Hiking Providence Canyon State Park

I often hear people complain how hard it is to lose weight.

Let me tell you, losing 100 pounds was easy!

What’s actually hard is maintaining weight loss and not slipping back into ages old habits! It’s so easy to have a cheat meal here or there that becomes weeks of poor nutrition, to become disillusioned or bored with the gym, discover a new series on Netflix, or decide to take a little break because we can just jump right back in.

Believe me, I struggle with this a lot, and since moving to Atlanta two years ago it’s been a continual struggle as I emotionally ate my way through the move, MacKenzie’s wedding, Bradley’s enlistment, and now sheer boredom and loneliness has become my worst enemy. Thankfully I have an amazing husband who has dove into his own fitness journey and is now my “let’s get off the couch” motivator.

hiking Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

My handsome Spartan running motivator.

For the first time in years Audley is working 40 hours a week… a Monday-Thursday schedule. It’s so nice, but it didn’t take long for us to go stir crazy in the house on his off days. While scrolling through Instagram one day I saw pictures of this gorgeous location right here in Georgia; Providence Canyon.

Providence Canyon State Park / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

We decided to take a short road trip and get our rear ends off the sofa and away from the pantry.

Located about 2 1/2 hours south of Atlanta, Providence Canyon is actually the result of poor farming practices 200 years ago (many lessons learned), but it’s also a beautiful location for picnicking, exploring, and photographing.

in the base of Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

The stunning red, white, purple and pink sandstone walls that form the canyon might have you thinking you’ve gone out west, but I promise, you’re still in the South!

The canyon makes a gorgeous backdrop for hiking and exploring.

Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Hiking Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

There are roughly 10 miles of trails you can hike throughout the beautiful canyon. These various hikes range from easy to moderate in difficulty. Choose wisely for your level of fitness and health.  Each can take a couple of hours to five or more. You’ll be amazed at the different scenery as you wander through the canyon. One minute you’re in a lush forest and the next sandy desert. It’s a beautiful result from costly mistakes generations ago.

Overlooking Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Providence Canyon Wooded Trails / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

When hiking Providence Canyon you need to prepare accordingly. First, this is a state park, so there is a $5 fee to park. If you purchase a Georgia State Parks pass you can find all kinds of adventures throughout the state and only pay once! While strolling around the top of the canyon is relaxing and easy, going into the canyon is a little different. The grounds throughout the area are sandy and wet. Trails take you down and up hills, through forest areas and into various rocky fingers of the many canyons. Wear appropriate shoes for these trails; shoes made for hiking and that you don’t mind getting muddy and wet are best. Smalls steams of water flow all through the canyon floor. You also need water for drinking. Once down in the canyon there are no bathrooms or water fountains. We packed a small backpack with bottles of water.

And don’t forget bug repellant.  Mosquitos love wetlands.

Hiking Necessities / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Our lightweight Kavu bag holds several bottles of water and snack packs of nuts for a trail hike. Audley is partial to his Salomon trail shoes, and I love my Merrells. Shop for hiking/trail shoes that fit your feet well and work for various weekend adventures. Protecting your feet is so important if you are going to hike!

Hike Providence Canyon / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Dress comfortably for your hike. I wore leggings and a tee-shirt even-though it’s hot, just because of their water wicking ability. You don’t want blisters on your thighs from hiking and sweat rolling down your legs. It is NOT comfortable. Wearing pants also leaves less places for mosquitos to nail ya.

There is a longer hike through the canyon that you will need to pack snacks as well as extra water to take as it is pretty long. We plan to go back and do that one in the fall.

Canyon Floor at Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

img_6459canyon bottom at Providence Canyon / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Nature at Providence Canyon / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Providence Canyon Lumpkin, GA / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Audley and I hiked over five miles in and around the canyon, then enjoyed a yummy picnic up on the rim.

Providence Canyon Picnic / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Providence Canyon was one time a thriving town. Remnants can be found throughout the park including an old wooden Methodist church building and cemetery dating back to the mid-1800’s. There are also old rusted out cars along the trail up to, but we didn’t explore that area to see them. We will definitely add that to our hike in the fall.

Providence Mothodist Church / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Providence Cemetery / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Cemetery at Providence Canyon / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Providnce Canyon Cemetery / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Methodist Church Building / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

If you are looking for a quick weekend adventure and an opportunity to get off the couch, a trip to Providence Canyon is definitely worth making! I won’t say hiking is a way to lose weight, but it’s a great way to explore where you live (statewide or regionally), get in some fresh air, and get moving!

Being sedentary is hazardous to your health.

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Hooray for gorgeous days and beautiful places!!!

Enjoy the views and let me know what you think!

