SouthernHiker Outdoor Travel in the South Tue, 13 May 2014 01:25:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Providence Canyon Backcountry Trail Mon, 12 May 2014 18:54:11 +0000

Distance: 7 mile loop
Difficulty: Moderate

Time to Complete:  3.5 – 4 hours

Blazed:  Red


I recently completed the 7 mile loop around and down Providence Canyon.


The trail begins at the Providence Canyon Visitor Center, which is now only open on weekends.  Before hiking the backcountry loops, hikers are asked to sign in at the registration box at the top of the trail.


From the registration box, the trail immediately begins a a gradual descent into the canyon.


At the Canyon Floor, hikers can take a left for a short in-and-back hike into the first set of canyons (covered here). Hiking straight up the hill in the photo above would take hikers on a 3 mile loop to another set of canyons.  A right along the creek begins the red-blazed backcountry trail. I recommend hikers take the first left before returning to the backcountry trail. The backcountry trail doesn’t take hikers into any of the canyons, but around the perimeter of the canyon.




The trail continues for a little over one mile along the creek bed. After the wet spring we had this year (2014), the creek bed was pretty moist and I recommend hikers wear waterproof boots along this section of the trail.


Shortly after crossing a wooden bridge over the creek bed, the trail begins a very gradual ascent before hitting one of the trails steepest climbs around the 2 mile point.  The ascent is steep, but is not very long. At its top campsite 6 is the first passed along an old logging road.  From here, the trail remains mostly flat for one-two miles.  Camp site 5 sits off a short spur trail, and Campsite 4 is large wooden shelter right on the middle of the trail.


After hiking for another mile or so, the trail again descends down a steep, somewhat slippery path toward another very wet area. Unlike the sandy, somewhat solid creek bed in the other canyon, this section of trail is quite muddy, and can hold some unpleasant smells from all of the stagnant water.  This section is pretty short, however, and it quickly switches back up another ascent. This time, the trail climbs twice separated by a relatively flat grade.


The final steep ascent brings hikers back to the top of the canyon.  From here, the trail winds along the rim of the canyon for 2 miles.  This section provides the best views of the canyon. It also has a few bonus views of abandoned cars from the homesteads that used to be located in the area (and possibly contributed to the farming practices that created the canyon).




As hikers continue along the rim overviews, the trail opens up to parallel the entrance road and the picnic area. The trail continues along the fence line to several more overviews before returning to the visitor center.




1. From Highway 27 in Lumpkin head north.

2. Turn left onto Georgia 39c (brown signs on the road where to turn)

3. Follow Georgia 39C approximately 7.5 miles.

4. Turn left into Providence Canyon. Hiking trail and park lot are at the end of the road.


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Canyon Rim Boardwalk–New River Gorge at the Canyon Rim Visitors Center Mon, 09 Sep 2013 00:40:37 +0000


Length: 0.1 miles

Difficulty:  Easy with some stairs

New River Gorge

The Canyon Rim Boardwalk trail is one of the shortest trails a hiker can take to clear views of the New River Gorge span bridge.

The trail is initially a paved decline leading to its first observation deck looking over the gorge and partially obstructed views of the bridge.

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Below this deck, 176 steps leads hikers down to the lower observation platform with clear, unobstructed views of the New River Gorge Bridge.

New River GorgeNew River Gorge

The trailhead is located at the Canyon Rim Visitors Center along the edge of the parking area in front of the visitors center.


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Dowdells Knob, Pine Mountain Trail–Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park Sun, 03 Mar 2013 01:37:41 +0000

Distance: 1.2 miles one way

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Dowdell’s Knob, Pine Mountain Trail

Dowdells Knob is a scenic overlook in F.D. Roosevelt State Park, and is known for it being President Roosevelt’s favorite spot to picnic during his time in nearby Warm Springs, Georgia. At the top of the overlook, the grill Roosevelt used and a statute of the president taking in the view commemorate its significant.


