People have been coming for generations to the 19-county district of West Central Georgia known as the Presidential Pathways region to enjoy its acres of pristine forest and fields, miles of trails, and lakes brimming with fish. Today, adventure-seekers are finding new thrills here, with whitewater rafting, tubing and ziplines on the Chattahoochee River at Columbus.
Stroll, bike or skate on Columbus’s RiverWalk, a 15-mile linear park that parallels the Chattahoochee. Also in Columbus, you’ll find the wildlife trails, wetlands, and natural history exhibits of Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center a relaxing pleasure.
The Chattahoochee River certainly
helps define this region. The river flows into West Point Lake near LaGrange, offering more than
500 miles of shoreline, championship fishing, and other recreational and water
activities. Communities bordered by
the river include Franklin, in Heard County, which offers the paved Old Town Chattahoochee Greenway Trail for bicycling,
walking, running and other non-motorized activities. Heard County’s Riverside Park has boat ramps and
fishing areas in West Point Lake.
Another access point to the Chattahoochee River is Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Newnan, a haven for
paddlers, campers and anglers. A boat ramp provides easy access to the water,
while wooded trails are open for hiking and nature photography.
Set up camp in F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain. This park is a wonderful combination of nature and history, deeply rooted in the historical era of this four-time president who made this area his second home as he sought the restorative waters of nearby Warm Springs to treat his polio. Picnic at Dowdell’s Knob, Roosevelt’s favorite picnic spot, overlooking a magnificent view of the valley below. Hike the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail, which winds through a mix of hardwoods and
pines. There are also horseback riding trails.
Love water sports? Then head to Florence Marina State Park in Omaha, at the northern end of 45,000-acre Lake Walter F. George, with its natural deep-water marina and accessible deep-water fishing pier, boat slips, and boat ramp. Birders are sure to see herons and egrets, and possibly bald eagles. To the east, cool off in the gently flowing Flint River at Sprewell Bluff Park, a little-known gem and great daytime getaway spot. Skip rocks across the water, picnic on the river’s edge, or toss horseshoes in a grassy field. A boat ramp is available for canoeists, kayakers, rafters, and anglers.
Don’t miss awe-inspiring Providence Canyon Outdoor Recreation Area, known as Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon, to enjoy magnificent views of the canyons from the rim trail. Backpackers who head out before 4 p.m. can sleep under the stars along the backcountry trail.
Both F.D. Roosevelt State Park and Providence Canyon Outdoor Recreation Area host occasional “astronomy nights” facilitated by staff at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center in Columbus, so if you schedule a visit during one of these events, you can mingle with others who delight in stargazing.
And you’ll never tire of all the outdoor opportunities at Callaway Gardens,just a few miles from F.D. Roosevelt State Park: trails, golf, swimming, the Day Butterfly Center, and the resort’s TreeTop Adventure zip lining and obstacle course, among others.
flock to this region because our Presidential Pathways includes some of the 30 observation sites
and +260 species of birds on the Southern Rivers Birding Trail whose trail maps and lists are
available at the state’s Visitor Information Centers.