Looking down onto Providence Canyon Trails / Oh FIddle Dee Dee

Providence Canyon State Park

8930 Canyon Road
Lumpkin, GA 31815
Stewart County

 

Georgia Backroads: BJ Reece Orchard

After a long, hot summer, autumn is the perfect opportunity to venture outdoors and enjoy the cooler temperatures.  Of course here in the South it just means it’s 90 degrees instead of 98, but we still look forward to the seasons change.  Throughout our marriage Audley and I have found many things to do to enjoy the fall and relish a little us time.  From hayrides and pumpkin patches to NASCAR races, the fall is our favorite season to venture out for time outdoors.  We hit the road this last weekend with a road trip on some of Georgia’s backroads into the North Georgia mountians and an apple orchard for a little apple picking!

While we’ve visited apple orchards over the years, this was the first time either of us had ever actually picked apples!  We couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful day, and to top it off, Granny Smith apples are in season!

BJ Reece Apple House & Orchards are located off of Hwy 52 in Elijay, just a two hour drive from Atlanta.

Little did we know apple picking was such a popular activity as the orchard was very busy.  Since I’m planning several things to do with my apples, we paid our $5 admission and then paid for the large bags for apple picking where most everyone else seemed to be there for the novelty and the extra activities around the orchard for the family…. not that there is anything wrong with that!

Finding the best apples was a challenge and like an egg hunt as we are a month into apple season, so many of the trees have been picked over!  Using the map of the orchard, we found a group of Granny Smith trees that had not been hit as hard, and loaded our first bag.  Besides snacking, I love to cook with these tart apples.  We also gathered Golden Delcious apples and Rome Beauties.  Using a variety of apple flavors (tart, sweet, etc,,,) makes cooking with them so delicious.

Strolling through the maze of apple trees, guessing varieties while we walked along was really enjoyable as we were able to talk and take pleasure in each other’s company without the interruptions of work and home. Cell service is spotty, so there were no interruptions from our grown kids either!  It’s outage season in the power plant construction industry, so any time we have to ourselves is treasured and very valuable.  Audley was able to leave work behind as we laughed and even acted silly as we picked apples. These are the moments we value and have helped keep our marriage of 23 years strong.

There were several family related activities around the farm from a zipline over the apple orchard to pig racing, but since we were on a date, we chose to skip those things.

Before you plan a trip to an orchard in the fall, remember a coupe of things:

{There were quite a few things I observed}

**Prepare for it to be busy and be patient,  Apple picking is a novelity and many parents bring their kids out to participate which can make for a little chaos.  There will be a line to get into the orchard as well as to check out in the Apple House.  Be kind and patient; it’ll make the day go so much more smoothly.

**Pick only the apples that are in season.  You can always call ahead to make sure your favorite apples are ready so that you don;t arrive and find yourself disappointed at the selection.

**Don’t take a bite off of an apple and then throw it down; this goes for your children as well.  I was truly disappointed in the amount of waste we saw. Juicy apples on the ground are a welcome mat for yellow jackets.  They will rot quickly and stink badly.

**Also remember to throw your trash away in the waste receptacles.  No one wants to walk through your mess.  Leave the orchards well kept for people to enjoy for years to come.

**I’ve never been a perfect parent, but there is a certain level of respect you should have for others around you when you are out with your children.  Please keep your kiddos under control as you spend the day at the orchard.  It’s not your personal backyard, a playground in a park, or even a zoo.  Children running wide open can cause calamity as older people also visit the orchard; it would be horrible for someone to fall because your kids are fighting or running willy nilly!

**Oh yeah, one last thing…. if there is a sign that says don’t use any ladders you might find in the orchard, it might be a good idea to keep that in mind, especially if you are wearing white jeans.

{Not that I would ever break a rule!}

While Audley and I really had fun together, if you are wanting a date without squealing, screaming and even crying children, a weekend date at the orchard may not be for you.  But, if you are pretty good at savoring any and all any activities as a couple, you’ll enjoy the orchard as much as we did!

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Take A Backroad

Audley had a Saturday off work this past weekend, so we tossed some water bottles (and the camera) in our vehicle and hit the backroads through North Georgia for a little autumn adventure. Driving up through Dawsonville and into Ellijay we discovered fall in Georgia, even if it is still 90° outside!!

Take A Backroad /

Y’all, driving the backroads takes an open mind and clear eyes or you will miss so much!

Fausett Farms Sunflower Field / Fiddle Dee Dee

Just outside of Dawsonville, on the Elliott Family Parkway, was nestled a little sunflower farm. If you are cruising along with only one destination on your mind you’ll miss this sweet little stop, but if you’re savoring the beautiful drive towards the mountains you can’t miss it!

Audley pulled off into the small parking lot (paid $10 for our car) and off we strolled through the Fausett Farms Sunflower field.

Fausett Farms Sunflowers / Fiddle Dee Dee

Saturday was just gorgeous, with all the sunflowers opened and turned to worship the sun. We strolled through the readymade trails of the field holding hands and just taking time to enjoy this simple moment. It really was nice to be away from the city and slow down!

Fausett Farms Autumn Sunflowers / Fiddle Dee DeeSunflower Farm /Fiddle Dee Dee

We were not alone, but it seemed that all who were strolling through the field except for the one family with screaming kids who had zero desire to pose for pictures were enjoying the laid back country atmosphere.