The Dowdells Knob Trail is a one way trail which follows along a portion of the 23 mile Pine Mountain Trail in Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park. This section of trail takes hikers down toward the base of Pine Mountain from the  1395 foot Dowdells Knob. While the trail continues along the Pine Mountain Trail for numerous miles, The Dowdells trail is described as ending at a small waterfall at Brown Dog Bluff.  Along the trail hikers will make a slow, steady descent through a somewhat recently tornado ravaged ridgeline.  During the winter, much of this hike provides wide open views of Pine Mountain Valley below.


The trail begins atop Dowdells Knob after walking through a small pavilion containing a map of the entire Pine Mountain Trail. From here, the first section of the hike is a very short connecting trail down to the formal PMT.  To continue towards Dowdells Knob, turn left, and follow the trail along the ridgeline.


It should be noted that several hundred yards to the right hikers can see a small memorial to an airplane crash several years earlier.  This short detour provides both a sense of history, as well as limited views of Concharty Lake in the valley below.


After continuing back to the trail intersection, the trail curves beneath the scenic overlook along a very rock ridgeline.  The first portion of this trail is a very gradual descent within a somewhat densely wooded area.

After a few thousand yards, the effects from a tornado that passed through the area in April of 2011. The hundreds of acres in the state park both along this ridgeline and in the valley below suffered tremendous damage from the tornado. The true power of mother nature can be experienced by walking through the tree graveyard along the trail. Surrounding the trail for another thousand yards, continuing deep into the valley below, and then going back up another distant ridgeline are thousands of uprooted, gnarled trees. The hike through all of this carnage, combined with the beauty of the open spaces is surreal. Nature’s paradoxical ability to destroy and kill, combines with its ability to thrive and survive in a unique way rarely seen so up close.



After passing through the damage, the open views created by fallen trees closes back up, nearly as suddenly as it opened.  The trail begins to proceed up an old gravel creek bed before making its final rapid descent down to Brown Dog Bluff.   This last descent is somewhat narrow and rocky. Be very careful with every step during the final descent as the trail becomes tremendously slick from the combination of fallen leaves and soft sandy soil.



While the state park site and the Pine Mountain Trail site refer to the end of this trail as a small waterfall, a better term may be a creek with a small drop off.  Referring to it as a waterfall can result in somewhat eleveated expectations which are sure to be disappointed.

Nonetheless, the creek does provide a nice spot to rest, and watch the small series of cascades continue down Brown Dog Bluff.  Hikers may continue up past the creek for approximately 3-4 miles to make a loop back to the car via Boot Top Trail, or return the 1.2 miles as we did.


From Columbus:

1. Follow US-27 North towards Warm Springs, Georgia.

2. US 190 East forks away from 27 and enters into FD Roosevelt State Park

3.  Dowdell’s Knob is approximately 6 miles past the Park Offices.




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Macon Cherry Blossom – Macon Georgia Fri, 01 Mar 2013 16:28:47 +0000

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In a state that tends to celebrate the coming of autumn far more than the arrival spring, the Macon Cherry Blossom Festival is a welcome sign that spring is arriving in Georgia. In addition to the beautiful cherry blossoms that arrive in early to mid-March throughout Macon, the festival brings artisans both local and from the far sides of country.

Lined in white tents through Macon’s downtown streets, this festival is one of the larger ones in Georgia as far as sheer number of vendors.



Additionally, one of my favorite summertime events, the classic car show, complete with beach boy music and hot rods occurs during the main day of the festival.

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The Festival also has a kids area with inflatables throughout.



For me, this is one of the more exciting festivals in Georgia.  With lots of entertainment continuing on into the night, and its location on downtown Macon, the festival feels more like a block party with roasted corn and art than some of the more standard mountain fairs I tend to frequent.

For more information on the upcoming years festival, visit the Cherry Blossom Festival web page.


