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Archive for the ‘Outdoor Recreation’ Category

Looking for beautiful fall foliage minutes from downtown? Phinizy Swamp Nature Park has great trails to explore!

From the parking lot, follow the Cattail trail to the Visitor Center where you can find maps of the trails.

Once you’ve picked your route, informative kiosks and signs give you the history of the construction of the wetlands, cells as well as flora and fauna you may encounter in the park.

We enjoyed the Beaver Dam trail that led to a bridge over Butler Creek and a boardwalk over wetlands on the Green trail.

The Butler Creek trail that starts at the opposite end of the parking area offers a beautiful wooded trail, views of the swamp from high on the bluffs and other interesting discoveries.

If you go, here are a few reminders.

  • Bikes are welcome on the gravel roads, but motorized vehicles are not permitted inside the park.
  • Pets are welcome.
  • All plant and animal life is protected in the Nature Park; please do not touch these natural resources. For your own protection, do not feed any of the Nature Park’s wildlife.
  • Fishing is not permitted.

Phinizy Swamp Nature Park
1858 Lock & Dam Road
Augusta, GA 30906
(706)828-2109

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I spent my Halloween day with my friend’s two little goblins: Alaynah, who was dressed up like a dead cheerleader, but mistaken for a pirate all day, and Nick, who was Superman. I decided to take them on a Petersburg Boat  ride along the Augusta Canal. These canal rides are provided daily Monday through Sunday by the Augusta Canal Interpretive Center located inside Enterprise Mill. Because it was Halloween we were in luck because those who came in costumes were offered a free boat ride; a savings of $12 per person.

Before the boat ride we toured the Augusta Canal Interpretive Center. The kids loved this because it offered them a fun learning experience. They were able to view and operate educational models, press buttons and turn wheels while having the opportunity to learn about how the Augusta Canal provided electricity for the city of Augusta and its mills in the past and still does today for some.

After the museum tour it was time to board the replica of the original Petersburg Boat, made from long leaf pine, which provided transportation of goods until it was discovered that trains were a more efficient transportation system. The kids had a blast and saw an abundance of wildlife such as beavers, yellow bellied sliding turtles and birds. We also saw fishermen, kayaks and canoes, because the canal offers recreation also. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the economic opportunities the canal offered the city of Augusta and poised the question “where would Augusta be if the canal had never been constructed?” It may still be here, but things would be very different. We Augustans love our city and don’t want to think about the what if!

If you are interested in learning the history of the beautiful city of Augusta and also finding an activity that is fun for the entire family than look no further because you have found it.

Augusta Canal Interpretive Center
1450 Greene St # 400
Augusta, GA 30901-5237
(706) 823-0440
www.AugustaCanal.com

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It was a perfect fall weekend to explore Aqueduct Park with my girlfriend’s dog Harvey.

Water from the Augusta Canal feeds the park via a cascading waterfall on one side and rock-lined spillway on the other both meeting in a small pool before wandering off a few hundred yards to the Savannah River.

The pool makes for a perfect swimming hole on hot summer days.  Today’s plan didn’t involve any swimming for me, but Harvey loved it.

Water levels vary by season and were barely a trickle today.  When the water is really flowing, more adventurous people enjoy sliding down the rocks of the spillway that today I could walk across with ease.  Another activity people enjoy is rappelling down or climbing up the walls of the old aqueduct.  I’ll save that for another day!

Aqueduct Park is a fairly new park who’s success is largely attributable to determined local volunteers who rescued the area from a jungle of vines, shrubs, and trash.  If you’d like to go and admire their handiwork, the area is accessible by car via a dirt road at the end of Goodrich Street, or by parking across the Canal near Lake Olmstead and crossing the pedestrian bridge.  Google pinpoints it here.

Enjoy!

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A couple of weeks ago, we headed out to Fort Gordon to visit  Hilltop Riding Stables for a nice Saturday morning trail ride.  Hilltop is located just about 20 minutes from downtown Augusta.  It’s great to have such peaceful scenery right outside town.

I’ve had a little bit of experience riding horses when I was growing up. It had probably been a couple of years since my last horseback ride, but that didn’t matter.  The folks out at Hilltop do a great job of matching you up to the right horse based on personality and riding experience.  My horse for the day was ‘Shortcake’ but they call her ‘Shorty’.  We got along great! Hilltop also offers youth horseback riding camps and birthday parties.

