Step Outside - Georgia WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 http://stepoutside.org/ Step Outside - Georgia 144 144 http://stepoutside.org/ https://cdn-step.americantowns.com/img/stepoutside_logo.gif Wed, 29 May 2024 10:09:16 -0500 5 Energizing Hikes in Georgia Mother Nature is the queen of bringing you back to your senses. Georgia boasts some truly immaculate natural scenery—among the very best in the country. To absorb the beauty of the state’s natural wonders, lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails. Given the state’s location in the foothills of the mountains, there is plenty of opportunity in Georgia for a more heart-pumping trek. For a step up in a difficulty, give these five energizing hiking trails a go! 

As one of the state’s most popular hiking destinations, Tallulah Gorge is a spectacle to behold. The hiking trail here is full of challenges to keep your heart rate hopping, with the two-mile loop packing in all the best sights from the area. If you need to take a break, there are plenty of scenic overlooks that give you beautiful views from every angle. Part of the trail consists of metal steps that keep you on your toes for a wondrous workout while you enjoy the scenery. The view of the falls and gorge alone make this hike worthwhile.

Situated near the Georgia/Tennessee border, Lookout Mountain is a premium destination for hikers, especially those who like a bit of a challenge. The Lula Lake Land Trust trail system is a favorite among area hikers, leading the way to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state. Starting at the first parking lot once you enter the trust, hop on the middle trail that eventually ends at the Bluff Trail, which will lead directly to the shorter High Adventure and Lula Lake trails for a good view of the falls. The trails also feature plenty of spectacular natural views of the area, along with its share of challenges that make it the perfect trail system for those looking for an enjoyable pick-me-up.

As part of the famed Appalachian Trail, this two-mile down-and-back route takes you through the Chattahoochee National Forest to show you some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful sights in the state. Along the way, you’ll see the Long Creek Falls, one of the few waterfalls in the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail. It’s certainly one of the most scenic stretches of hiking trails, and one that shouldn’t be missed if you love the great outdoors.  

At just two miles-long, Hemlock Falls may seem more like a walk in the woods than a hike… until you begin your journey. This amazing trail leads you to beautiful waterfalls surrounded by rich natural greenery in a rocky, boulder-filled terrain. The creek continues along the trail encouraging you to make it to the end (just a mile to the falls), at which point you’ll head back the way you came. The trail features slight elevation gains throughout, making it a good choice for those looking for a health boost while they enjoy the scenery.

As part of the Appalachian Trail, this vigorous yet stunning hike offers plenty of views to make the climb worthwhile. It’s also one of the most popular trails in the area, and once you hike it yourself you’ll see why. The five-mile up-and-back trail takes you to the summit of Tray Mountain, where you’ll find beautiful vistas as far as the eye can see, along with challenging yet pleasurable elevation gains and stunning rhododendron.

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5 Exhilarating Jet Skiing Spots in Georgia Georgia has built a solid watersports community thanks to its abundance of lakes, rivers, and a shining coastline. A major body of water is never more than a couple hour’s drive away, with plenty to entertain you once you get there. Jet skis are a popular choice among thrill seekers, and it’s easy to see why: it’s an activity that can suit riders of all skill levels while helping you blast through the sweltering Georgia heat. Don your life jacket and head to one of these five top destinations for jet skiers! 

Lake Lanier offers a multitude of entry points spanning dozens of towns. You can rent a jet ski at one of several rental companies or marinas, such as Lanier Boat Charter in Flowery Branch, and begin your journey on one the state’s biggest lakes. While you’re on the water, visit Three Sister’s Island, the largest island in the lake and an ideal spot to unwind and enjoy a little solitude. There are over a dozen uninhabited islands on the lake, giving you plenty of places to park and take in the scenery.

Spanning two states, the Georgia side of Lake Hartwell is an ideal spot for jet skiers who prefer less big open water and more intimate settings. You can head south toward the Savannah River to the Hartwell Dam. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, cross the Georgia/South Carolina border and make your way to Ghost Island, where you’ll find a Revolution-era cemetery on an island at the merging of Coneross Creek and Seneca River. This lake has multiple channels and inlets, so make sure you bring a map along.

Rent a waverunner at Park Marina for half a day or longer and let the adventure begin. Lake Allatoona offers some of the best scenery in the state, along with plenty of long straightaways to fuel your need for speed. Along the way, you’ll find some sandy beaches that make for an enjoyable break from wave jumping, along with dozens of small coves to explore or practice your jet skiing skills.

Straddling the Georgia/North Carolina border, Lake Chatuge is a perfect blend of peaceful surroundings and epic adventure. You can rent a jet ski at Young Harris Watersports or use one of the many public boat ramps if you have your own jet ski. There are usually other boaters out and about in case you run into trouble, which makes this a safe bet for those who are just learning.

