Labor Day Weekend is coming up quick. Make your plans for the last blast of summer! Here are some ways to enjoy the outdoors September 5-7.
Paddling The beautiful blazing colors of fall are almost upon us. Get ready to experience the seasonal change in a brand new way by learning to kayak! Imagine taking in the breathtaking scene of trees topped with brilliant golds and reds reflected along the banks of lakes and rivers. Sweetwater Creek State Park offers the perfect chance to prepare with Introduction to Kayaking Classes this Labor Day Weekend. Women, join qualified instructors on Sunday, September 6 or join the co-ed class on Monday, September 7. Reservations are required: 770-732-5871
Biking & Blading Head to Rockmart to ride the Silver Comet Trail with Georgia’s Rails Into Trails Society. This annual Labor Day event brings cyclists, runners and rollerbladers together to celebrate the multi-use paved trail. Several options for participating include 13 miles to Brushy Mountain Tunnel, 27 miles to Cedartown, and a 62-mile ride to the Georgia-Alabama state line. Register online or on-site.
Camping Make camp near Stone Mountain Park‘s tranquil lake and enjoy the last blast of summer this Labor Day Weekend! Spend the day exploring the 5-mile Cherokee Trail, enjoying the view from the top, and playing with the kids on the Crossroads attractions. When night falls, relax on Memorial Lawn for the special Labor Day Lasershow Spectacular.
Hiking Join the Canyon Climbers Club at Tallulah Gorge to enjoy the last swim of summer near Bridal Veil Falls. This is a strenuous trek that takes hikers from the overlooks deep into the gorge. Along the way, hikers encounter a suspension bridge, river crossings and new hiking friends. The 3.5-mile hike takes most of the day, so pack some snacks and wear sturdy shoes! Space is limited, so register in advance for one of the hikes happening Labor Day Weekend. Sept 5, 6, and 7. 706-754-7981
Last year, I had the pleasure of joining women from all over the country for Georgia’s annual “Becoming an Outdoorswoman” (BOW) program. This exceptional program brings new outdoor experiences to women of all different ages and fitness levels. Participants spend three days attending hands-on workshops led by experts in outdoor skills. You’ll learn more about fishing, backpacking, firearm safety, shooting, scuba diving, wilderness survival and countless other options. This fun weekend serves as a great getaway that prepares women for year-round adventure! Read more about my experience, here.
Women, come to BOW if you want to enjoy nature, learn new skills and meet friends in an outdoor environment. BOW is dedicated to empowering women in the wilderness. Becoming an Outdoorswoman workshops taught me wildlife tracking, fly fishing and wilderness survival techniques in a comfortable setting with women like me. I met single mothers, widows, teachers and grandmothers who came to gain knowledge and experience that furthers their enjoyment of the great outdoors. The all-inclusive program offers shared rooms in the beautiful lodge at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, with three delicious meals a day and time for socializing. This year’s BOW is on the calendar for November 6-8, 2015 and registration is now open. Hurry, spaces fill quickly! Register online.
A favorite destination among many Georgia hikers and mountain bikers, Aska Adventure Trail Area offers 17 miles of interconnected trails winding through Chattahoochee National Forest. This Blue Ridge trail system boasts a range of difficulty levels from easy-moderate to very strenuous along trails that vary in distance from one to six miles.
Hitting Aska Adventure Trails in August is a cool summertime treat beneath the shade of mature hardwoods. Right around the seasonal corner, fall paints this landscape with colorful leaves that open up beautiful mountain vistas to enjoy during winter and early spring. A good starting point is riding the hills of the easy-intermediate Long Branch Loop. Riding the trail counter-clockwise gives riders many heart-pumping uphill climbs with a few fun downhills, while riding clockwise offers more gradual uphills and lots of fun downhill riding. A creek crossing marks the lowest point of the trail. Long Branch Loop isn’t challenging as far as technical features, making it fun for riders who are stepping up from easier trails. Other trails in the system ascend to over 3,000 ft, some offering creek crossings and a portion of trail on the shores of Lake Blue Ridge.
