Atlanta springs are nothing to sneeze at. Well, there’s plenty for you allergy sufferers! The weather is pleasant, the canopy overhead is brimming with new growth, and the critters are active. So are the members of the Climate Action Team. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite spots around the state.
Bert Pearce: One of my favorites is Blood Mountain, the highest point on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail. You get great views in all directions on a clear day. Close by is beautiful Lake Winfield Scott. My son Michael and I (right) hiked to the top of Blood Mountain for a pandemic outing in March 2021. We met several backpackers who had just started their south-to-north journey on the AT with hopes of going all the way to Maine.
Kathy Judy: We love Sidney Marcus Park in our neighborhood, which was created by the city when a proposed highway did not go through back in the early 70s. We like to walk there and watch the children playing on the playground.
Susan Perz: One of my favorite places is Gibbs Gardens. My first time there I was invited by a photo buddy friend, and the date happened to fall on the five-year anniversary of my Mother’s passing away. The weather was perfect, and one of my photos from that day (left) ended up being shown at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens juried show a few months later! It was very meaningful to me and special – a spiritual blessing and the blessing of a renewed sense of my Mom’s love.
Laura Rose: My go-to weekday walk in the woods is at Stone Mountain Park. I like to start at the nature garden trail and wind my way to Venable Lake, sometimes making it to the covered bridge and then returning around the opposite side of the lake. I often see the resident great blue heron, ducks, and always lots of turtles sunning themselves on logs. It’s my way to get my forest-bathing fix without having to drive too far from home.
Amber Duque (right): I love how vast Stone Mountain Park is, too, and that I keep discovering trails that are new to me even after 20 years of visits. On a lot of those lesser-travelled trails, I do not feel like I am in the suburbs anymore. I feel like I am surrounded by beautiful nature, and that is rejuvenating for me.
Pat Russell: The outdoor spaces that I have loved these past few years have been at Noble Park and Sidney Marcus Park, both in the Morningside neighborhood. The Pandemic Players and the ukulele song circle have played music in both parks during the Covid years. The music brought joy not only to us players and singers, but to the passerbys, too.
Brian Baker: When I peddled my bicycle loaded with camping gear down this stretch of Keencheefoonee Road near Newborn on my way to BRAG Spring Tune up in April 2021, I knew I had to stop for this picture (left). It’s the ideal roadway for cycling. I look at it now and then when I need to be reminded of why I ride.
Nancy Wylie: The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is my favorite place to walk in the woods in Atlanta. While this “string of pearls” has many wonderful spots, because of location I most frequently go to either Cochran Shoals or East Palisades. Cochran Shoals is a wide, flat walk along the river where I walk with friends, and it is easy to talk. There are hills if you want to explore, but the trails tend to be “single track.” East Palisades is mostly hills, and there is an observation deck looking over the “devil’s racecourse” section of the river. I personally am so attached to these because I worked in the late 1970s and early 80s to help establish the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The East Palisades unit was formerly a state park, and I used to go there to enjoy what I was working to protect.
Nicole Haines (right): I am inspired with every visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The human-nature experience that has been cultivated in the urban space is magical. I come away from each visit with renewed creativity and hope.
Jean Woodall: Bull Sluice is a special rapid on the Chattooga River! Whether I am taking a guided trip with a rafting company or simply taking the short walk in to climb on the rocks or swim in the water, I love to step into this wild and scenic spot on the Georgia – South Carolina border near the US 76 bridge, not too far from Clayton. When I got married in 1981, my husband had a summer job cooking for Southeastern Expeditions Outdoor Rafting Company, just a mile from Bull Sluice. We lived in a 10′ x 10′ platform cabin and shared an outdoor shower and other rustic amenities with the rest of the raft guides. The guides showed us many wonderful hiking and water adventures, both in Georgia and just over the line in South and North Carolina. Bull Sluice was the “go to” getaway close by. We could check on the water level measured daily on the bridge to see what kind of an adventure we were up for. At really low water, we could climb out to the middle of the rapid and drop down into a hole that time and water had eroded into the boulders. From this vantage, we could look out a “window” and see kayakers paddle in a stream of water we could touch. At high water (3′ at the bridge), we could only stand or sit way up the bank and watch daring whitewater boaters challenge the waters featured in the film “Deliverance.” It is a Class IV+ rapid during normal flow and an exciting end to the gentler, beautiful rafting or kayaking on Section 2 of the Chattooga. Walk just below the rapid to the sandy beach with calm water or climb on the rocks and jump in the bottom of the rapid, a great playground on a hot summer day. It’s a short hike in from the US 76 bridge parking pavilion.
Parjit Kaur (left): I really enjoy spending a few minutes now and then in my neighborhood “pocket park” right outside my condo building. In the early morning hours, there’s a mistiness to this park, which is very beautiful. There’s one particular sweet gum tree there that I like to hug every time I walk by it. It’s like having a friend in the park! But every time I look at this tree and admire its thick trunk rising straight up into the sky, I wonder when the axe of a developer or DeKalb County might fall on it? It’s a morose thought, but it is based on reality: many 50+ year old trees along this pocket park were cut down recently to widen Cliff Valley Way so that the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta traffic can flow smoothly. I was broken-hearted when it happened. My hope is that this never happens to my special tree!
Sue Certain (right): I love Blue Heron Nature Preserve, which is about two miles from where I live. It is 30 acres of natural woods in the heart of Buckhead, including three miles of hiking trails. I was a community gardener there for nine years. My husband Gordon played an important role in the acquisition of land that became Blue Heron, including a major zoning fight. Blue Heron started out with 15 acres and has gradually grown. It features art and art installations, which is unusual in a park like that.
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YOU’RE INVITED: The Climate Action Team extends a radical welcome to activists, contemplatives, readers, meditators, questioners, tree hugging hippies, scientists, policy wonks, radicals, pacifists, nature enthusiasts, and all who seek community as we navigate our changing times together. Learn all about the group here, and check out our lending library of over 100 titles and Carbon Offset Fund grant opportunity. Contact Nicole Haines to connect to the CAT and join us for our next monthly meeting on June 19!