If you’re looking for some expert instruction, Tybee Jet Ski & Watersports offers jet ski rentals that come complete with professional instruction to show you how to use your watercraft. You’re likely to see some of the dolphins and other wildlife that make Tybee Island special. You set the speed—no guided tour or group pace to slow you down.

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5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Georgia Georgia’s diverse natural beauty is as good as, if not better than, any state in the nation. Between the incredible rivers, lakes, forests, fields, and mountains, a nature lover could spend their entire lives exploring the Peach State and never get bored. If you don’t have your entire life to spend but still want to get the most scenery out of a Georgian hike, then the following five trails will surely do you right.

Brasstown Bald is the highest peak in the entire state of Georgia, with an elevation of 4,700 feet above sea level. The Brasstown Bald hike is around 11 miles-long and is most difficult, with tough terrain and steep rises. For those that make it to the top, however, the scenic views of up to four surrounding states, is absolutely worth it. 

The Conasauga River Trail is perfect for hikers that enjoy splashing through rivers and creeks. The trail cuts through the Cohutta Wilderness, the biggest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River. The trail is around 13 miles and includes 18 river crossings, ranging in difficulty. We recommend this hike for experienced hikers, and to be taken with at least a week between rainfalls.

The Blood Mountain Loop is a six-mile loop up to the Appalachian Trail summit. The highest point of the Georgian Appalachian Trail, Blood Mountain is one of the more popular trails, although quieter stretches are available for those that prefer. You’ll be gaining elevation for much of the hike as you ascend, so make sure you’re comfortable climbing over haphazard terrain. 

The Marble Mine Trail through the James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park is an easy, dog-friendly jaunt through an abandoned mine entrance. Stop by the waterfall and enjoy the sunset over water. The trip is just under two miles round trip, making it one of the more carefree walks on our list. Bring your dog along with you for a leisurely stroll. 

The Cloudland Canyon West Rim Loop Trail through Cloudland Canyon State Park is definitely not for beginners, but it isn’t the most difficult trail by any means. This five-mile round-trip loop is dog-friendly and offers “outstanding views from its deep-chiseled, wide-span canyon rim and plummeting waterfalls within its depths,” according to the website Atlanta Trails. You’ll see the most beautiful parts of the park as you hike through the canyon and over to the other side. 

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5 Cool Spots for ATV Off-Roading in Georgia From far-reaching national forests to high-end private parks, the Georgia off-roading scene has a lot to be excited about. Whether you prefer roughing it out on the natural trails or enjoy the more controlled environment of a private park, Georgia has something for every level of ATV rider. Below you’ll find five of the coolest spots throughout the state that scream, “Start your engines!”

If you’re into off-roading, then you must travel to Durhamtown Resort. Established in 1991, Durhamtown has grown into the largest off-road resort destination in the country. Push the accelerator as you ride over 6,000 acres next to Jeeps, dirt bikes, 4x4 vehicles, and more. Trails vary in experience level from beginner to expert. Make your trip a vacation by renting onsite lodging, staying at an RV site, or camping. You can’t go wrong at the Durhamtown Resort. 

The Whissenhunt OHV Trails are about six miles north of Dahlonega, Georgia, in Lumpkin County and offer 11.2 miles of ATV heaven. The trails are open sunrise to sunset and require a daily fee or annual pass. Trails are designated from beginner to difficult, and riders are asked to stay squarely on the trails so as not to disturb the surrounding nature. 

Highland Park Resort in Cedartown, Georgia, boasts over 90 miles of trails throughout the Georgian mountains. The trails are rated from beginner to expert with five levels, along with a PeeWee track. With 45 unique one-way trails, riders have the luxury of choice. Never have the same Highland adventure twice. Make sure to take a look at the trail map to see which trails are open to ATVs and which are restricted to motorbikes. For longer stays, consider one of the cabins. 

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Come on down to Waycross, Georgia, for Fat Daddy’s ATV Park. Situated on 500 acres in the Satilla River region, Fat Daddy offers miles of trails right by the river. Primitive camping sites are available for anyone that wishes to stay the weekend. Fat Daddy is open weekends, Friday-Sunday, and charges differing rates depending on how many days you plan to stay. Riders under 15 years of age must wear a helmet at all times. Make sure to check the website ahead of time for updated rules and regulations.

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Chattahoochee National Forest is one of the most beautiful and expansive forests in the state, with a combined total area of over 850,000 acres spanning multiple counties. Tons of trails are sprinkled throughout the forest, but take note: riders can only go on trails that are specifically designated. Depending on which trail you choose in the forest, you may be required to pay a daily fee. Check up on all of the rules and regulations on their website before stopping by, and take a look at the forest map while you’re there.  

