Paddle and Jam on the Yellow River

Yellow River Jam 2015

The stage is set for a new music festival on Oct. 3, 2015. Yellow River Jam fills the senses with a unique combination of outdoor adventuring on the Yellow River, live musical performances, football fans and local treats.

Georgia Conservancy kicks off the festivities with a 7-mile paddle down a mellow stretch of the Yellow River. Guides and locals point out wildlife and historic sites along this slow, sandy-bottom section of the river that makes a laid-back trip for families and new paddlers. Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the scenic stops on the way. Music fills the air as paddlers approach Porterdale’s Yellow River Park. The park is a picturesque place to enjoy the live bands, local foods and brews.

Paddling the Yellow River in Porterdale, Georgia

Paddling the Yellow River in Porterdale, Georgia

Floating to Yellow River Jam in a canoe or kayak isn’t the only way to get there. Paddle, bike, or drive to Yellow River Park and be greeted with the sounds of music from the riverside stage. Bring your blankets and jam the day away with a variety of local bands including Sweet Harmony, Tedo Stone, and others.

Bring the whole family and enjoy the friendly atmosphere of historic Porterdale. Don’t worry about missing the Georgia-Alabama game! Gather with fans at the Company Store Deli and watch on the big screen, while the kids take on a round of disc golf in the park. The festival also includes a diverse selection of craft beers, as well as an assortment of restaurants and vendors to serve up delicious local fare for hungry paddlers and music lovers.

Register with Georgia Conservancy to participate in the Yellow River Paddle portion of the festival:

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.

Must-Ride Mountain Bike Trails in West Georgia

I met up with mountain bike trail designer Ethan Quehl to check out the latest addition to Allatoona Creek Mountain Bike Park, a fun quarter-mile downhill called Mo Flow. This expert-rated ride is jam-packed with jumps, rollers and berms. While it is rated expert, Ethan is quick to point out that Mo Flow is designed for everyone. Advanced riders take advantage of Mo Flow’s features to get some air and hone riding skills. But, cruising Mo Flow nice and easy is just as much fun for an intermediate biker.

Ethan Quehl on the Mo Flow mountain bike trail. Photo by Candy Cook

Ethan Quehl on the Mo Flow mountain bike trail. Photo by Candy Cook

Mo Flow, and the rest of the Allatoona Creek trails are maintained by West Georgia SORBA (Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association), a volunteer organization that hosts trail work parties, special events, and trains bike patrols for trail emergencies. Upcoming events include time trials at Mt. Tabor Park (September 27), Allatoona Creek Mountain Bike Park (October 25), and Clinton Nature Preserve (November 15). Trail work volunteers meet Saturdays and earn perks for their commitment to maintaining the trails.

Get involved in this great community and check out some of the following mountain bike trails in West Georgia.

Rusty Bucket + Mason’s Bridge Connector – Allatoona Creek (Beginner): This 1.5-mile trail is the perfect place for families to discover mountain biking fun. Last time I rode Rusty Bucket, I spotted a preschooler on a balance bike! With virtually no elevation change and toned down trail features, this easy ride helps new bikers develop the basic skills of mountain biking.

Turtleback – Allatoona Creek (Intermediate): This is four miles of fast-flowing trail loaded with short climbs and great drops. The trail makes great use of the terrain spreading out the elevation change without many technical obstacles. Turtleback makes a great step up from beginner.

Mt. Tabor Park (Beginner to intermediate): The stacked loop trail system includes shorter beginner loops as well as more advanced longer trails. Pine Pong takes beginners on a mostly level ride through the pines, while Rocks of Doom tests bikers with 1.7 miles of rock garden that leads into the park’s most challenging trail, Booger.

Skills to pay bills – Clinton Nature Preserve (Expert): A favorite among local experts, this short and sweet track challenges bikers at every turn with a log ride and rocky terrain. Riding downhill offers a 109-foot descent, which becomes one of the most difficult climbs at Clinton in the other direction.

Voodoo – Allatoona Creek (Expert): A demanding three miles of minimally maintained trail with a primitive feel, Voodoo twists and turns offering advanced log and rock features, creek crossing, and fast flow segments that challenge skilled riders. Voodoo is at the top of the 2-mile Mumbo Jumbo loop.

Whippersnapper – Allatoona Creek (Expert): Controversy surrounds this short track… is it long enough to count as a trail? Either way, it’s a local favorite with unique technical features that pack a punch and make it very different from other trails.

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.

