If you’re like me, you’re tired of winter and want to get outside. But the weather continues to present challenges. It’s always either too cold or too rainy or both…and the rare day when the stars align and conditions are good always seems to be a day when some urgent chore has to be done.
Still, spring is coming (is it too early to say that?) and this too shall pass. And when it does, the fine folks at Georgia’s state parks hope you’ll remember four great state park “Club Challenges” designed to encourage you to get outside and enjoy those spring days. Is it too early to plan for spring? Not at all — and it’s a lot more fun than chores!
“But wait!” you ask. “What’s a Club Challenge?”
I’m glad you asked!
Georgia State Parks’ Club Challenges are just the thing to motivate you to get out of the house and have some outdoor fun. Whether you like hiking, biking, paddling, or exploring a trail with your dog, these challenges encourage you to pursue your passion at state parks all across the state.
Here’s how it works. Four different “clubs” focus on four different aspects of outdoor recreation. Membership in each club is only $15, which includes a really neat T-shirt that’s perfect to wear while you’re exploring and adventuring. Each club challenges you to complete a set of themed activities, and when you are done you earn not only bragging rights but also a certificate of completion. There’s no time limit to complete these adventures, either, so you can make it happen at your own pace.
Here’s a look at the four Club Challenges and what each one involves. You can get more info, and also purchase a membership in one of the clubs, by visiting GaStateParks.org/ParkClubs.
Canyon Climbers Club
Like to climb up and down stairs and trails? Then this is the club for you! It challenges you to complete four climbing-themed adventures — hiking to the top of Amicalola Falls, braving the suspension bridge in Tallulah Gorge, conquering the staircase (it only seems endless) at Cloudland Canyon, and venturing into the bottom of Providence Canyon. The first three are in northern Georgia, while Providence Canyon takes you into the southwest part of the state. Each offers an unforgettable adventure, and all you’ll need to make it happen is a set of hiking boots.
Get more details at GaStateParks.org/CanyonClimbersClub
Park Paddlers Club
Climbing canyons is fun! But if paddling a canoe or kayak is more your cup of tea, they’ve got you covered there too with the Park Paddlers Club. The challenge here is to make at least 12 paddling excursions on a river, pond or lake in one of Georgia’s state parks. There are more than 30 different paddling opportunities to choose from, and they’re located all over the state. Many of these sites offer rental canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards — some even offer guided paddle excursions — and of course you can take your own boat, too. Whether you’re new to paddling or are a veteran at the sport, you’re sure to enjoy time on the water at one of Georgia’s state parks.
For a list of paddling sites or to get more info, visit GaStateParks.org/ParkPaddlersClub
Muddy Spokes Club
A couple of years ago, my kids gave me a bike for Christmas. It’s one of those models designed to work not only on paved pathways but also on unpaved mountain bike-type trails, and the Muddy Spokes Club just may be the incentive I need to get it off the pavement and out into the woods. This club challenges you to tackle bike trails at any 12 of some 20 different state parks. Some of the rides are easy; others are a bit more challenging. But all should be a huge amount of fun. Who knows? You might even see me out there too — I’ll be the guy who’s huffing and puffing up the hills, but I’m hanging in there!
For more details and a list of locations, visit GaStateParks.org/MuddySpokesClub
Tails on Trails Club
Ellie, as you know, is our resident Miniature Schnauzer — and when she saw that I’m writing about Georgia’s state park clubs, she insisted that I give prominent play to the Tails on Trails Club. “What’s not to love?” she reminded me. “All you people have to do to earn the certificate is to take faithful pups like me hiking on any 12 dog-friendly state park trails.” There are more than 40 such trails to choose from, she continued, adding that they’re located all over the state. “And when you join this club, not only do you get that neat T-shirt for yourself but you also get a spiffy dog bandana for me!”
More info and list of trails awaits you at GaStateParks.org/TailsonTrailsClub.