*Note: Age restrictions, special licenses, and other requirements for off highway vehicles vary from state to state. Before heading out on your OHV, please consult your local regulations.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-cool-spots-for-atv-off-roading-in-georgia http://stepoutside.org/article/5-cool-spots-for-atv-off-roading-in-georgia Mon, 08 Apr 2024 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails in Georgia! Fido-friendly getaways are the ultimate way to explore the Peach State. From well-worn paths in the heart of Atlanta to secluded woodland trails in Ellijay, Georgia offers some of the best dog friendly hiking trails. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll with your pup or an adventure in nature, these spots have your paws covered. Read on to discover the 10 best dog friendly hiking trails in Georgia.

Escape the hustle and bustle of Atlanta at one of its most abundant outdoor destinations. Sweetwater Creek State Park provides visitors with a peaceful, picturesque oasis. With additional trails winding between fields and forest, this park is sure to provide you and your pup with plenty of sights and smells.

For those looking for a truly wild experience with their pup, nothing beats a trip to the Raven Cliffs Trailhead. This Wilderness area offers stream water crossings and picturesque views of the Chattahoochee National Forest. An out of this world experience for man’s best friend is in store!

Destined to become one of your pup’s favorite attractions, Mount Yonah Trailhead provides easy access to the top of the mountain. Here, visitors can enjoy a mesmerizing panoramic view of the surrounding area. There’s nothing quite like reaching the summit with your pup by your side!

Take your dog on an escape to this hidden gem in the heart of Atlanta. This 30-acre oasis provides hikers, walkers and runners with an array of trails that traverse beautiful woodlands. With plenty of reward-filled paths and trails, your pup is sure to find the journey to be unforgettable.

If you and your pup are looking to explore a bit of history, look no further than Dauset Trails. Not only does it offer a self-guided tour but also a variety of animal exhibits including mammals and birds of prey. The trails are easily accessible making it a great spot for families with four-legged family members.

For those who want a bit of variety in their dog friendly hiking adventures, Cochran Shoals Trail is the perfect spot. Stroll along the Chattahoochee River, traverse scenic woodlands and marshes, and explore the unique nature of this park.

If you and your pup are history buffs, you’ve come to the right place! Ben Burton Park is the site of a former hydroelectric plant that is full of stories and stories of the past. A series of trails winds through the park, allowing visitors to explore its beauty and learn the history behind it. Keep them leashed for the best experience.

This 85-acre park is a great spot for those looking for a bit of solitude. With 3.3 miles of trails, it provides plenty of opportunity for exploration. And with such a variety of terrain, this spot is a great place to introduce your pup to the wonders of the outdoors. Have a day of relaxation and with your pup, these leisurely strolls are next in self care for man and man’s best friend.

As the largest area of its kind in the Peach State, Arabia Mountain Trailhead offers a wealth of outdoor experiences for visitors and their pets. Step onto the trails to discover historic sites, natural wonders and you and your dog can roam a landscape over 400 million years in the making.

This paw-sitively unique park is the perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon. A nice-sized pond with a fountain provides a great spot for your pup to take a dip, and there are plenty of trails for those who just want to stretch their legs and run wild.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-dog-friendly-hiking-trails-in-georgia http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-dog-friendly-hiking-trails-in-georgia Mon, 08 Apr 2024 00:00:00 -0500
5 Great Hiking Trails in Georgia Georgia has no shortage of natural beauty. The Peach State is home to the Blue Ridge Mountains, which cover the northern part of the state. The Piedmont extends from the mountains through the center of the state. Whether you’re in the north, south, east or west, Georgia’s hiking trails provide wonderful opportunities to get out into nature and escape. Below you’ll find five of the greatest hiking trails throughout Georgia! 

The Woody Gap Trailhead is located in the beautiful Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest right along Suches, Georgia. The site is known for its panoramic, awe-inspiring views of the North Georgia Mountains, as well as access to the Appalachian Trail. The Woody Gap Trailhead offers several route options, including a path to Jarrad Gap and Neel’s Gap, among others, along the Appalachian Trail. Terrain and distance vary depending on the destination, but even the entrance is an incredible sightseeing spot, and worth the trip alone.

Various trails cut through the Tallulah Gorge State Park, including the Gorge Floor Trail, Stoneplace Trail, North and South Rim Trails, Hurricane Falls Loop Trail, High Bluff Trail, and Shortline Trail, each with their own terrain, elevation, distance, and difficulty. The Gorge Floor Trail, for example, is open to hikers with a permit, and is comprised solely of rocks and boulders. The High Bluff Trail, four miles of compacted red dirt, is a more moderate path, whereas the Shortline Trail is three miles of paved, easy hiking.

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The Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park is Georgia’s largest state park, covering over 9,000 acres and offering more than 40 trail miles. Named for the 32nd President of the United States, the F.D. Roosevelt State Park includes a life-size sculpture of the president at Dowdell’s Knob, one of FDR’s favorite locations. Throughout the park, one might choose to hike the Dowdell’s Knob Trail, which is just over a mile each way, the Mountain Creek Trail, which is just over three miles, or take any number of routes through the Pine Mountain Trail, comprised of over 27 miles total. Less experienced hikers might try the Mountain Creek Nature Trail, covering just over three miles and cutting through plant habitats.

