Three Georgia Swimming Holes

In search of relief from summer’s high temperatures and humid air, we searched out some places to get wet and cool down!

Tallulah River Campground

Tallulah River Campground

 

Tallulah River Campground – This secluded spot in Chattahoochee National Forest offers peaceful wading in the Tallulah River. The crystal clear water is refreshingly cold on hot summer days. The river is mostly very shallow, in this area making it a perfect worry-free wading spot to explore. Bring water shoes or sandals because it’s very rocky. Anyone can play for the day, even if camping for the night isn’t in the cards. The gravel road runs right alongside the river giving easy access to the water from several parking areas.

Edge of the World – A short hike leads to this excellent swimming hole on Amicalola Creek. Visitors will find shallow places to wade, as well as deeper waters. The scenery is gorgeous and I recommend packing a picnic for the day. Edge of the World is located in Dawson Forest WMA which requires a parking permit.

Edge of the World

Edge of the World

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Far from North Georgia’s mountains, this one is just west of Atlanta. An easy one-mile hike takes visitors on a walk along Sweetwater Creek before reaching historic ruins of an old mill. Play and wade in the shallow rocky waters for a relaxing cool down on a hot summer day.

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.

Family Camping at Chattahoochee Bend State Park

Chattahoochee Bend Observation Tower

Chattahoochee Bend Observation Tower

When this outdoor family celebrates a birthday, we invite our friends to a campout. Our most recent family camping party took place at Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Newnan. The park’s camping options meet a wide variety of adventure needs, including separate campgrounds for RVs and tent campers. I also love the seclusion of the paddle-in primitive sites on the Chattahoochee River and the hike-in platform sites. But, for this party, we chose to make camp at a shady tent site in Campground 2.

Chattahoochee River

Chattahoochee River

The park offers canoe rentals and several miles of hiking trails that meander along the river. We spotted many deer, turtles, frogs, and lizards while exploring the trails. Our hike of the Riverside Trail led us through a chorus of frogs to an observation tower overlooking the river. But, the one-mile Flat Rock Trail is the must-see hike of Chattahoochee Bend. Winding through the pines, this easy trail lets hikers explore the rock outcrops and colorful wildflowers of the region.

Camping at Chattahoochee Bend State Park

Tent Camping at Chattahoochee Bend State Park

Chattahoochee Bend is prepared for families with unique playgrounds, picnic areas, and a collection of fun things for guests to borrow. When checking in at the visitor center, make sure you check out some of these items to liven up your camp, for free.

Board and card games – We snagged the Apples to Apples card game for a roaring good time around the campfire. Other selections include UNO, playing cards, Candyland, and more.

Binoculars – Chattahoochee Bend is a birdwatcher’s paradise! Get started by borrowing a pair of binoculars and talking to the friendly staff about which birds are currently flying around the park.

Telescope – The darker skies, away from city lights, make Chattahoochee Bend the perfect place to set up a telescope. You can even borrow one for your campout!

Fishing gear – The park offers fishing rods and tackle boxes to help families give fishing a chance. My boys borrowed the gear and headed to the riverbank to catch catfish. Guests can also rent a kayak or canoe to get out on the water.

DVDs – A newer addition to the park, RVers can choose from some popular movies for evening entertainment.

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.

Free Fun Things to Do at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge

Piedmont National Wildlife RefugeLooking for some summer fun, we headed to Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. Piedmont NWR is best known for hunting and fishing opportunities, but there’s more to explore during the summer season.

Piedmont National Wildlife RefugeVisitor Center
Piedmont NWR’s Visitor Center takes guests on a short tour of the local environment introducing them to the native plants and animals in an interactive way. Learning about the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, Deer, Turkey and plants that grow here is a spectacular way to start exploring the Refuge. Free trail maps and fishing permits, as well as information on hunting can be found at the Visitor Center.

 

HikingPiedmont National Wildlife Refuge
There are about five miles of hiking trails open year-round, at Piedmont NWR. The trails are relatively easy and short leading hikers to view wildlife in their natural habitat and to destinations such as Allison Lake. Bring your binoculars and cameras along on these hikes as we were able to track and spot a couple deer, as well as sighting many lizard and bird species. The Creek and Pine Trails beginning at the Visitor Center, combine to form a 2 mile loop that also connects to the 3 mile Allison Lake trail. Other trails to hike include a 1-mile nature walk along the Wildlife Drive, and the 2.9 mile Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Trail, which loops by a colony site for the endangered bird.