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Fighting Creek Nature Trail–Gatlinburg, TN Tue, 08 Jan 2013 19:28:29 +0000

Distance: 1.2 mile loop

Difficulty: Easy


Fighting Creek Nature Trail

The Fighting Creek Nature Trail is a popular short trail near the Sugarland Visitor Center. It takes hikers through a very open forest in the Sugarlands along a hillside to the John Ownby Cabin. The cabin is one of the oldest remaining pre-park cabins in the Forks community.


The trail begins at just behind the Sugarland Visitors Center. At the entrance, $0.50 brochure provides a guided description of markers along the trail.  The trail begins by forking to the left of the paved path, and runs parallel to a creek with several downed trees.

Fighting Creek Nature TrailFighting Creek Nature TrailFighting Creek Nature Trail

The trail then crosses over a wooden bridge where the path appears to divide into three. To the right is the Cataract Falls Trail. That path continues for approximately 0.3 miles to a small waterfall.

The natural flow of the Fighting Creek Nature Trail is to follow it to the left.  The trail then runs a few hundred yards parallel to Little River Road, and slowly descends a hillside.

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At approximately 0.6 miles, John Ownby Cabin can be seen just beyond a creek.  The open cabin was built around 1860, and is the last remaining structures in the Forks of the River Community from before the parks. Visitors can walk around inside.

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After exploring the cabin, the trail DOES NOT continue out its backdoor. Though there appears to be a path, it quickly ends.

The actual path continues just to the right of where hikers approached the cabin. The cabin actually marks the top of the loop that returns hikers back to Sugarland Visitor Center.

The return path is slightly more elevated, with a few semi-steep climbs that would likely still be considered easy.  The trail then descends back to the first bridge and creek crossing. From there, hikers cross over and return on the path back to the Visitors Center.

Fighting Creek Nature TrailFighting Creek Nature TrailFighting Creek Nature TrailFighting Creek Nature TrailFighting Creek Nature TrailFighting Creek Nature Trail




1. From Gatlinburg Drive South on 441 for 1.9 miles to Sugarland Visitor Center.

2. The Nature Trail begins after crossing past the restrooms and solar cells, and then turning left at the Fighting Creek Nature Trail sign.


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Sandy Creek Park Disc Golf–Athens, Georgia Thu, 13 Dec 2012 17:29:41 +0000

Sandy Creek Park Disc Golf

Sandy Creek Park has one of the largest disc golf courses I have played on. The course has 23 holes over a 782 acre. Unlike other parks, this course encompasses nearly the entire acreage.  Each hole has multiple concrete tee pads and tee markers. A large portion of the course is made up of holes with long, open drives, but for those wanting a wooded challenge, the last section of holes won’t disappoint.


The first 8-10 holes of the course are played along the southern section of the park to the right of the park’s driveway.  Most of those holes will have only a few tree obstacles, or be in long open fields.

Sandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfIMG_8474Sandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc Golf

From there, the course travels across the park’s entrance towards the tennis and basketball courts. The first few holes on this section of the course are also wide, long holes. From there, players begin to approach the lake for a handful of holes along the water’s edge.

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After the holes along the lake’s edge, the course gets more difficult as it enters a series of narrow wooded holes along the hillsides.

Sandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc GolfSandy Creek Park Disc Golf

The course makes its way back out of the woods and returns to the park area near the beginning of the course.

Sandy Creek Park Disc Golf

Fees: $1 per player


From Hwy. 10:

1. Take Exit 12 onto US 441 toward Commerce

2. Travel 3.0 miles on US 441-N

3. Turn right onto Bob Holman Road.

4. Sandy Creek Park is located on right at 400 Bob Holman Road.

Sandy Creek Park Disc Golf


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Hen Wallow Falls Trail–Great Smoky Mountains–Cosby, Tennessee Thu, 08 Nov 2012 14:03:16 +0000


Hen Wallow Falls

Distance: 2.2 Miles One Way

Difficulty: Moderate

Notes of Interest: Be very bear aware in this area, it is well known for black bear activity.