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For an immaculate view of some beautiful falls, trek the two-mile Hemlock Falls Trail at Lake Burton. The grand finale of this North Georgia hike is the stunning Hemlock Falls that tumble over into glistening, crystal clear waters. This trail is relatively easy because of its length but watch out for tree roots and some rocky areas. Keep the little ones close by. 

Another falls trail, Anna Ruby Falls offers up breathtaking views. To access this area, there is a small fee of $3 per person, but kids under 16 are free. To get to the falls, all you have to do is walk a half-mile paved trail that leads guests to viewing decks. This is the perfect hike for little kids because it brings them closer to nature without being too strenuous.

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5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in Georgia There’s something special about venturing off the road and into the midst of Mother Nature for a good run. Sure, terrain is often unpredictable, with slight ups and downs and a myriad of surprise obstacles, but that’s what makes trail running so alluring. Because of its natural, unpaved components you never know what to expect, which helps keep you focused and on your feet during your workout. As an added benefit, you get an energizing run that’s as good for your mind as it is for your body. If you never experienced the joys of trail running or are looking for a few new places to blaze your path, these five awesome trail running spots in Georgia ensure you never have a boring run again. 

This 4.9-mile loop trail takes your running game to new heights—literally. The trail offers scenic views throughout, including a treetop boardwalk well above the forest floor. The trail winds its way down into the canyon at a steep 40-degree slope, along with 1,200 stairs to make sure you get a good workout. Though this trail is rated as moderate, it does provide additional challenges for trail runners which might put it on the more difficult side of the moderate spectrum. The waterfalls here are a welcome reward and can help motivate you to finish your run.

Short and sweet, this just-over-two-mile loop trail is the perfect balance of challenge and distance. This trail takes you right past beautiful Amicalola Falls. However, the weekends here can become quite crowded because of people clamoring for a view of the falls, so your best bet for an uninterrupted run is early in the mornings or on a weekday. Once you get a good view of the falls from the bottom, head to the steps (over 600!) to get another view from the top before heading back down the trail to finish your workout.

Perfect for beginner trail runners and seasoned ones alike, this four-mile loop leads the way along a creek. The first part of trail itself is relatively tame, with slight elevation changes and a few terrain challenges to give your run a little variation. The second half features some steeper parts so make sure you bank your energy early. If you want to add a little more distance, consider combining the red and white trails. 

This 6.9-mile trail (roundtrip) is rated as more challenging. Panther Creek Falls’ out-and-back trail features a beautiful waterfall on its namesake creek, along with several terrain and nature challenges that will take a bit of finessing to keep your footing. It’s best to visit this trail during a dry spell, as storms often down trees here and can make the trail somewhat dangerous for runners. There are a few stretches here that offers massive elevation gains and other technicalities, so exercise caution.

Set in view of Georgia’s iconic Stone Mountain, this five-mile trail travels around the base of the mountain, giving you beautiful views from all sides. It’s challenging enough for seasoned trail runners, but not too strenuous for beginners. Often touted as one of Atlanta’s best kept secrets, this beautiful trail gives you plenty of natural scenery you never would have expected so close to the city. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-trail-running-spots-in-georgia http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-trail-running-spots-in-georgia Thu, 04 Apr 2024 00:00:00 -0500
ATV Off-Roading Adventure at Houston Valley OHV Trails ATV off-roading isn’t just a fun activity, it’s a southern tradition. Throughout the Peach State you’ll find plenty of vehicle-friendly trails and parks that can give you a ride of a lifetime. However, no off-roading day in Georgia is complete without soaking up a little local flavor before you hit the homeward trail. Make the most of your next off-roading adventure in Georgia with this perfectly planned trip. 

Start your journey with a morning stop at Town Square Cafe. This cozy little eatery has some of the best breakfast in town, including all your favorites like biscuits, pancakes, and omelets. Guests love the quick, friendly service here, and the prices are reasonable, too.

Before you start your off-roading adventure, stretch your legs at Prater’s Mill, one of Dalton’s most beloved historical sites. The structure itself dates to 1855, when it was a functioning mill for cornmeal. Situated on the waterfront, the structure has been fully restored to delight future generations.

Unless there’s been significant rainfall, head to Houston Valley OHV Trails, a system offering more than 25 miles of safe yet challenging trails. Unlike typical ATV parks, this site is dedicated strictly to riding. There are variety of loops that merge with longer trails so you can plot your course and make your journey as long—or short—as you want. If you want to make an entire weekend of off-roading, there are three primitive campsites here that are free to use.

