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Nov. 18, 2019
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Take a stroll near Lake Lanier

By Jane Harrison
 
The mention of “let’s go hiking” often conjures up thoughts of stuffing a day pack and loading into the car for an hour’s drive to the mountains. However, dirt trails practically just outside the door in the counties surrounding Lake Lanier offer nearby options for trekking through the woods and experiencing the great outdoors.
 
Trails at county and city parks, a national recreation area, private non-profit science center, plus footpaths maintained by the state and Corps of Engineers on the north and south ends of the lake beckon nature lovers to get out there without having to go far.
 
On National Take a Hike Day, Nov. 17, the American Hiking Society urges folks to hit a trail and feel the benefits of hiking. The recently released master plan for Hall County Parks cites national studies that found contact with nature improves physical and emotional health by providing exercise and decreasing stress. The park department’s survey of park users found that 62 percent visit for foot travel. To accommodate a growing interest in trails, the county will consider building more natural surface trails by 2030. Look for a new trail, possibly this month, at Hall County’s Cool Springs Park.
 
In the meantime, take a hike on one of the natural surface trails ready for fall hikes in the foothills around Lake Lanier: 
 
Hall County
Cherokee Bluff, 5867 Blackjack Rd., Flowery Branch. 2.75 miles of trails, mostly forested, single track. 2.25-mi. Bear Paw/.08-mi. Bear Paw Connector/.4-mi. lake loop. www.hallcounty.org.
North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Rd., Gainesville. 2.45 miles of trails with .75-mi. flat field loop, 1.7-mi. forested path, mostly single track. www.hallcounty.org.
 
 Gainesville
Linwood Nature Preserve, 415 Linwood Dr., Gainesville. Also accessible from Springview Drive. About 2.25 miles of trails, some with lake views and lake access. Includes native plant garden. www.gainesville.org
Chicopee Woods/Elachee Nature Science Center, nature center trails, 2125 Elachee Dr., Gainesville. Also accessible from Chicopee Lake, 2100 Calvary Church Rd. About 8.43 miles of mostly interconnected forested trails, includes cross-creek bridges and course around Chicopee Lake. www.elachee.org.
Chicopee Woods Mountain Bike Trails, Elachee Drive. 21-miles of mostly single-track trails for beginner, intermediate and advanced mountain bike trails. Hikers and trail runners also use trails. www.negasorba.org
 
Forsyth County
Sawnee Mountain Nature Preserve, 2500/2505 Bettis Tribble Gap Rd., Cumming. Also accessible at 4075 Spot Rd. Indian Seats-3.5-mi. forested trail plus .7-mi. connector to overlooks on Sawnee Mountain. Another 6.5 miles of mountain side trails. https://parks.forsythco.com.
Charleston Park, 5850 Charleston Park Rd., Cumming. 6-miles of winding hiking/mountain bike trails, includes lake views. https://parks.forsythco.com.
Other Forsyth hiking trails: Chattahoochee Point, Haw Creek, Caney Creek Preserve, Eagle’s Beak, Matt Community, Old Atlanta, and Lanierland. All have soft surface trails for hiking and trail running. https://parks.forsythco.com.
 
Don Carter State Park
Located at 5000 N. Browning Bridge Rd., Gainesville. Terrapin Cove, 1-mi, Huckleberry .75 mi, 2-mi Dog Creek. Wooded walking trails, some with lake views. www.gastateparks.org.
 
Lake Lanier
Buford Dam/Laurel Ridge, Lower Overlook Park, Buford Dam Rd. Also accessible at Buford Dam Park and Lower Pool East. 1-mi. Buford Dam Trail and 3.8-mi. Laurel Ridge Trail takes hikers from dam to Chattahoochee and into woodlands around the river and lake.
 
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Bowman’s Island Trail, Lower Pool Park, Buford. Also accessible from Trout Place Road. 4.5 mi. perimeter trail with 2 inner loops, partially along Chattahoochee River. May include side trip to Buford Trout Hatchery.
 
Dawson County
 • Dawson Forest: Trails meander near Shoal Creek and Etowah River, with some waterfall views. Main trails range from 6.5-9.4 miles, with connecting routes. Trails closed several days during managed hunt sessions in Oct., Nov., Dec. For trail map, schedule and accessibility see http://www.gatrees.org.
 
Lumpkin County
Lake Zwerner (also known as Yahoola Creek Reservoir): 3.2 mile loop trail around the reservoir with lake and mountain views. Accessible from Morrison Moore Pkwy. E. https://dahlonega.gov.

Posted online 10/29/19
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