Hen Wallow Falls is an easy to moderate hiking trail beginning at the Smoky Mountain NPS’ Cosby Campground.  The trail begins near either the back corner of Section A in the campground or across from the Cosby Campground Parking area (for non-campground campers), and is actually part of the much longer Gabes Mountain Trail.

The first half mile or so of this trail is a relatively flat hike through a hemlock forest surrounded by the occasional rhododendron thicket.

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The trail slowly begins to roll up and down several short hills before moving into a more steady descent that crosses of Hen Wallow Creek.

Hen Wallow Falls

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After a little over a mile of hiking, the trail then begins to ascend again to the edge of the mountainside that will from the face of Hen Wallow Falls.

Hen Wallow Falls

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As the trail approaches the top of the hillside, it narrows and the surroundings become somewhat rockier.  At 2.1 miles, the Hen Wallows Trail branches to the right, and rapidly descends the final miles along a narrow mountainside edge.

Hen Wallow Falls

At the base of the trail, Hen Wallow Falls is a 90’ waterfall which begins as a narrow 2’ wide trickle at its top before spreading to nearly 20’ at its base.  The trail approaches its rocky, boulder lined base.

Hen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow FallsHen Wallow Falls

The trail returns back along this branch.   One word of warning. As I returned back along this dense section of trail, I came within 3 feet of a black bear. Fortunately, she and I both scampered back in opposite directions before she stood up on her two hind legs on a tree about 15 feet away and got a good look at me (and I her).   After retreating a good 100 yards or back to the base of the falls, and waiting a good 10 minutes. We returned up the trail, and she seems to have continued on her way as well.   Be very bear aware, and make lots of noise when hiking in the Cosby area so as not to surprise them. With possibly the exception of Roaring Fork, it is one of the most active bear areas in the Smokies.



From Gatlinburg:

1. Follow TN-73/ US 321 East for  18 miles toward Cosby, TN.

2. Turn right onto TN-32 and follow signage toward Cosby campground.

3. Park in the designated hiker parking area at Cosby Picnic Area

4. Across the street and about 100 yards back along the road to the signed start of the Gabes Mountain Trail.



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Government Island–Stafford, Virginia Sun, 04 Nov 2012 14:28:12 +0000

Government Island

Government Island, located just off Highway 1 in Stafford, Virginia, is a small peninsula surrounded by marsh lands on one side and by Aquia Creek on the other.  This peninsula was the quarry location used for much of the sandstone in the White House and the US Capitol buildings in nearby D.C., as well as many other famous northern Virginia buildings, tombs, and pathways.


Government Island only opened to the public back in 2010, but provides an excellent historic hike along a scenic wetland.  The 1.5 mile loop trail leading to the island is initially a paved trail following along Austin Run as it empties into the marshlands.

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As the paved trail approaches a sharp bend in the Run, the trail becomes a boardwalk and bridge crossing over into open wetlands before approaching the “island” (actually a peninsula surrounded by tidal marsh lands on one side).

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Once on the island, the trail becomes a looping dirt path with numerous roots and rocks.

The trail is really best hiked by continuing straight off the bridge and then making a left along the path.

From here, signs along the trail discuss the history of what was then known as Public Quarry.

The Quarry was initially owned by the Brent family in the area before being selected by a local Stafford raised individual named George Washington selected a committee to construction the District of Columbia. This committee hired Pierre Charles L’Enfant to find his construction materials. In 1791, Brent Island was transferred to L’Enfant and became the quarry for the sandstone to be used.  The reason for its location becomes evident as one hikes the loop around the island.  Its location allowed for easy transport of the quarried rock down to the Potomac and then up to D.C.

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As the hike makes a small climb to the higher elevation of the island, splendid views of the marsh lands and Aquia creek.

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The trail winds along the entire perimeter of the island along an obscured dirt and leaf path, but contains only small elevation changes.  It returns back to the original bridge that entered the island.


