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Jul. 22, 2019
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See the lake from trails this winter

By Jane Harrison
 
Winter has crept over Lake Lanier, bringing a serene, quiet beauty across the waters. The wooded shoreline is bereft of leaves that hide the lake from trail-goers most of the year. With the foliage gone, hikers and mountain bikers gaze upon stretches of silvery sheen or brilliant blue that they rarely see in the warm months. What better way to see the lake this season than from a trail in the woods, where earth, sky and water sooth the mind and traversing a path exercises the body.
 
Here are a few trail trails to get out on and see the lake from a different perspective this winter:
 
  • Huckleberry Trail, Don Carter State Park. Views of Dog Creek inlet are visible almost throughout this .75 mile unpaved loop on a peninsula at the northern end of the lake. Anyone who has the chance walk it or the longer Terrapin Cove Trail, 2-miles out and back, on a winter weekday might find total solitude at the park that attracts throngs of summer beachgoers. Huckleberry starts at the boat ramp parking lot and follows an easy grade to a bench perched for a lake view and continues along the shoreline, offering a glimpse of the sandy beach through the trees, before looping back. Terrapin Cove begins at the Visitor’s Center and tours park amenities, the beach, RV campground and cottages.
  • Linwood Nature Preserve, Gainesville. This passive park just off busy Thompson Bridge Road slices through stress in diverse ecosystems on 30 acres. Two miles of easy trails travel through old growth forest, wetlands, a grassy overlook, and lakeside woods. The Cove Road Trail, actually a roughly graveled sewer line cut, is the quickest route to the lake from the preserve’s Springdale Road entrance. A bench awaits at the edge of the woods above the cove. Follow a short path down to the water’s edge to a point on the Gainesville canoe/kayak paddle trail. River birch trees, holding on to russet leaves in winter, rattle in the wind and over-wintering birds flit from tree to tree in an environment fed by the lake and a trickling creek.
  • Laurel Ridge Trail, Buford. On the south end of the lake, this 3.9 mile trail developed by the Corps of Engineers shows off the stark beauty of water gushing into the Chattahoochee River from Buford Dam and follows the river through laurel and pines. It touches three Corps parks before leading to a ridge overlooking the south end of the lake. Most hikers begin the journey at Lower Overlook Park on Buford Dam Road.
  • Charleston Park, Forsyth County. Mountain bikers and hikers on this 5.5 mile intermediate trail on a peninsula rarely catch a glimpse of the lake in summer; but with the leaves gone it’s visible from the path above. Occasional steep climbs, gullies, rocks and roots give the body a workout en route to and from the lake views a mile or more in.
  • Corps and municipal parks. Many Corps and city parks remain open year-round, offering easy paved paths to the lake. In Gainesville, a paved walkway meanders along a cove at Longwood Park where water laps at a boardwalk with a northern view of Georgia mountains. Folks who prefer a view on-the run can head to West Bank Park, in Forsyth County, Feb. 2 for a “Surf & Sun” 5K on pavement along the shore. An off-season beach party follows. Although most lake campgrounds are closed for the season, walkers still enjoy strolling campground loops. War Hill Park, in Dawsonville, and Bolding Mill Park, in Hall County, are among parks with campground loops where winter visitors can get some exercise and see expanses of the lake in peace.


Posted online 12/26/18
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