Once you’ve had your fill of hilly trail riding, head back to Dalton to enjoy a delicious barbecue dinner. They also feature other sure-to-please favorites, such as hot dogs, chicken, and Brunswick stew. This locals favorite is a bit of a drive from the trail park, but once you sink your teeth into their smoky-flavored meats you’ll agree it was well worth it. 

Just a few minutes’ drive from the rib shack lies your evening’s refuge. Right off the interstate, you can expect clean, comfy rooms that make the perfect place to unwind after a long day of off-roading. There’s plenty of free parking for your oversized vehicle, as well as free Wi-Fi and a pool to help you melt away the day’s stresses.  

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5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Georgia In Georgia, it’s not uncommon to see several different species of birds on a daily basis. The Peach State is brimming with hundreds of bird species at various times of the year. Birdwatching is more than simply spotting birds as they fly overhead, it takes the right timing, knowledge, patience, and planning if you want to catch sight of something spectacular. For many travelers and locals in Georgia, birdwatching is the real sport of champions. Head to one of these five best birdwatching spots and test your skills! 

With nearly 350 species of birds coming to nest and roost, your chances of sighting one of Georgia’s most diverse bird populations is pretty high here. Woody Pond is home to the endangered wood stork. The refuge itself contains a variety of salt marshes, wetlands, freshwater ponds, hardwood forests and fields that continually attract birds to the area. Bonus points: their website offers an eBird tracker that can notify you about recent bird sightings.

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Home to nearly 200 species of birds, this 35,000-acre wildlife refuge offers plenty of viewing opportunities for serious birdwatchers. Inside the refuge, you’ll find a network of several hiking trails, along with the six-mile Wildlife Drive and 45 miles of gravel roadways that take you through the area for prime viewing. Most commonly seen here are varieties of warblers, woodpeckers, wood ducks, herons, hawks, chickadees, flycatchers, and wild turkey, to name a few. Neotropical songbirds are in abundance in April and May, while winter waterfowl are most likely seen during the cooler months.

The Owl’s Roost Tower gives visitors a 360-degree view of the swamp and surrounding areas, perfect for bird spotting. Wading birds are no strangers to the area, and you’ll likely find plenty of sandhill cranes, egrets, herons, and the endangered wood stork. Kingfishers, woodpeckers, and bobwhites are also heard in abundance here.

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Situated on the outskirts of Atlanta, Sweetwater Creek is a hidden gem in this major metro. The reservoir in the park is a prime fishing spot, which also makes it attractive to ducks. The park’s trail system takes visitors up rocky bluffs above the rapids and through fields and forests teeming with birdsongs. Over 300 species have been spotted here, including bald eagles, ruby throated hummingbirds, wood storks, and egrets. Migratory birds rely on this park as a resting and refueling spot, so prime viewing is in full swing in the spring and fall months. 

Located on Cockspur Island, this park is home to much more than a national monument. During your visit, you have a strong chance of sighting one or more of its bird species, including bald eagles, wood stork, or terns. Pelicans and other wading birds and waterfowl are regular visitors here, as well as raptors, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and finches. The park plays an important role to painted buntings, whose neotropical homes have largely been lost. If you catch sight of this beautiful gem, consider it a treat.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-best-birdwatching-hikes-in-georgia http://stepoutside.org/article/5-best-birdwatching-hikes-in-georgia Mon, 01 Apr 2024 00:00:00 -0500
5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Georgia Kayaking in Georgia is one of the most enjoyable pastimes available during the warmer months. The water is so attuned for kayaking that the Ocoee Whitewater Center was the canoe slalom during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. If you aren’t quite Olympic-level just yet, consider taking a safety course before you hit the waters. Once you’re ready, check out these five excellent places for beginners to start kayaking in Georgia. 

Reach Balus Creek by way of Lake Lanier Park in Oakwood, Georgia. Balus Creek is a winding waterway stretching a total of 4.5 miles and provides the perfect place for beginners to get their kayak bearings. The enclosed creek has clear, clean water, without any of the tides or currents other waterways might have, which allows new kayakers to learn to paddle without worrying about undue hazards. Be warned: you’ll need to bring your own boat with you, but several launching points exist once you arrive.

Fort Yargo State Park is a popular destination for any number of outdoor activities. Conveniently located in Winder, Georgia, between Atlanta and Athens, the park’s main feature is the 260-acre lake. Kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, and pedal boating are all frequent activities on the water, with seasonal rentals available on-site. The water is mostly still, making for an easy location to pick up the sport. 

The Chattooga River is famous for its depiction in the movie “Deliverance,” and Southern Living Magazine calls rafting in it “The #1 Thing Every Southerner Ought to Do.” Chattooga River has several sections cordoned off based on difficulty level for kayakers. Section III is ideal for beginners or intermediate riders, particularly families with children age eight or older. Consider booking a tour with one of the many popular guide companies to truly experience the natural splendor of this unadulterated preserve.