Biking Long Branch Loop
Trails to hike and ride in Aska Adventure Trail Area:
Stanley Gap Trail is a single track trail that clocks in at 5.5 miles of moderate intensity.
Flat Creek Loop offers another 5.7 miles of moderate intensity mountain biking.
Long Branch Loop is 2 miles of easy-moderate climbs and sweet descents for a fun, quick ride. Note: The elevation changes going counter-clockwise may be considered more difficult than going clockwise on the trail.
Lower Green Mountain is an intermediate 1.5 miles that connects with the more strenuous Upper Green Mountain Trail. Note: A portion of the Upper Green Mountain Trail is closed.
Several connector trails make easy transition to other trails in the system.
There are four parking areas to access trailheads at Aska Adventure Trail Area. These parking areas are located at Deep Gap, Stanley Gap, Forest Road 711, and Shady Falls. Driving directions to all four parking areas, as well as a list of the trails, are available on the Blue Ridge Mountains website.
The view from AH Stephens State Park | Photo courtesy of Arthur Stiles, Georgia Nature Photographer Association
Stargazers search out Georgia’s darkest skies to view one of the year’s best and brightest meteor showers. This year’s Perseid meteor shower peaks August 12-14 as 50 to 100 meteors an hour streak across the night sky. With little to no moonlight ruining the dazzling display of shooting stars, 2015 is a great year to view this shower. Viewers don’t need telescopes or binoculars to watch the show, but a dark sky makes it even better. So, where are the best places in Georgia to view the meteor shower?
Georgia State Parks and local astronomy clubs are teaming up to make the most of the Perseids this year. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and snacks to Hard Labor Creek, Cloudland Canyon and Richard B Russell State Parks for shooting star parties.
Hard Labor Creek State Park Shooting Star Party August 13-14, 10 pm- 3 am The beach is open late for this special event at Hard Labor Creek. Bring a blanket and lay out for a night of stargazing, rather than sun bathing. The park also hosts “Paddling under the Perseids.” Paddlers hop in a kayak or canoe for a view from the lake. Pre-registration required: 706-557-3001
Hard Labor Creek State Park | Photo courtesy of Kim Hatcher, Georgia State Parks
Cloudland Canyon State Park Star Party 2015 August 14, 9 – 11 pm The perfect party for amateur astronomers and meteor shower viewers, Cloudland Canyon invites everyone to take a look at star clusters, galaxies and planets through BSA member’s telescopes! No word on where to meet, so calling ahead is highly recommended! 706-657-4050
Richard B Russell State Park Annual Perseid Viewing Party Aug 14 9 – 11 pm Join fellow stargazers and amateur astronomers to count meteors at this park northeast of Atlanta. Bring your own chairs and nonalcoholic refreshments to the disc golf course! Call ahead for directions and more information: 706-213-2045
Make camp at a quiet little campground tucked away on Lake Rabun for quick and easy access to Rabun Beach, State Parks and several enjoyable waterfalls. Set in Georgia’s beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest, Rabun Beach Campground offers primitive or full service sites with bathrooms, water, and electricity. Campsites are roomy, and well-shaded by the towering trees giving plenty of privacy. This campground is open seasonally from May into early November, with campsites claimed on a first come first serve basis.
Panther and Angel Falls
A unique feature of this escape to nature is its proximity to several tumbling waterfalls. Campers discover a trailhead near the back of the campground that leads to two of these, Angel and Panther Falls. The relatively easy hike makes a great nature walk with Panther Falls appearing around the half-mile mark. Nearing one-mile, hikers find Angel Falls before retracing their steps back to camp.
Easily one of Georgia’s most enchanting waterfalls, Minnehaha Falls is just around the corner from the campground. The trail quickly climbs and winds through the trees reaching the falls at almost a half mile. It’s a short, fun trail revealing a magical moment as the cascading falls come into view.