Six Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day Outdoors

Celebrate mom with Mother Nature this Mother’s Day weekend!

Panola Mountain State Park

Panola Mountain State Park

Panola Mountain Hike, Saturday, May 7

This naturalist-led hike ascends to the protected summit of Panola Mountain. Hikers enjoy scenic views along one of the most amazing trails in the Atlanta area. The monadnock shares many of the same features as Arabia and Stone Mountain, with conservation efforts that have preserved thick, colorful blankets of lichen and moss.

New Manchester Mill Ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park.

New Manchester Mill Ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park.

Sweetwater Creek Kayaking & Candlelight Hike, Saturday, May 7

Kick off Mother’s Day weekend with a morning paddle exploring Sweetwater Creek State Park by kayak. Kayaking the reservoir is exciting and easy for beginners. The park offers single and tandem kayaks. As evening falls, experience the magic of nature along a half-mile out-and-back hike to the mill.

Richard B. Russell State Park

Richard B. Russell State Park

Hidden Gem History at Richard Russell State Park, Saturday, May 7

Moms meet at the disc golf parking area at Richard B. Russell State Park for a fun, naturalist-led hike through living history of the park’s past homesteads. This hike is part of Georgia State Parks’ Hidden Gems series.

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park. Photo by Candy Cook.

Cloudland Canyon’s Sunset Point Hike, Saturday, May 7

One of Cloudland Canyon‘s best kept secrets, a short walk leads hikers to Sunset Point for gorgeous views of Lookout Valley as the sky puts on a colorful twilight show. Moms should meet at the West Rim Access Parking Lot to experience this hidden gem.

High Falls State Park

High Falls State Park. Photo by Candy Cook

High Falls Paws on the Falls, Sunday, May 8

A special surprise awaits each pup who comes out to hike the High Falls State Park Trail. This dog-friendly hike follows a relatively easy trail for a tail-wagging good time with Mom’s Best Friend. Share your pictures from your hike on social media using #exploregeorgiapup!

Chattahoochee Nature Center.

Chattahoochee Nature Center. Photo by Candy Cook.

Chattahoochee Nature Center, Sunday, May 8

Pack a picnic and bring mom to the Chattahoochee Nature Center for free admission on May 8 (only moms get in free). Enjoy a short film about our treasured Chattahoochee River, a Wildlife Walk, animal encounters, and register by May 5 for the Mother’s Day Canoe Paddle!

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

Georgia State Parks Birthday Bash Geocache Game

Georgia State Parks Geocaching Gopher

Georgia State Parks Geocaching Gopher

Celebrate the 85th anniversary of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites with a fun Birthday Bash Geocache game! The treasure hunting game encourages people to get outside and explore some of Georgia’s most beautiful destinations. Players use handheld GPS devices to search Georgia’s parks for 12 hidden caches placed by the Georgia Geo-Campers.

Each geocache contains trinkets to trade and a special stamp for the gameboard. The challenge is simple, and players receive a trackable, commemorative geo-coin at the end of their adventure.

1. Mark gameboards with the stamp found in each geocache.

2. Find at least 8 of the Birthday Bash geocaches.

3. Spend the night in a participating park or attend a Georgia Geo-Campers event.

4. Mail in the completed gameboard to receive the geo-coin prize.

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Chattachoochee Bend State Park

The Birthday Bash Geocache game takes players on an unforgettable tour of Georgia featuring waterfalls, historic landmarks, scenic views and a variety of recreational activities from the mountains to the coast. Participating parks include Cloudland Canyon, Red Top Mountain, High Falls, Fort McAllister, and many more.

In addition to the 12 Birthday Bash Geocaches, Georgia State Parks host over 60 other geocaches as part of the Parks and History Trail GeoTours. Grab GeoTour Passports at any of the participating parks and begin the quest to find them all. Players receive custom Georgia State Parks geocoins after finding 15, 30, and 40 caches.

Geocaching in Crooked River State Park

Geocaching in Crooked River State Park

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

From Atlanta Airport to a Waterfall in Less Than 30 Minutes

Creek through Cochran Mill Park in Chattahoochee Hills. Photo by Candy Cook.

Creek through Cochran Mill Park in Chattahoochee Hills. Photo by Candy Cook.

Cochran Mill Park is a great escape to nature just 20 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The park boasts a waterfall and an impressive trail system for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding in Chattahoochee Hills. Nearly 15 miles of natural surface trails wind through the peaceful forest with varying terrain and skill level. The park also features a playground and picnic shelters nearby Cochran Mill Nature Center. Trail maps are located at an information kiosk near the entrance. The trails are all multi-use unless marked otherwise on the trail map.

Trails to Henry Mill Falls

Henry Mill Falls. Photo courtesy Cochran Mill Park.