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The Okefenokee Swamp covers over 400,000 acres in total stretching across southern Georgia and into Florida, and is the largest blackwater swamp in the country. Take part in a guided tour at the east or west entrance, or paddle through the swamp by yourself to enjoy the diverse array of wildlife and fauna, including birds, alligators, and Spanish moss. Okefenokee Adventures, on the east entrance of the swamp near Folkston, Georgia, offers guided overnight swamp paddles, and Stephen C. Foster State Park at the west entrance near Fargo provides sunset paddles. 

The Toccoa River starts as Lake Blue Ridge and has options that range the gamut from Olympic-level to beginner, but families will have the most luck kayaking in the Toccoa River section. Consider renting your kayak from any of the many rental places around the area. Start off at the Toccoa Valley Campground and enjoy the serendipity of the gentle waters, beautiful vistas, and quiet nature around you. 

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10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in Georgia From the largemouth bass of Lake Allatoona to the red snapper of the state’s coastal waters, Georgia attracts visitors from all over for its fishing opportunities. Of course, to catch your share you’ll first need to suit up with the right gear, which you’ll be able to find at these 10 best bait and tackle shops in Georgia.

If you’re heading out for a day on Lake Lanier, you’ll want to stop at Oakwood Bait & Tackle first. This full-service shop can provide all your fishing needs and point you in the right direction for a successful day of fishing. They’re the area experts, and love putting their firsthand knowledge to work for you.

Offering the best in live bait and tackle in the area, Buccaneers knows fishing like no other. They’ve always got a good selection to cater to your offshore and inshore fishing needs. Combine that with friendly hometown service and you’ll never want to go anywhere else.

Not only do they offer a huge selection of live and artificial bait, they’re also right next door to a filling station for the human appetite. You can stock up on snacks, beer, and deli items to prevent you from abandoning your fishing spot in search of food. This one-stop shop’s convenience is valuable to its customers, which keeps them coming back every time.

This drive-thru bait shop is truly one of a kind! Close to Lakes Allatoona and Carters, you can expect the best bait for the fish here. The experience alone is worth the trip.

Bait, tackle, and dry ice are what you’ll find at Angler’s Corner. You can stock your cooler with groceries while you get your gear to save you from making another trip elsewhere. They offer discounts on bulk bait purchases of $100 or more, perfect if you have a large group for your fishing trip.

This hometown bait shop is an icon of its community. Aside from their friendly service and area knowledge, you can expect a good variety of bait and other gear in one of the cleanest, most well organized bait stores you’ll ever step foot in.

You’ll come for the bait, but you won’t be able to ignore the beautiful view of the waterfront you get while shopping. This Tybee Island favorite features all the bait you need for a successful day of fishing in the area, backed up by experts who know the area well and can put you on the right path.

get some bait shrimp here 🦐

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Customers love coming to St. Simons Bait & Tackle because they know they can get quality frozen bait and gear at affordable prices. You can’t help but feel like family when you visit, as the staff makes sure to serve up a dose of southern hospitality the Peach State is known for.

In business for over 30 years, Hammond’s has built its reputation on trust, quality, and value. They’ve proven themselves to be the Lake Lanier experts when it comes to fishing and can help you get exactly what you need. They’re open every day year-round (minus Christmas Day) to offer you every possible chance to pursue your passion.

Truth be told, there isn’t much to do in Bainbridge outside of fishing. That’s why the area is lucky to have a dedicated bait and tackle shop that can cater to the fishing community here. Get your license, ice, supplies, gas, and other necessities all in a single stop.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-georgia http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-georgia Thu, 28 Mar 2024 00:00:00 -0500
8 Best Watersport Retailers in Georgia Georgia’s warm weather and seemingly endless number of lakes and rivers make it a prime destination for watersports. Wakeboards, kayaks, and jet skis often dot the waters during warmer months, offering as much thrill and adventure as you can handle. Find a new passion or continue your existing one with the help of these eight best watersport retailers in Georgia. 

Offering the biggest watersport pro shop in the state, Watersports Central is your headquarters for gear and equipment. Their high-end product lineup includes life jackets, wakeboards, skis, tubes, ropes, apparel, GoPro cameras, and more. Whether you’re a seasoned watersport enthusiast or just getting your feet wet for the first time, you’ll want to prioritize a stop here first.

Just a short distance from highly-acclaimed Lake Lanier, you can find everything you need for a day on the water. Choose from top brands like Ronix, Liquid Force, and Inland Surfer, all of which have been personally demoed by the team to ensure you’re getting quality. Each staff member shares your passion for all things water sports, and you’ll appreciate their first-hand knowledge when shopping for the right products.

Though known for their cold-weather sports equipment and apparel, you’ll be glad to know Peter Glenn also specializes in outfitting you for a day at the lake. They carry a full line of gear for wakeboarders and stand up paddleboarding, as well as tubes and skis. Kids and adults alike will find a variety of apparel and accessories, like SUP beach carts and water skiing training platforms, to complete their experience.