Full Moon Parties, Paddles & Hikes for the Lunar Eclipse

There is no reason to limit outdoor adventuring to the day. Georgia’s most enchanting evenings glow with the silvery light of the moon shining through the pines. September’s harvest moon dazzles hikers and paddlers with a total lunar eclipse on the 27th.

full moon

Photo by Candy Cook

Saturday, Sept. 26

Tallulah Gorge State Park
Paddle along the shimmering waters of Tallulah Lake, guided by the light of a full moon. Space is limited for this ranger-led paddle. Register in advance! $15/706-754-7981

Panola Mountain State Park
Watch the sunset over Atlanta from one of Georgia’s most fascinating places, Panola Mountain. This magical 1.5-mile hike ends with s’mores around a campfire. Register in advance, as space is limited on this special guided hike. $10/770-389-7801

Sweetwater Creek State Park
Choose a tandem kayak or a canoe for this relaxing paddle. This night paddle is limited to swimmers over 18 years old, making it a perfect date night. Limited space for this event requires advance registration. $25/770-732-5871

Sunday, Sept. 27

Tallulah Gorge State Park
Bring a flashlight and a sense of wonder along on this moderately strenuous one-mile hike for beautiful views from the suspension bridge crossing the gorge. Call in advance. $5/706-754-7981

Sweetwater Creek State Park
ECLIPSE VIEWING: Go to the bait shop area of Sweetwater Creek State Park to view the rare total eclipse of the harvest moon over Sparks Reservoir. Special hours for the event keep this park area open until 11 p.m. 770-732-5871

PADDLE: Sweetwater’s second enchanting paddle under the harvest moon includes viewing the total lunar eclipse from kayak or canoe on Sparks Reservoir. Limited to swimmers 18 and over. Register in advance. $25/770-732-5871

Hard Labor Creek State Park
Paddle Lake Rutledge to watch the total lunar eclipse over the water. Eclipse begins near 8 p.m. and peaks at about 10 p.m. Space is limited for this rare event. Please register. $20/706-557-3001

Fort Yargo State Park
Join a ranger for a paddle to enjoy the beautiful night sky and witness the total lunar eclipse. Limited space requires advance registration for this special event. $20/770-867-3489

Fort Mountain State Park
Go to the dam at Fort Mountain Lake to watch as the Earth’s shadow casts over the moon in a total lunar eclipse. This rare event combines September’s harvest moon with the reddish tint of an eclipse to produce a spectacular sight that’s known as a “blood moon.” Call for further details and reserve a spot. $5/706-422-1932

Tellus Science Museum
Visit on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 27 for the final total eclipse of the 2014-2015 lunar eclipse tetrad (a group of four consecutive total lunar eclipses). General admission.

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.

Fall Fun on the Atlanta BeltLine

Outdoor fun is found in the city this fall! The Atlanta BeltLine hosts everything from free fitness classes to art installations. Here are a few to enjoy as the cool crisp autumn air moves into Georgia.

Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade

Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade. Photo courtesy of the Atlanta BeltLine.

Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade – September 12
Art on the Atlanta BeltLine opens each year with a magical Lantern Parade along the Eastside Trail. Five fun bands add to the sounds of celebration as the parade-goers walk the trail with glowing colored lights. This free event coincides with the festivities of Old Fourth Ward Fall Fest. Attend lantern making workshops on Sept 9 & 11 to get ready!

Adults & Kids Learn to Ride a Bike + Basic Mountain Biking – September 12
Biking is an excellent way to enjoy our beloved BeltLine, and REI wants to make sure you can do it! Patient instructors combine group and personal coaching as new cyclists build basic skills such as balancing, braking, and maneuvering bikes. Basic mountain biking techniques will be taught in another exciting class. Adults (12 and older) can borrow a bike and helmet on the scene! After mastering the bicycle, join one of the BeltLine bike tours happening throughout October. Register for all events.

Play Day on the Atlanta BeltLine – September 20
Meet friends and discover outdoor games at this fun-filled day of play on the BeltLine. Local coaches and organizations come together at Washington Park to offer free family activities, arts, and fitness education. A variety of fun for all fitness levels encourage everyone to get out and play!

Atlanta BeltLine Yoga

Atlanta BeltLine Yoga. Photo courtesy of the Atlanta BeltLine.

Yoga, Trail Yoga, Yoga for Families – Throughout September
Bring your yoga practice outdoors with professional yoga instructors. A variety of evening yoga classes offer great ways for beginners, families, and advanced yogis to enhance their practice and outdoor experience. Yoga For Families encourages parents and kids to strengthen bonds, while Trail Yoga builds flexibility and endurance by including a hike. Register in advance for Yoga For Families.

Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum Walking Tour with Trees Atlanta – Throughout September and October
Join Trees Atlanta for a walking tour to explore the dynamic nature of the Eastside Trail. Focusing on interesting facts and plant-based history, this guided walking tour gives participants a renewed appreciation for natural spaces in the city.

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.

Labor Day Outdoors!

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.

Labor Day Paddle at SweetwaterThe 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
Labor Day on the Silver Comet TrailHead 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.

Labor Day Camping at Stone MountainMake 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.

Labor Day Hiking at Tallulah GorgeJoin 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

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.