12 Oct Best Outdoor Adventures on Hospitality Highway
From urban landscapes to mountain escapes, Hospitality Highway offers outdoor activities ideal for a weekend getaway or a day trip. Below are some of the best ways to explore Georgia from hiking to tubing, and park side to mountain side, all on one highway. Pack your swimsuit, hiking boots and bicycle-adventure awaits.
Dahlonega – Mountain Adventures
Find your footing on over 22 hiking trails in the North Georgia mountains, ranging from short-distance hikes to long-distance bucket-list adventures along the Appalachian Trail. Northbound Appalachian Trail hikers often begin their adventure in Dahlonega every spring. If you prefer wheels to heels, Dahlonega’s surrounding mountain bike trail system is one of top Southeast venues. With varying loops, difficulty levels and terrain, the Jake Mountain Trail System and Bull Mountain Trail System connect to a complex system of scenic trails within the scenic Chattahoochee National Forest’s Blue Ridge Ranger District.
Bonus Tip: Dahlonega hosts the Six Gap Century and Three Gap Fifty Bike Ride, an annual mountain biking event with up to 11,200 feet of vertical climbing and thousands of participants each year.
Dawsonville – Waterfall Escapes
Amicalola State Park offers a variety of trails, with the most prominent trail leading to Georgia’s tallest waterfall. This 720-foot waterfall offers breathtaking views with multiple platforms to stop and snap a picture along the way. Other popular hiking trails at Amicalola take you through the wooded forests, up the mountainside and even to the top of the waterfall. Furthermore, the park offers various outdoor adventures ranging from archery, to zip lining from mountain peak to peak from the Amicalola State Park and Lodge. For an even more infamous adventure, the park marks the southernmost point of the Appalachian Trail.
Bonus tip: Another well-loved trail that departs from the crest of the waterfall is the Hike Inn Trail which leads you to the Len Foote Hike Inn, a backcountry inn that’s only accessible, you guessed it, via hiking in.
Cumming/Forsyth – Lakeside Retreats
Pack some sunscreen and hit the waves on Lake Lanier with a multitude of activities, both on and off the lake. Starting lakeside, cast a few lines at some of Georgia’s best fishing spots for striped, spotted and largemouth bass and stripers, or hire a professional to take you to the lakes hidden spots for that amazing catch. For a more adrenaline-filled weekend, waterski or wakeboard Lake Lanier’s calming waters and cruise over to LanierWorld waterpark. Lake Lanier has multiple marinas where you can choose your own pace with a jet ski, boat or houseboat rental. Unwind beachside at the lake’s designated swimming areas to top of your day or end it with a sunset.
Bonus Tip: A well-known area of the lake is nicknamed “Sunset Cove” in one of the Southern areas of the lake. Hundreds of boaters come out to enjoy each other’s company and traverse from boat to boat.
Alpharetta – City Trails
Alpharetta is home to award-winning parks, nature paths and nearly 15 miles of trails, most notably, the Alpharetta Big Creek Greenway. The Big Creek Greenway is an eight-mile stretch of 12-foot wide path, ideal for biking, walking, roller blading and inline skating along the creek and an adventure the whole family can partake in. If you are looking to up your biking skills, the Greenway has access to beginner and intermediate mountain bike trails. On the path you will find various birds and mammals, flora and fauna, and locals out for a stroll or sunset bike ride. Didn’t bring your own bike? Not a problem, with Alpharetta’s bike share program where guests can unlock their rental bikes via Zagster smartphone app and return to any station. For a bonus, the first three hours are free.
Bonus tip: The Big Creek Greenway is such a staple, the local Alpharetta brewery, Jekyll Brewing, even named a special brew after it.
Buckhead – Urban Greenspaces
Best recognized as a shopping and culinary destination, Buckhead has a hidden outdoor escape within its perimeter, the Blue Heron Preserve. Trade shopping bags for picnic baskets, and high rises for high flyers with the parks various bird species that call the preserve home. Choose between four different trails, the Beaver Trail, Eldson Mill Trail, Painted Turtle Trail, and Woodland Loop Trail, all of which will take you through varying landscapes along Nancy Creek. Head off the beaten path and wade the waters. This green space sanctuary is also home to various wildlife including: red fox, white-tailed deer, coyotes, otters, turtles and more.
Bonus tip: For a local experience, check out the community garden or Art Gallery, populated with natural world works from local artists, all within the preserve.
Sandy Springs – Riverside Explorations
Grab a paddle of your choice and cruise the Chattahoochee River from various take off points throughout the city. One popular spot to enjoy the river is at Morgan Falls Overlook Park, defined by its breathtaking views of the reservoir and the conveniently located High Country Paddle Shack offering seasonal rentals of a variety of vessels. Another place to get on the river is at Powers Island, where the Nantahala Outdoor Center operates an outpost. Guests can rent kayaks, paddleboards, tubes and more, and head out for a relaxing day on the water. The river is also home to spectacular fishing for all levels from shore, pier, boat or fly fishing. If you’re looking for a low-key adventure, recruit your crew and “Shoot the Hooch”, a popular pastime that involves floating down the river in a tube.
Bonus Tip: Challenge your core with a SUP yoga class offered by High Country Outfitters at Morgan Falls Overlook Park.
Roswell – Historical Excursions
Hike the Vickery Creek Trail which takes you by the old mill ruins, with roots dating back to the 1800s as the Roswell Manufacturing Company, a Civil War era artifact. Nature finds a balance between the remaining structures, with traversing vines and wooded trees, enclosing you inside the trail until you come to the creek’s waterfall. Additionally, the trails are marked with signage that makes for an interactive experience, as you learn the area’s history and explore the Old Mill Park. For a visitor’s favorite, cross the covered pedestrian bridge, and be sure to snap a photo (no filter necessary). The bridge is just a gateway to adventure, connecting the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, laden with hiking trails and river side activities.
Bonus Tip: Bring your best water shoes and wear your swimsuit to cool off in the creek, next to the waterfall.
Ready to experience your adventure? Visit http://www.hospitalityhighway.com/communities/suggested-itinerary/ for itineraries.