Allatoona Creek – Nearly 20 miles of trail, ranging from beginner to expert, make this park perfect for bridging the gap between beginner and intermediate mountain biking. Follow up the one-mile beginners trail by advancing to slight elevation changes and more rock features on Turtleback Loop. Advanced riders pick up the speed on Mason’s Bridge and take on the challenge of the expert-only Whipper Snapper Trail.

DCIM100GOPROFive Points Recreation Area  – This diverse trail network gives beginners a trail to get comfortable with mountain biking and adrenaline-pumping expert trails that twist through the forest. It’s a great place to plan a mountain biking getaway, with camping nearby, at Cloudland Canyon State Park.

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Guide to Camping on the Georgia Coast

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Camping Cumberland Island National Seashore is one of our favorite outdoor adventures. For a couple glorious days and nights, the island becomes our personal playground. Our Cumberland Island days are filled with playful escapades in the crashing waves, hiking under the canopy of live oaks and watching the wild horses roam. We’ve been the only couple on the beach for brilliant sunrises, romantic sunsets and nights full of twinkling stars.

A Cumberland Island camping trip is a treasured experience for outdoor enthusiasts. But, the camping adventures, along Georgia’s coast, don’t begin or end there. Georgia’s thirteen barrier islands, with hundreds of miles of shoreline, offer amazing camping experiences unlike anywhere else.

Jekyll Island Campground

A popular getaway for families, Jekyll Island is home to some of Georgia’s most popular beaches. The Jekyll Island Campground offers 208 campsites near Driftwood Beach. Campsites range from primitive tent sites to full-service RV hookups including electricity, cable tv and wi-fi. Jekyll’s coastal greenway is a network of bicycle trails that make it easy to get around the island! Click here to see a video of the Jekyll Island trails.

Sapelo Island – Cabretta Campground

Gather your group, of 15-25 campers, for an unforgettable adventure camping at Sapelo’s Cabretta Island Campground. Shaded by live oaks, this pioneer campground is short walk from the beach.

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Tybee Island – River’s End Campground 

Nicknamed, “Savannah’s Beach,” Tybee Island offers a great option for campers who want to be close to the beach and downtown Savannah. River’s End Campground has a hundred campsites that offer everything from primitive tent camping to full-service hookups for RVs.

Little Tybee Island Camping 

The only way to get to this uninhabited land is by boat, or kayak, ensuring a special camping experience to explore the undisturbed nature preserve!

Cumberland Island National Seashore – Campgrounds & Backcountry

In addition to, “Sea Camp,” and “Stafford Campground,” which offer restrooms and showers, there are several backcountry sites. Hiking 5-10 miles will land backpacking campers incredible seclusion with opportunities for exploring different ecosystems and possible sightings of dolphins and manatees. Read more about camping Cumberland Island as a family..

Ossabaw Island Camping 

Come explore unspoiled maritime forest, tidal wetlands and beaches while learning something new about Georgia’s coast. Keep an eye out for scheduled overnight camping events or propose your own group experience to visit Ossabaw’s natural wonders.

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Become a Park Paddler at Sweetwater Creek State Park

CandyCook_SweetwaterPaddler2titleGet off the beaten path and onto the water trails of Georgia State Parks! The Park Paddlers Club offers visitors 24 miles of scenic water trails, at six diverse waterways. Plus, you’ll earn a commemorative t-shirt.

Nestled in the forest of Sweetwater Creek State Park, is a serene water trail just a short drive from Atlanta.The gentle water of George Sparks Reservoir is where I first learned to paddle a kayak. This is our first time rowing as Park Paddlers. The club encourages paddlers to follow the perimeter of the reservoir on a 3-mile water trail.  We take two tandem kayaks to ensure both children have an adult by their side. I enjoy paddling as a bonding experience with my kids. We glide along the reservoir bank, noticing the first signs of spring.

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A visit to the bait shop allows paddlers to pick their paddle and lifejacket. Choose between kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboards. Ask about the Park Paddlers Club to pick up your membership card. You’ll need it to receive your reward for paddling at all six parks.

Sweetwater Creek State Park also schedules ranger-led paddles. These group events help uneasy paddlers build confidence in a supportive setting.