We took a 2 hour ride through the trails at the fort, and since most of the woods are shaded the weather was quite pleasant. It was a really pretty, sunny morning, but not too warm.  We had a guide at the front and at the end of the line, to make sure that everyone stuck together.  They also pointed out some of the sights and helped guide first time riders along the way.

Afterwards, we let our horses cool off and get a drink of water and we cooled off ourselves in the welcome center’s air conditioning. It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning in Augusta!

Hilltop Riding Stables
508 N. Range Road
Fort Gordon, GA 30905
(706) 791-4864

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On Saturday afternoon, Granddaddy called and asked if the boys wanted to go fishing. Of course! From downtown Augusta, it is about a 30-minute ride to the Strom Thurmond Dam boat ramp. Dad loaded up the boys and off they went.

The trip was more about the adventure than anything else. The boat ramp was full after a fishing tournament that morning. There was so much to see! They rode the lake for a while before finding a quiet corner to do some fishing. No one volunteered to touch the fish, but in the end it was a great trip.

Clarks Hill Lake is also called Lake Thurmond. I think it just depends what side of the lake you are from. The Georgia side folks say Clark’s Hill and the South Carolina side says Lake Thurmond.

Thurmond Lake comprises nearly 71,100 acres of water with a shoreline of 1200 miles. The lake is one of the southeast’s largest and most popular public recreation lakes. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1946 and 1954 for flood control and for hydropower. Each year, millions of people utilize the many public parks, marinas, and campgrounds. Lake Thurmond one of the 10 most visited Corps lakes in the nation. Thurmond Lake comprises nearly 71,100 acres of water with a shoreline of 1200 miles.

For more info on the lake and all its recreation:

http://www.sas.usace.army.mil/lakes/thurmond/

Or stop by their welcome center:
J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake
510 Clarks Hill Highway
Clarks Hill, SC 29821
1-800-533-3478

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I know it might seem a little weird to kayak in downtown, but along the Augusta Canal it is possible. The journey for me began at the Augusta Canal Headgates where the Canal begins – this is the spot where it branches off from the Savannah River. The canal was originally built by hand in 1845 to harness the water power to operate textile mills. It continues to do that job today more than 100 years later.

For more than seven miles that the canal takes, it leisurely turns. It starts out very quiet and calm with plenty of wildlife and ends with beautiful 100 year-old factories still drawing in water and then right into downtown Augusta – just three blocks from Augusta’s main street.


The canal is all calm water and can be navigated by even the most novice of water travelers – as my friend and co-worker Katrina demonstrated in her canoe. Anna did her best to steer them straight. The entire trip took just under three hours, but that did include stops for snacks. There are many places to put in if you want a shorter trip, but there is also Lake Olmstead to visit if you want to take a longer trip. There is also a path along the canal for cyclists, walkers and fishermen. But today’s journey for me was in a kayak and I loved it!


Today we rented from AWOL. They will drop you off and with a cell phone call, pick you up once you’re done.

American Wilderness Outfitters Limited (AWOL)
2328 Washington Road
Augusta GA 30904
706-738-8500
www.getawol.com


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Mountain biking is a great activity to explore the area around Augusta.  With over 100 miles of single track, you can take your pick from all sorts of trail options.  This weekend we decided to check out a new section of Bartram trail that connects two parks at Lake Thurmond.  The new section extends the length of the original trail to 18 ½ miles one way from West Dam Park to Wildwood Park while passing by Spring Lakes and Petersburg Campground.  Depending how far you want to ride on this in and out style of trail, you can start at any of the four trailheads.  We met up with friends at the trailhead just outside the Petersburg Campground to ride the new section that extends towards Wildwood Park.

The new trail is considered intermediate level and was designed with exciting banked turns, dips, and jumps.

With all those fun features and the occasional beautiful view of the lake while meandering through the woods, this trail could easily become a favorite of mine!

If you’d like to ride Bartram Trail or explore some of the other trails in the area check out SORBA-CSRA, our local mountain biking club. Their website  and forum are great resources for biking information and directions.

If you need to rent a mountain bike during your visit, contact Chain Reaction Bicycle Shop at (706) 855-2024.

See you on the trails!

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