From Stafford, Virginia and Garrisonville Road:

1.  From Garrisonville Road, turn right and head South of Highway 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway)

2. Drive 6.1 miles on Highway 1 and turn left at the traffic signal onto Coal Landing Road

3.  Drive 0.9 miles along Coal Landing Road/ Barge Road, Government Island parking area is on the left.

Located just off Highway 1 in Stafford, Virginia,


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Bridge Day – New River Gorge, West Virginia Thu, 25 Oct 2012 00:04:11 +0000



On the third Saturday of October every year, hundreds of people show up in West Virginia to answer a question we’ve all heard our parents ask, “ If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?”

For over 450 B.A.S.E. jumpers, Bridge Day in West Virginia provides them the chance to answer in the affirmative.  B.A.S.E. jumpers in 2012 were able to jump from a platform atop the bridge, dive off a diving board, or even be catapulted off the bridge with a pneumatic catapult and plenty were choosing all three.  Two jumpers even used the day to take the marriage leap before take the bridge leap.


For thousands more, myself included, we get the chance to watch them do the insane.

Bridge Day occurs along a stretch of Highway 19, just outside Fayetteville, WV. The center piece of the event, is the Western Hemisphere’s longest single span arched bridge.


The New River Gorge Bridge stretches 3,030 feet over the New River Gorge, and sits well over 800 feet over the New River.

The bridge is closed to pedestrians every day of the year except this one. On Bridge Day, no vehicular traffic is allowed on the bridge and pedestrians flock to its edges for beautiful views of the gorge and to watch as jumpers fall from the top of the bridge during the  legal B.A.S.E. jumping event.


If you’re not into B.A.S.E. jumping, but still want to get over the edge, Bridge Day also offers the opportunity to rappel down the  span or to take a slow zip-line down one of its sides.


In addition to watching adrenaline junkies fall from the bridge, opening their chutes at the last possible moment, visitors are treated to food, arts, and crafts along both sides of the bridge.


When:  The 3rd Saturday in October, annually.


1. The New River Gorge Bridge is located on Highway 19 just North of Fayetteville, WV

2. Highway 19 across the bridge is closed throughout the day on Bridge Day. Plan to arrive and depart from the same side of the bridge.

3. Parking is available on both the North and South sides of the bridge.


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Fort Pulaski–Tybee Island Wed, 17 Oct 2012 23:00:16 +0000


Fort Pulaski

Technically located on Cockspur Island, near Tybee Island, Georgia,  Fort Pulaski was a fort built after the War of 1812, and which saw significant battle during the Civil War.  After the federal victory, the fort was turned into a prison for 600 Confederate soldiers, known as the Immortal 600.

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The fort, which was taken by Confederate troops at the beginning of the Civil War, also saw its defeat and return to the Union in 1862.  The outside of the fort is surrounded by a large bricked moat, complete with a resident alligator. Within the bounds of the moat are additional earth fortifications prior to reaching the actual entrance to the fort.  The fort and its significant artillery of cannons was designed as part of the coastal defense fortifications following America’s second war with the British.

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Within the walls of the fort, visitors can walk along the lower level of the fort and see the rooms where soldiers lived, served, or were imprisoned.

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Visitors can also climb to the top level of the fort, and see the views of the coastal waterways the fort was designed to protect.


Outside of the fort, several trails can be hiked within the national monument area. One trail, the lighthouse trail is a 1.75 mile trail that provides views of the fort’s exterior walls. One can still see the significant damage to the wall from the new rifled cannons used on the fort.  

This trail then continues out to the edge of the island to provide views of a lighthouse out in the waterway.


From Interstate I-95:

1. Take Exit 99 onto Interstate I-16 East (James L Gillis Memorial Hwy) for 7 miles.
2. Take Exit 164A onto Interstate I-516 East toward US-80 East.
3. Take Exit 3 (US-17 S/US-80 E) toward US-80 East.
4. Turn left onto Ocean Highway, Ogeechee Rd (US-17 N, US-80 East).
5. Bear right onto West Victory Drive (US-80 East).
6. Continue on US-80 East for 13 miles


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