Wildlife Drive
Little Rock Wildlife Drive gives visitors a look at the history of Piedmont NWR, explores various habitats and explains management programs using a self-guided tour brochure that visitors can pick up at the Visitor Center. Driving along this gentle gravel road is a peaceful way to see some of the interesting highlights of the pine forest and includes a one-mile foot path for nature discovery.

Piedmont National Wildlife RefugeFishing
Fishing at Piedmont NWR is allowed from April 1st to September 30th during daylight hours. Anglers reel in a variety of fish including catfish, sunfish, bream, crappie, and bass at Piedmont’s many designated fishing ponds and creeks. There’s also a children-only fishing pond for kids age 15 or younger to experience the fun of sport fishing. Be sure to pick up a free fishing permit from the visitor center before heading out.

Make Piedmont NWR part of a getaway weekend by camping nearby at High Falls or Indian Springs State Parks.
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.

Fantastic Fort Mountain

Fort Mountain ViewA scenic drive through Georgia’s Historic High Country leads us to a little slice of heaven on Fort Mountain. This state park, hidden in the hills of Chatsworth, is quickly becoming one of my favorite getaways. In addition to the incredible views from overlooks, Fort Mountain State Park boasts one of the most challenging Muddy Spokes mountain biking trails and the 8-mile Gahuti Trail connecting secluded backcountry campsites.CandyCook_ftMtnGahudiTrail

The hiking trails of Fort Mountain range from easy to strenuous. For really amazing views, take a stroll down the easy, paved Cool Springs Trail or hike to an overlook deck on a combination of the West Overlook-Stone Tower Trails. More experienced hikers will appreciate backpacking on the more difficult Gahuti Trail. Gahuti is a beautiful, yet strenuous hike often used by hikers preparing for the Appalachian Trail.

Mountain bikers of all ages and experience levels enjoy taking on 27 miles of thrill riding at the park. Multi-use Lake Loop Trail offers an easy warm-up shared with hikers, while the Gold Mine and Cool Springs Loops cater to more advanced riders looking for a fun roller coaster ride through the forest. Finally, one of the last Muddy Spokes trails a mountain biker completes, the East/West Loop offers a wild and rocky ride for the experts. CandyCook_FtMountainSwim

A Fort Mountain escape isn’t complete without a refreshing dip in the cool mountain lake, a round of mini golf, and perfecting s’mores as the moonlight shines through those magnificent Georgia pines. Pack up the tent and run away to Fort Mountain this weekend!

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.

5 Ways to Celebrate Great Outdoors Month

Great Outdoors Month

Sweetwater Creek State Park

June is Great Outdoors Month and Georgia is celebrating with fun activities all over the state. It’s the best time to explore Georgia’s natural beauty, learn new outdoor skills, and roast marshmallows by the campfire.

Georgia’s Free Fishing Day
National Boating & Fishing Week begins June 6th and continues through the week. Georgia goes fishing all month long with special events at State Parks and Public Fishing Areas. Visit the Go Fish Education Center for some fishing tips, and head out on June 6 & 13 to give it a try. These are Georgia’s “Free Fishing Days,” when fishing licenses aren’t required.

Stone Mountain Camp

Stone Mountain Camp

National Trails Day
June 6th marks National Trails Day! Georgia celebrates our state’s beautiful trail systems with group hikes, guided nature walks, canoe trips, and volunteer trail cleanups. Discover a new trail on this list of events.

Get Outdoors Day
Visit Smithgall Woods State Park, in Helen, for a family-friendly Get Outdoors Day. Visitors will try outdoor sports, meet live animals, and learn about Georgia’s environment in the gorgeous Northeast Georgia Mountains.

Father’s Day
Beat the heat and take Dad on an exciting adventure in Columbus, Georgia! There’s no better way to thrill Dad than riding the rapids or ziplining with Whitewater Express. After the excitement, enjoy a relaxing stroll on the Chattahoochee Riverwalk.

Whitewater Kayaker in Columbus

Whitewater Kayaker in Columbus

Great American Backyard Campout
This super fun annual campout invites families to give camping a chance. Experienced campers can find their perfect backcountry campsite at Chattahoochee Bend or Providence Canyon. First Time Campers can reserve spots at Red Top Mountain and Skidaway Island State Parks. These two parks are part of the First Time Camper program that lends a tent and camping gear. Stone Mountain Park also offers a first-time camping experience, “Ready, Set, Camp,” offering gear and help to set up camp.

 

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.