This surf shop is exactly what you need to get out on the water and look good in the process. They carry high quality lifestyle brands like O’Neill, Reef, Chaco, Columbia, and others, along with a great selection of stand up paddleboards. They also know the area well, and are more than willing to help you find the best local spots to enjoy your SUP.

This sporting goods store is dedicated to all things extreme sports. You can find some of the best names in wakesports and water skiing, alongside a hearty selection of paddleboards and dive equipment. Find everything you need under one roof and save a trip elsewhere. 

This place is mostly visited as a rental agency for SUPs and kayaks, but their own line of stand-up paddleboards is worth some notoriety. As a sponsor for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, you can feel good about purchasing your SUP from them while also having peace of mind you’re getting a great board. 

This boat and jet ski rental hub has an onsite wake shop where you can stock up before you head out on the water. Helmets, boards, bindings, apparel, and other gear await you. With best-in-class brands like Ronix, Slingshot, and Liquid Force, you can expect nothing but superior action while you’re out on the water.

Come check out our new boardshop!!

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As one of the best places to find a new or used boat, you can also find quality water sports equipment to fill your new ride. While you’re shopping for parts and accessories to keep your boat looking and running like new, pick up an inflatable tube or life jacket to keep the party going.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/8-best-watersport-retailers-in-georgia http://stepoutside.org/article/8-best-watersport-retailers-in-georgia Fri, 22 Mar 2024 00:00:00 -0500
5 Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots in Georgia There’s no shortage of amazing camping spots in Georgia, but the best ones are tucked far away where no RV could ever go. Simply put, you don’t need electricity and hot showers to have an amazing camping experience. Just head to these five beautiful backpack camping spots in Georgia and embrace the great outdoors in all its untouched splendor. 

Not to be mistaken with the Bartram Trail traversing Northeast Georgia/Western North Carolina, this trail features 27 miles of mostly flat, wide paths for a quiet, secluded three-day hiking experience. Bartram Trail is ideal for hikers who want a multi-day hiking trip, but without rugged climbs and elevation changes. Along the trail, you’ll find two traditional campgrounds, each requiring a reservation ahead of time. Much of the hike here borders J. Strom Thurmond Lake, giving you plenty of beautiful views to accompany you.

North Georgia is well known for its outdoor scenery and abundant waterfalls, and Jacks River Falls is certainly one to put on your must-visit list. To get to these amazing falls, you’ve got two trail options: the nine-mile Jack’s River Trail or the 4.5-mile Beech Bottom Trail. Backpackers should opt for the namesake trail, which takes you over multiple river crossings and through lush forest scenery before reaching the falls at the ninth mile. Here you can set up camp, provided you’re situated at least 300 feet from the falls. The camping guidelines are strict, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ll leave the same way you came, making for an impressive 18 miles round trip. 

Situated in the Cohutta Wilderness at Fort Mountain State Park, there’s no better place to feel in the middle of nowhere. The trail itself is short—a mere six miles round-trip. However, you’ll want to stop at one of several primitive campsites along the way to soak up as much of the gorgeous mountain views as possible. There are a few historical structures along the way, along with shimmering creeks, rocky ridgelines, and Goldmine Branch Falls. An impressive elevation gain and loss of 4,000 feet comes with this hike, so be prepared to put in some work.

Also touted as the “Waterfall Trail,” this hike gives you up to 37.5 miles of stunning waterfront views, including five waterfalls if you hike the entire trail. Starting at the Georgia/South Carolina border, you’ll eventually meet up with the Bartram Trail (North) before merging with the Foothills Trail. There are several additional trail criss-crossings, so be prepared with a good map. Along the way, you’ll find several spots to make camp, helping you break up your adventure into as many days you’d like. 

This 8.3-mile section of the Appalachian Trail is nothing short of breathtaking. Starting at Cooper Gap, hikers can make their way over Justus Mountain to Gooch Gap, an ideal spot to make the first night’s camp. The next stretch takes you to the pinnacle of Ramrock Mountain before moving into a steep, rocky descent—use caution! Aside from the shelter at Gooch Gap, there are additional campsites along the trail to let you catch your zzz’s whenever you see fit. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-backpack-camping-spots-in-georgia http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-backpack-camping-spots-in-georgia Wed, 20 Mar 2024 00:00:00 -0500
SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Unicoi State Park Georgia’s picturesque scenery and abundance of outdoor activities make it a prime vacation destination for all ages. It doesn’t cost much to enjoy a few days in the great outdoors, especially when there are a multitude of state parks that offer just about everything you could ever want on-site. Once you experience the wonders of Georgia’s beautiful wilderness, you may say good-bye to pricey resorts for good.

