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Back to the Outdoors- Finding Places to Hike

by JP on Sep.26, 2008, under Hiking Trails

Unless you grew up in a densely populated urban city, most people can remember a time in their childhood where most of the non-school day was spent outside in the yard, in the woods, or riding bikes down the road to friends’ houses. Most of us likely remember those days with nostalgia as a time when we had few responsibilities, were more adventurous than our older “maturer selves,” and were able to truly enjoy nature’s gifts. One of the fantastic things about living or visiting the Southern United States, is that you are never too far from a place to recapture some of those childhood memories. A great hike, bike, or other outdoor adventure is rarely more than an hour away from us .

Difficulties in Finding Outdoor Adventures.
Often, there are a number of obstacles both real and perceived preventing a return to the enjoyment of the great outdoors. One major obstacle perceived is the difficulty in finding places to begin the return to the outdoors.  The great thing about living in the Southern United States is that there is always a place within an hour’s drive.  This website will provide a great starting point to locating hikes, bikes, and other great outdoor adventures.

Solving the Problem of Time:

As our world continues to grow faster paced, finding time to slow down and enjoy nature becomes even more essential. Our bodies are not made to be constantly in a state of occupational stress. Our most primal survival skills after all comes from centuries of learning to interact with nature versus mere decades of interacting with a keyboard.

While it is easy to say we have to “make time” to relax. The cliche is often stated far too simply. After all, there are only twenty-four hours in a day.  The only way to find time to relax in nature is to manage your time, not “make it” as is too often stated. The great thing about being in the South, whether in Georgia or Texas, Florida or Virginia is that a quick escape to the outdoors is rarely more than an hour away. Certainly we can find an hour or two on the weekend to escape to nature. To return to that childhood where responsibilities are at least temporarily washed away by green forests and roaring camp fires.

The Problem of Fitness

Often it is perceived that a return to the great outdoors requires excellent fitness, a granola diet, and a buff bod. BUT, whether you have been out of outdoor adventuring since the age of 7, or have been hitting the weight room for two a days, the point of this return to the outdoors is to escape that rigorous work schedule, that day to day urban monotony. The return to the outdoors is for all.

Outdoor adventures are not just for the triathletes and marathon runners in the world. We all can enjoy the great outdoors as long as we do not over do it, and have patients with our bodies. If you are concerned about your physical ability to start hiking, it is always better to be safe than sorry to discuss any new exercise program with a medical professional. If you get the okay, or feel that you are ready for some hikes, start with something slow, look for our hikes rated “EASY”. Hiking and Biking can be a great way to begin a fitness program designed for weight loss. Start off with trails that are not too steep and climbing and trails that are less than 2.0 miles in length (remember distances for trails that are not loops are usually listed as one way distances, so double it to know the actual length).  Just be sure to take it slow to avoid injury and burn out. Committing to hiking or biking on the weekends provides a twofold solution to many of our problems, it provides a time to relax and a time to enjoy nature while losing weight.

V. Final words of safety.

As with all things that are began, safety is always a must. Please do not jump into an outdoor adventure without knowing all of the necessary safety precautions.

Also, don’t overdo it. Your first hike since childhood should not be a 15 miler that ends in an emergency room visit. Take it easy at first, and build yourselves up to the longer hikes. In the end it will be worth it. Hopefully, your return to the great outdoors will be enjoyable as the years I have spent embracing the environmental blessings that we have around us.

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Viking Trail-Old Stretch Road Bike Loop, Berry College, Rome, Georgia

by JP on Sep.13, 2008, under Cycling Trails

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 6-7 mile loop

This past weekend I found a great biking loop for those interested in just getting into biking in the Northwest Georgia area.

At Berry College, I was bringing my spouse along for her first bike ride since she was probably 7 years old, and so I needed to find a ride that was relatively flat.  The Old Stretch road near Berry’s now dry lake bed was an excellent easy ride. Here’s how I made it a looped ride.