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

Atlanta’s Most Amazing Hike

By Candy Cook

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During the month of March, Monadnock Madness takes over. Hikers earn free souvenirs for participating in naturalist-led hikes, field photography, mountaintop picnics and other events. You’ll hike about six miles, to the tops of three Atlanta mountains: Stone Mountain, Arabia Mountain, and Panola Mountain.

Monadnock Madness is a thoughtfully-crafted annual event that combines one of Georgia’s most popular trails with one of the most pristine. This hike tells a story that will enrich your view of our relationship with planet Earth. It’s truly an unforgettable experience and, in my opinion, it’s Atlanta’s most amazing hike.

Learn more & Register for one of the Triple Hike Challenges to experience all three trails the same day, or pick and choose from events scheduled throughout the month. However you decide do it, Monadnock Madness is a hike you don’t want to miss!

The journey begins hiking two miles on the Stone Mountain Walk Up Trail. Of the three mountains, this trail includes the most obstacles like boulders and exposed roots. It’s also where hikers will experience the most challenging elevation change of the three monadnocks.

The second leg, of Monadnock Madness, takes hikers on an easier one-mile hike on Arabia Mountain, the oldest of the three. This more relaxed trail has the least elevation change or obstacles.

Finally, hikers are treated to the pristine beauty of hiking a protected trail to the top of Panola Mountain. The longest leg of the hike, at three miles, winds through the forest as it climbs the hidden mountain. This summit offers a unique look at the monadnock environment that will surprise you!

Don’t miss out on this amazing annual event!

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

8 Ways to Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count

By Candy Cook

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I’m always looking for fun ways to get outdoors, with my kids, and learn more about nature. The Great Backyard Bird Count gets us excited about spending time outside and learning about Georgia’s birds. It’s an annual event that we’ve been doing for years. One thing we’ve learned is that the diversity of Georgia’s landscape attracts birds to the mountains, swamps, coastline and forests offering an exceptional birdwatching experience all across the state.

The Great Backyard Bird Count runs from February 13 – 16, this year. It’s a fun citizen-science project launched by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and The National Audubon Society. Birdwatchers, of all ages, provide real-time information that helps scientists learn more about our wild bird populations including migration routes and diversity. Many parks and nature centers are jumping in to help novice birders identify species and give experts a chance to share their knowledge. Learn more about Georgia’s feathered friends with crafts, activities and expert bird watching guides at these eight great bird count events.

FDR State Park
Friday, February 13
8am – 11am
Novice and expert birders, bring your binoculars and meet at the park office to receive a bird count checklist. Pack a picnic to enjoy after the count.

 

Dunwoody Nature Center
Friday, February 13 9:30am & 11am
Monday, February 16 10am & 12pm
In addition to 22 acres and miles of trails for participants to use in their search for birds, Dunwoody Nature Center  offers free classes to help birdwatchers correctly identify and observe birds in the wild. Register here.

 

Birdsong Nature Center
Friday, February 13 8:30am – 12pm
Saturday, February 14 8:30am- 12pm
Birdsong Nature Center in Thomasville has guided birdwatching tours. Plan to meet in the parking lot at 8am to participate.

 

Satilla River Waterfront Park on the Greenway

Saturday, February 14, 9am
Woodbine Women’s Club & Coastal Georgia Audubon Society are hosting a bird count at Satilla River Waterfront Park on the Greenway in Woodbine  with fun activities and games, afterward at 10:30am. Bring your binoculars and meet at the Riverwalk Gazebo on 2nd street.

 

Blue Heron Nature Preserve
Saturday, February 14 8:30am
Join Atlanta Audubon Society at Blue Heron Nature Preserve for guided hike bird counts and more surprises.

 

Panola Mountain State Park
Saturday, February 14 8:30am
Atlanta Audubon Society will also be counting woodland and grassland bird species along the newest trail at Panola Mountain State Park. Meet at the visitors center.

 

Smith-Gilbert Gardens
Saturday, February 14 10am – noon
Come count birds with an expert to help with identification! Make a bird feeder and go on a birdhouse scavenger hunt while you explore the gardens.

 

Gwinnett Environmental Heritage Center
Saturday, February 14 11am – 3pm
Sunday, February 15 11am-3pm
Monday, February 16 11am-3pm
Learn about birds with crafts and activities, followed by bird count hikes throughout the day, at Gwinnett Environmental Education Center. Bird watching and identification classes are also available each day at 1:00 & 2:00pm.

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.