Tucked inside the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest lies Unicoi State Park, a scenic area just a stone’s throw from the alpine village of Helen. This park gives you the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere without sacrificing modern accommodations like Wi-Fi. The park itself is brimming with activities year-round, everything from hiking and biking trails and a lake for fishing to sports facilities and picnic shelters. There’s also an on-site restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you may never need to leave the park until your vacation is over.

If you care to venture out of the state park, head to Bodensee for authentic German cuisine. This fine dining restaurant reflects the heart and soul of Bavarian-inspired Helen. They’re serving up lunch and dinner options so you can sate your appetite just about whenever you like.

For a little more universal fare, head to Cafe International and enjoy dining with a waterfront view. This tasty eatery features fan favorites like the Reuben, French dips, and classic hamburgers. Locals and tourists alike love this place because of the homey vibe, view of the river, and good selection of international cuisine.

Reuben

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Train enthusiast or not, you can’t help but have fun at Charlemagne’s Kingdom. This scale model railroad exhibit mirrors the German countryside from the Alps to the sea. This work of art is about as unique as they come, and you’ll appreciate the fine details and craftsmanship put into this beautiful project.

Aside from its notoriety as a German-focused town, Helen is also known as a river tubing destination. During the warmer months, you can rent a tube from Cool River Tubing and cruise down the Chattahoochee (don’t worry, their bus will bring you back at the end of your trip!). They also feature a zip line, rock wall, and ropes course.

my dream is for u to be as happy as me 💫

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This little park is situated in the midst of downtown Helen and is open to the public to enjoy. Here you get the best views of the town, along with a playground, hiking trails, picnic areas, and a charming gazebo for picture perfect moments. It’s also within walking distance to shops and restaurants in Helen.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-unicoi-state-park http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-unicoi-state-park Sun, 10 Mar 2024 00:00:00 -0600
Making the Most out of Tugaloo State Park When it comes to natural beauty, Georgia’s got the best of both beach and mountains to satisfy anyone who appreciates the great outdoors. Just looking at Georgia’s state park system you’ll realize that this state is full of natural wonders just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. One of the most incredible wonders is Tugaloo State Park. With its nearly 400 acres of space, beautiful lakeside views, and plenty of opportunity for recreation, it’s among the best. Here’s how to enjoy an adventure at Tugaloo State Park. 

It doesn’t get more family friendly than Tugaloo State Park. Step inside and you’ll find a place reminiscent of decades’ past. The park offers activities for all ages, including swimming, geocaching, mini golf, grilling, camping, and sports. It’s the perfect spot for families looking to truly get away from it all while unwinding to the sounds of natures. 

There are over four miles of hiking trails throughout the park, all of which the average hiker can easily trek. The Sassafras and Muscadine trails take visitors through forests of cherry, oak, mulberry, and walnut trees. You can also expect some of the best views of sparkling Lake Hartwell.  

Given the park’s location on its woody peninsula, just about every angle offers sprawling views of beautiful Lake Hartwell. As one of the most visited lakes in the state, Lake Hartwell offers prime fishing opportunities, boating, and other watersports. The park offers boats and a dock so you can experience the lake up close.

There’s a campsite to suit just about every camper. Choose from traditional RV or tent sites, or opt for a yurt or camping cottage. Much of the park remains shaded to help keep you cool on sweltering Georgia summer days, plus nearby picnic shelters make it easy to enjoy a meal in the great outdoors.

I’m thankful for percolators ensuring there’s always coffee...& family. That’s a given.

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While you’re in the area, consider venturing beyond the park and head to Toccoa Falls, one of the tallest free-flowing waterfalls this side of the Mississippi. Entrance to the path that leads to the falls is tucked away on the Toccoa Falls College campus, and is quite popular for weddings, events, and was even featured in a made-for-TV movie.

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Views on view ⛰‼️ #travellife

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For an epic hiking experience, head to Toccoa’s beloved Currahee Mountain, 800 vertical feet of beauty. The standalone mountain is a local icon, having been an important training site for American Paratroopers in World War II and Andrew Jackson’s battle site during the Battle of Currahee. Visitors can hike to the peak for amazing views, or enjoy a day of rock climbing and rappelling. 

Thankful has a whole new meaning for me this year 😍 #blessed #home

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Just minutes from the park lies one of the area’s most hidden gems: Gumlog Bar-B-Q. This middle-of-nowhere joint is dishing out the best barbecue and catfish around, all at reasonable prices. The restaurant is only open Friday through Sunday, and the place fills up quickly. That’s how you know there’s good eatin’ waiting inside!

This large historic inn once played a crucial role in Toccoa’s economics, serving as a rest top for travelers along the newly built Unicoi Turnpike. Visitors can tour the home and grounds, thanks to careful preservation efforts that showcase original furniture and artifacts. It’s also a popular photography site for locals and travelers alike. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/making-the-most-out-of-tugaloo-state-park http://stepoutside.org/article/making-the-most-out-of-tugaloo-state-park Fri, 01 Mar 2024 00:00:00 -0600