ATLANTA, GEORGIA—Hit the Trail! The Atlanta Metro area has a hiking, biking and sightseeing adventure–even a food, film and history trail–for every interest. Grab your gear and get moving to a new adventure with friends and family. Here are just a few ideas:
Foxhall is a resort estate on 1,100 acres of Georgia countryside with luxury lodging, farm-to-table cuisine and year-round outdoor activities (8000 Capps Ferry Road Douglasville, GA 30135). It’s home to premiere sporting clay courses, as well as 16 freshwater lakes for trophy bass fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing and miles of grounds spilling across hardwood forests and rolling hillsides. The setting offers endless opportunities to enjoy breathtaking views of the landscape and the local flora and fauna. Stroll alongside the Chattahoochee River, whose historic banks were home to the Creek Indians centuries ago. Approximately 10 miles of hiking trails, many which can also be traversed on bikes or horseback, offer varying degrees of difficulty.
More than 700 movie and television productions have been filmed in Douglas County and Douglasville. Stop by the Douglasville Convention and Visitors Bureau (6694 East Broad Street, Douglasville, GA 30134) to pick up a hard copy map. Explore where Katniss and Gale walked in Sweetwater Creek State Park for the filming of “The Hunger Games” and where Jim Hopper investigated the paranormal of “Stranger Things” in Downtown Douglasville (cast as Hawkins, Indiana). Notable locations throughout Douglasville and Douglas County have been marked with ‘DC Film Trail’ signs to designate them as official film locations. The website gives details on each production and location; navigate to the movie reel to explore all of the possible stops along the trail. 770-947-5920; www.DouglasCountyFilmTrail.com
Walk under towering pines and oaks on this 146-acre preserve filled with rolling hills, spring-fed ponds and towering trees in the heart of Clayton County (5665 Reynolds Road, Morrow, Ga 30260). Enjoy the peaceful three miles of trails so quiet, you wouldn’t know you’re so close to the world’s busiest airport. 770-603-4188; www.ReynoldsNaturePreserve.org/Reynolds_Nature_Preserve.php
Explore the paths through the wetlands and learn the important role they play for humans, animals and the local eco-system (2755 Freeman Rd, Hampton, GA 30228). Bring the kids to see what animals can be spotted on a jaunt around the boardwalk. 770-603-5603; www.ccwa.us/newman-wetlands-center
Weave your way through history in Marietta, Atlanta and Jonesboro. Discover the history and legacy behind one of the world’s most renowned stories through sites linked to the iconic “Gone With the Wind,” including the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum, Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta’s Margaret Mitchell House, The Road to Tara Museum, Stately Oaks Plantation and much more. www.GWTWTrail.com
Gone With the Girls/Guys/Gang provides itinerary ideas to help plan the next girlfriend getaway, guys retreat or a fun multi-generational trip to Clayton County, Henry County and the city of McDonough. The variety of things to do cover every age and diverse interests, ranging from a brewery, spa retreat, The Road to Tara Museum and Stately Oaks Plantation, auto and racing enthusiast attractions, to a place where a tiger and bear are best friends–plenty to keep any group entertained. www.GoneWithTheGirls.net
Through this guided tour company, fans of “The Walking Dead” can check out all of the great filming locations throughout metro Atlanta. Currently included on the Big Zombie 1 Tour, this trail is soon to be provided as a handout in the retail shop to aid with self-guided tours (327 Nelson Street, Atlanta, GA 30313). At their own pace, guests can visit downtown Atlanta locations where “The Walking Dead” Season 1 was filmed. An easy walk with great hidden gems make it a fun trail for those looking to check out their favorite scenes from their favorite show.
Downtown Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill Historic District, where the retail shop is located, is filled with more film and TV locations than just about any neighborhood. This trail will send you on your way to walk in the footsteps of Liam Neeson, Tyler Perry and other stars. Guests can currently take the tour with a guide, but soon a handout will be available for a self-guided tour any day. 855-255-3456; www.AtlantaMovieTours.com
Just 20 minutes outside of I-285 on Atlanta’s east side, The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area spans DeKalb, Henry and Rockdale counties, with more than 2,000 acres, three lakes and many historic sites. There are 15 trailhead locations throughout the area. With more than 33 miles of endless adventure, the Arabia Mountain PATH connects walkers, cyclists and joggers to an open landscape of breathtaking beauty, peace and wonder. Dominated by two massive granite outcrops, it offers visitors picturesque historic landmarks and stunning natural vistas. www.ArabiaAlliance.org
The Vaughters’ Farm Meadow Loop is an easy unpaved trail perfect for a quick getaway, offering unbeatable views of the historic Vaughters’ Barn, rolling hills and open grassy meadows. The 1.25-mile trail offers a picturesque loop through a field filled with an agricultural past. (Parking available at the Vaughters’ Farm Trailhead, 3366 Klondike Road, Lithonia, GA 30038.) http://arabiaalliance.org/uncategorized/vaughters-farm-meadow-loop
Panola Mountain State Park is the crown jewel of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. Just south of Atlanta in Henry County, Panola Mountain offers a variety of biking, hiking and walking trails (2620 Highway 155 SW, Stockbridge, GA 30281). Designated a National Natural Landmark, Panola Mountain is a 100-acre granite outcrop similar to Stone Mountain, but smaller and much more pristine. Rent a bike and explore the more than 30 miles of connected PATH Foundation trails. Sign up for a guided “Moonlight Mountain Hike” through the conservation area to the top of the mountain or strike out on your own on the many other fitness trails. 770-389-7801; http://gastateparks.org/PanolaMountain
When you want more from your nature walk than just exercise and fresh air, consider the trails through the animal habitats at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary (712 LG Griffin Road, Locust Grove, GA 30248). The approximately one-mile paved trail takes you past bears, lions, tigers, foxes and monkeys who are enjoying their forever home. Noah’s Ark is a sanctuary for animals who have been abandoned, abused, seized or whose previous owners had to surrender them. Bring the kids, bring a stroller, bring a picnic. Noah’s Ark is free to visit. 770-957-0888; www.Noahs-Ark.org
History lovers can make a day of it in Henry County. For a multi-century immersion, start off at Nash Farm Battlefield, the site of the largest cavalry battle in Georgia (100 Babbs Mill Rd, Hampton, GA 30228; 770-288-7300). Walk the trails and learn about the site’s history from historic markers. Move from battles fought on horseback to the revolution of helicopter air support. Visit the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation and Flying Museum (506 Speedway Blvd., Hampton, GA 30228; 770-897-0444) which preserves and presents the legacy of Army aviation through its collection of Vietnam-era Cobra and Huey helicopters. Take the free hangar tour or purchase a ride in one of the aircraft. The next stop on Henry County’s history trail is the Heritage Park Veterans Museum (101 Lake Dow Road, McDonough, GA 30252; 770-288-7300). With more than 20,000 pieces and the veterans who volunteer their time to share the personal stories of the soldiers represented in the museum, it is a moving final stop. 770-692-7954; www.VisitHenryCountyGeorgia.com