Henry Mill Falls. Photo courtesy Cochran Mill Park.

Yellow – The yellow-blazed trail offers a fantastic outdoor experience for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders beginning with a stream crossing and a fun, twisty singletrack that transitions to a fast, flowing ride for bikers. This moderate trail leads to a view of Henry Mill Falls before looping back on itself.

Red – The more difficult red-blazed trail hugs the banks of the creek for more than a mile and a half before reaching a beautiful view of Henry Mill Falls. Visitors make the return trip by looping back through the hilly forest for a total distance of nearly 4 miles. This trail has a separate entrance for horses.

Cochran Mill Falls & Nature Center Trails

Biking through Cochran Mill Park. Photo by Candy Cook.

Biking through Cochran Mill Park. Photo by Candy Cook.

For a relatively easy and quick refresh, hit the Cochran Mill Falls & Loops. These trails offer several creek crossings, a view of the falls, and continues through the wildlife habitat of Cochran Mill Nature Center. The Nature Center is not affiliated with the park, however it’s worth checking out while visiting. It is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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

Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures

Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures weekend, April 29-30, 2016, celebrates outdoor life and trout fishing among the scenic landscape of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The festival showcases outdoor recreation with opportunities for skilled and beginner trout fisherman, adventure seekers, and outdoor enthusiasts to learn more about the outdoor experience in Fannin County and North Georgia.

Ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway with gorgeous views of the Toccoa River during Trout Fest.

Ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway with gorgeous views of the Toccoa River during Trout Fest.

Opening on the evening of April 29, Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures begins with a special Trout Unlimited fundraising edition of the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Winding along the beautiful Toccoa River, passengers enjoy an exclusive evening of complimentary adult beverages, gorgeous views from vintage rail cars, fantastic food and a silent auction. Space is limited, so book now!

Find out where to go mountain biking in Blue Ridge during Trout Fest.

Find out where to go mountain biking in Blue Ridge during Trout Fest.

On Saturday, the festival moves to Downtown City Park in the Blue Ridge Historic District. Live music performances entertain, and local outfitters present insider information on trout fishing and outdoor fun in the North Georgia mountains. This is the perfect event to discover new destinations for hiking, kayaking, and cycling with local clubs and outfitters.

Learn the secrets of fly fishing during Trout Fest in Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Learn the secrets of fly fishing during Trout Fest in Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Atlanta Fly-Fishing School and Trout Unlimited offer free fly-fishing lessons, fly-tying and casting workshops. Learn about local lodging options, and book your next fishing trip with expert guides in the Trout Capital of Georgia while kids enjoy fun, outdoor-centered activities in the Kids Corner.

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

Four Must-See Outdoor Destinations in Conyers

Stroll through Conyers' Garden of Trees at the Georgia International Horse Park Arboretum.

Stroll through Conyers’ Garden of Trees at the Georgia International Horse Park Arboretum.

Georgia International Horse Park Arboretum

A positively relaxing stroll through Conyers‘ Garden of Trees is a can’t-miss opportunity to connect with nature. Five acres of the Georgia International Horse Park is set aside for paths marked with tree identification signage, memorial plaques and plenty of woodsy seating for enjoying birdsongs.

Watch wildlife in the wetlands at Big Haynes Creek Nature Center in Conyers.

Watch wildlife in the wetlands at Big Haynes Creek Nature Center in Conyers.

Big Haynes Creek Nature Center

An impressive preserve within the Georgia International Horse Park with more than 170 acres dedicated to conservation of native plants and wildlife, this nature center is an outdoor experience appealing to nature-lovers of all ages. The beautifully crafted, interactive learning stations are located along easy, natural-surface trails that wind through the woods and lead visitors to a wildlife viewing platform overlooking the wetlands.

Follow a military timeline and reflect at dramatic memorials at the Walk of Heroes in Conyers.

Follow a military timeline and reflect at dramatic memorials at the Walk of Heroes in Conyers.

Walk of Heroes in Black Shoals Park at Randy Poynter Lake

Located in a peaceful park on the reservoir, a self-guided tour leads visitors along a historic military timeline honoring veterans with dramatic memorials, a botanical garden, and much more in the works. With picnic areas, a playground, and fishing pier nearby, it is a quiet place to reflect and connect.

Tour the Monastic Heritage Center and follow the PATH from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers.

Tour the Monastic Heritage Center and follow the PATH from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers.

Prayer Walk at Monastery of the Holy Spirit

The community of trappist monks marks the trailhead for the paved PATH trail that connects to Panola Mountain State Park and Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. In addition to touring the Monastic Heritage Center and an impressive collection of Bonsai, take a quiet walk near the Abbey Church to a peaceful picnic spot near the lake.

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