Tumbling Waters Trail in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Jonathan Hoek, Gilmer Chamber of Commerce
8 Secret Trails and Outdoor Treasures
Set out to hike one of Georgia's many trails or explore a historic downtown with these ideas to get you outdoors.
Georgia weather is so mild that pretty much any time is a great time to get outside and explore. We've scoured the state for some of the best places to spend some time al fresco, whether hiking one of Georgia's many trails or exploring a historic downtown. Here are eight fabulous ideas to get you outdoors.
Bartram Forest, Milledgeville
Just south of the antebellum town of Milledgeville is Bartram Forest, a 1,343-acre wildlife area with a forest, ponds and wetlands visible along three looping trails. The best way to see the forest is on bicycle. There is an 11-mile single-track loop through the woods. If you don’t have a bike, rent one from locally owned Oconee Outfitters.
Big Creek Greenway, Alpharetta
This approximately eight-mile concrete trail along Big Creek Greenway in Alpharetta is perfect for learning to ride a bike. Alpharetta offers a free bike-share program that allows visitors to check out a bike for up to three hours. Take a break from riding the Greenway for an easy hike on the soft mulch trail that winds around wetlands, where you’ll likely spot blue heron, deer, ducks and Canadian geese.
Hunt the Lost Quail, Thomasville
Love the idea of going on a quail hunt, but guns just aren’t your thing? Then head to downtown Thomasville for a quail hunt like no other. Throughout this historic downtown area are 12 bronze quail statues hidden in plain sight. As a bonus, find the friends of the covey, Ollie the Otter and Liberty the Labrador. Begin your hunt at the Visitors Center at 144 E. Jackson Street.
Jarrard Gap Trail, near Suches
A favorite "secret" place for locals in North Georgia is Lake Winfield Scott. Near the lake is a short, lesser-known hiking trail called Jarrard Gap Trail. It starts at the Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area-CNF and leads to Jarrard Gap. The two-mile trail crosses babbling streams and has access to the Appalachian Trail.
Rock Hawk Trail, Eatonton
Walk the same trails used by ancient Native Americans. There is a nice beginner trail that leads to a museum and tower that overlooks the Rock Hawk effigy, an earthwork built between 1,000 and 3,000 years ago. While in the area, stop at Farmview Market for a picnic lunch or to grab a bite before heading home. The Farmview Café is the only farm-to-table quick service restaurant in Georgia, and they also sell fresh local produce.
Skidaway Island State Park, Savannah
People may not think of coastal Georgia as a great place to hike, but Skidaway Island State Park has six miles of beautiful, mostly flat trails through a variety of low country landscapes. The Sandpiper Trail loop is the most popular. Expect to see fiddler crabs, an old liquor still and even Confederate earthworks on this one-mile ADA-accessible loop.
Sope Creek Mill Ruins, Marietta
Some of our favorite hikes are destination hikes, where there is something at the end to discover. In Marietta, there is a wonderful three-mile loop trail to an old mill along Sope Creek. The Sope Creek trails are part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, so once you are done walking through the ruins, take a route that links into the Cochran Shoals trails for even more adventure.
Tumbling Waters, Ellijay
Spend a relaxing day either on Carters Lake or by hiking around it. Tumbling Waters is a fun walk that begins at the entrance to the Ridgeway Park Day Use Area. Expect to see a towering bridge and interesting forestry along the way. Find more amazing places to hang your hammock in Ellijay.