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Hiking Our Way Through A Health Pandemic

By Karen Cohen, publisher of Macaroni Kid Alpharetta-Roswell-Milton May 3, 2020

There isn't a blueprint for how to handle the mental strain of the COVID-19 health pandemic. Every day, more things are shutting down and being canceled. No where to go. And although there is no place like home... we need some space, some new scenery and we found there is one thing not closed, NATURE! 

Using proper social distancing etiquette, spending time out on trails has been our peaceful escape. The boys have been playing old school style in nature  - climbing trees, throwing rocks, playing in creeks, fishing, hiking and getting dirty.

Below are some of the spots we have explored. Please feel free to email me for any specifics or to send me a trail we should check out: karencohen@macaronikid.com. And before venturing out, please remember the open status of trails can be ever changing during this health situation, so plan accordingly.

Leita Thompson Memorial Park (Roswell): Wide trails that led us down to a small pond. It was a catch and release fishing pond. 





Caney Creek Preserve (Cumming): A few subscribers told me about this spot. I had never heard of it. There are a couple of wide open green space areas where our boys enjoyed throwing a football. Nice trails that led to a creek for playing. It was beautiful. We will be back and it is not far!





Dunwoody Nature Center (Dunwoody): This one is by my parents house, so we have been several times before. Easy trails and a small creek. Our kids created an obstacle course in the woods. This is a great spot for even little kids, as it is not too overwhelming. And when "normal" comes back -- Dunwoody Nature Center has a great playground. 





Autrey Mill Nature Preserve (Johns Creek): We went to Autrey Mill Nature Preserve for the first time last summer and it is a truly a gem! I wondered why we hadn't been sooner. There are animals, trails, creek, teepee and other outdoor experiences. A really wonderful place at anytime.





Big Creek Greenway (Alpharetta): We've lived in Milton for seven years and can honestly say we have only been on the Big Creek Greenway a couple of times because, well -- we are always "too busy." But, the boys got new bikes and the Greenway is a perfect spot for bike riding. It is flat, scenic and peaceful. 





Charleston Park (Cumming): This is on Lake Lanier. There are some picnic and greenspace areas. It felt calm here. We watched boats coming and going. Boys caught a fish.





Chattahoochee Nature Center (Roswell): This is one of my favorite local gems. There are animal exhibits, hiking trails, and the wonder of the great outdoors all around you. The Chattahoochee Nature Center boasts 2.5 miles of great hiking trails across the 127-acre property, perfect for beginners and experienced hikers alike. All trails feature an abundance of plant and wildlife, year-round birding, and so much more. Tickets and advanced reservations are required to enter. You can read more about our adventures at CNC HERE





Providence Park (Milton): This is an easy trail that leads to a small lake. We tried to fish here (it is catch and release), but didn't catch anything. It is a nice and easy hike. This is our go-to spot when we need to escape somewhere quick, but haven't planned anything specific.





Birmingham Park (Milton): Trail in Milton area. A nice spot for walking. We took the dogs and they loved it.





Vickery Creek Falls Old Mill (Roswell): This is a popular trail/waterfall in the historic Roswell area. Many people have professional photos taken here. At the spot by the waterfall many people play/swim in the water area. The waterfall is a gorgeous scene and not a far walk off the trail. 





Big Trees Forest (Sandy Springs): This one was our fifth grader's favorite trail. Or, more importantly his favorite creek to fall in. The trail area is right off of busy Roswell Road, but you would never know it as you are nestled under a canopy of large trees. There is a big creek and access areas to wade into the water to play. The trails are all in a wooded area -- it is a short loop. 





Haw Creek (Cumming): This is a trail used by a lot by mountain bikers. We walked and enjoyed it. There is a bike/skateboard activity area. 





Little Ridge Park Trail (Cumming): This trail is in the woods with views and access points to Lake Lanier. There are several spots where you can access small beach type areas on Lake Lanier. We saw some people fishing. It could also be a good picnic spot on one of the beach access spots. 





Morgan Falls Overlook Park (Sandy Springs): These trails were in a forest with scenic views of Bull Sluice Lake along the Chattahoochee River. The boys loved that these trails were a little more adventurous. We had to duck under trees and cross over logs along this narrow and hilly trail. There were many fishers on the dock and a spot to rent canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, etc (need reservations). There is a also a big playground and patio swings overlooking the water. 




Webb Bridge Park (Alpharetta): We have been to this park many times for baseball, but we had never been on the trails. There is a great wide gravel trail through the woods. We found a creek and even a small pond with turtles, fish and a couple ducks! Now... the next time I am here for baseball, I may sneak off to go walking. 




Garrad Landing Park (Roswell): This gravel wide open trail has views of the Chattahoochee River. There are also nice big green areas perfect for throwing a ball or having a picnic. There is also a large pond. The trails are flat and easy for any age hiker.




Indian Seats Trail at Sawnee Mountain Preserve (Cumming): This is a moderate hike up Sawnee Mountain to a panoramic scenic view. We have done this trail many times; it is an ideal spot for an afternoon hike and the view never gets old. For a more detailed review of this trail, click HERE.




Amicalola Falls State Park (Dawsonville): This hike in north Georgia has breathing-taking waterfall views. There are several hikes to choose from, we chose the one to see the main falls (the falls cascade down 729 feet).  This route it is 600 steps down, which means 600 steps back up! There are bridges and benches along to rest -- just be aware of the amounts of stairs you must climb up and down if you have little ones. This trail can get crowded, so plan accordingly. Parking is $5 and gives you access to the state park with many spots for picnics and there is a playground.  





Blue Heron Nature Preserve (Buckhead): These trails take you through a 30-acre urban oasis. Nestled in Buckhead, these easy trails weave around Nancy's Creek. You will see a community garden, a man-made honey bees nest, a creek, murals, bird houses and lots of nature! The creek has many beach access points for skipping rocks or wading in the water. To read more about this hike, click HERE.





The world has been handed this unprecedented storm. We all have different circumstances and personal choices of how we are handling it. As a good friend of mine likes to say, "you do you!" When we come out on the other side of this, whether you have gained or lost ten pounds, whether your kids played video games or did academic enrichment activities, whether your hair is blonde or gray -- you survived and I can't wait to see YOU! For now... I will just keep hiking.

And if you want to follow more of our adventures, follow me on Instagram.

Love,

Karen

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