I drove my bikes out to the Mountain Campus and parked over in the parking lot below Frost Chapel.

We then took the bikes down a small pathway to the left of the hill that Frost Chapel is built on. The small pathway will go by two dilapitated sheds/buildings.  After riding down this trail for a few hundred yards, you cross a small wooden bridge and come out into an open field. On the opposite end of this field are two buildings. From the field, I turned right and crossed over field and Stretch Road (the road you drive to get to Mountain campus), and enter onto Viking Trail.

Entrance to Viking Trail

Viking Trail is a paved pathway that runs parallel to Stretch Road for pedestrians and cyclists. The trail is approximately 3 miles long.   The Viking Trail is a very easy ride, although not that scenic. While riding you cannot see the paved Stretch Road, but can hear traffic along it. It is relatively flat, with only a few short climbing hills.  There are electrical poles running beside the paved pathway with decreasing numbers on them.  When you reach the telephone pole with the number “3″ on it, turn left, cross old stretch road.

Be aware here…there are two trails that travel by the old lake. If you are facing the lake bed from Stretch road, Take the trail to the right of the lake bed, not the one to the left of the lake bed.

Entry Looks Like This

Entry to Old Stretch Looks Like This

This pathway will follow an old dirt road, cross an old stone bridge and travel through a wooded area. Make sure not to take the left turn to circle the lake, or you will end up back on Stretch Road. While the path is not all that exciting it is a good beginning ride for those cyclist not yet used to the rougher terrain. The dirt road will eventually take you past a log cabin home, and then exit back into the parking lot.


1. Enter Berry College along Highway 27 in Rome, Georgia.

2. Take the 2nd Right on the roundabout and follow the rod the the next right.

3. Take the next right to the stop sign and turn left onto stretch road.

4. Follow Stretch road for approximately 3 miles to the Mountain Campus.

5. Take the first paved left and follow to the parking lot below Frost Chapel.

6. The Entrance to the loop is along a small path beside the hill that Frost Chapel is on (not the dirt road behind frost, but the path to the left of dirt road).

Note: I would like to point out that this trail should not be considered any sort of fast or exciting single track. It is good for leisurely riding, that is not on the road. This is a trail that is good for beginners because it is not crowded, not technically difficult, and not an extremely long ride.

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Berry College, Mountain Campus Disc Golf Course, Rome, Georgia

by JP on Sep.06, 2008, under Disc Golf

Berry Disc Golf Course

This Disc Golf Course is an eighteen hole course located on the Mountain Campus at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. This course has been rated one of the best disc golf courses in the area.

This course provides changing terrains amidst beautiful scenery and wildlife.

Each hole on the course is marked by a concrete block embedded into the ground (usually marked with the hole number pointed on the block).

Hole 1 of the course begins at the bottom of a large open field near Winshape Center buildings. The first two holes follow along a steep creek bank (which may or may not be dry).

The course then continues up the side of the mountain through holes of varying difficulties and lengths.

If playing at the right time of day (primarily evening time), one is highly likely to see very large white tail deer walking through the course without any really fear of human presence.

Editor’s Notes of the course: Hole 13 provides a very interesting shot around an outdoor building.

After leaving Hole 14, you may look diligently for the tee to hole 15, only to see a Tee marked with a “6″ next to a manhole cover. This is in fact the tee to Hole 15. It used to be Tee “6″ when the course was only a 9 hole course. Tee 15 looks like this:

Nearby Courses:

Berry College Main Campus Course

Directions: 1. Take US-27 to Berry College in Rome, Georgia.

2. Enter the main entrance and follow the roundabout to the second right.

3. Take the next right on a road that runs between two fields to a stop sign.

4. Turn left at the stop sign onto Stretch Road, and follow to Mountain Campus.

5. At the end of stretch road is the WinShape Center. The first tee for the course is on the far corner of the open field next to Winshape.

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