Autumn Scenes / Fiddle Dee Deedate day fausett farms / fiddle dee dee

Next to the huge sunflower field was a pole barn where we discovered delicious BBQ sandwiches, homemade ice cream, yummy boiled peanuts and fresh local honey.

Georgia Local Honey / Fiddle Dee Dee

{I’m totally a sucker for local honey}

Now THAT’S a pot of boiled peanuts!!

Fausett Farms isn’t a carnival or a huge tourist attraction, it’s a simple little homegrown sunflower field on a Georgia backroad that begs you to slow down and stop to smell the sunflowers.

Dawsonville Georgia Fausett Farms Sunflowers / Fiddle Dee Dee

Just think, if we drove the backroads like we drive 285 around Atlanta we would have missed all of this beauty and peacefulness.

So often in life we tend to stay on the main roads because it’s easier. We miss so much when we take the easy route. Hitting the backroads reminds us to slow down and take in the heart of our country, and in the process slow down and savor the little moments in our own personal relationships.

Happy Fall Y’all! Slow down and take the time to savor every moment.

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Georgia Backroads: Watson Mill Bridge State Park

Audley and I have been making plans for weekend adventures this summer since it’s mostly just the two of us.  Unfortunately there are people who were not blessed with the gift of common sense who insist on bending the rules, so Audley doesn’t always get the days off he is expecting.  The plus side to this is he always has a job when it comes to construction safety which has now run into most of our weekends.

Being ever the spontaneous people that we are, we turned our recent two days of plans into just one as we threw our empty picnic basket and a blanket into the car, made a stop at The Fresh Market, and continued with a road trip heading up Hwy 78 through Athens, Georgia to a sweet little state park.

Now, when most people think of Georgia, the traffic bogged city of Atlanta filled with people that do not know how to savor the simple things, who would rather run over you than accommodate you, mostly ignore you rather than speak, where people seem so angry and bitter and a town that seems to have forgotten its southern graces immediately comes to mind.

Y’all, I spent most of my youth here, and Southern charm and hospitality are not what comes to mind when I think of Atlanta these days!

Truth is, there is so much more to Georgia than Atlanta and it’s metro counties, and you don’t have to venture too far away to discover it! Just hit those Georgia backroads and start exploring!

Just two hours northeast of the city are beautiful farms and quaint little towns.  This is Georgia.  It is here you can escape the hustle and bustle of Atlanta and where you will find Watson Mill Bridge State Park; a 1018 acre park in Comer, Georgia.

Watson-Mill-Bridge-State-Park-Entrance

Watson-Mill-Bridge-State-Park-Historic-Marker

When Audley and I arrived at the park it was so peaceful and quiet, a true break from the craziness of metro-Atlanta!  The park attendant was probably one of the friendliest I’ve ever encountered and was eager to share this historic and picturesque piece of Georgia with us.

{Small towns y’all; that’s where that Southern hospitality thrives!}

Watson-Mill-Bridge-Falls

Watson-Mill-Covered-Bridge

Watson Mill Bridge State Park is home the longest covered bridge in the state of Georgia, a bridge that spans 229 feet across the South Fork of the Broad River in 1885.  It’s one of twenty covered bridges left in Georgia, but unlike the majority of the remainder, this one sits in its original location.  The bridge is well maintained and you can walk or drive across it.  It is truly a beautiful setting!

Watson-Mill-Bridge-established 1885

According to the Georgia State Parks website the bridge was built in 1885 by Washington (W.W.) King, the son of freed slave and famous covered-bridge builder Horace King.  It is supported by a “town lattice truss system held firmly together with wooden pins.”  Originally there was a mill in the area, but there are no signs of it remaining.

Watson-Mill Bridge-2

Although the park is small there is plenty to do for a relaxing day away from the city.  If you are into camping, there are sites available for both tent and RV camping.  Hiking is relatively easy as you can walk down to the old power house built in 1905, but long since abandoned.   There are also trails for riding bikes and horseback riding as well.  There is a stable for boarding, but you have to bring your own horses though.

Watson-Mill-Falls

We watched families and adults alike play on the rocks and in the water of the falls.  We even witnessed a baptism!  For the kiddos there is a nice playground, but we stayed away from those areas since the focus of the day was on us without kids. While there are plenty of tables and shelters to picnic,  Audley and I were more than content to throw our blanket down under the trees and enjoy the beauty of the falls and the covered bridge away from the small crowds that were arriving as the morning turned into afternoon.

empty-nesters

Picnic-Basket

Romantic-Picnic

picnicking

There is also the option to rent kayaks and canoes, or you can bring your own and put in above the covered bridge.  Rental for the park owned canoes and kayaks is just $10 for an hour and they do provide life jackets.

canoes-watson-mill-bridge-state-park

Audley and I rented one of the canoes and had the upper branch of the river to ourselves for paddling.  It was quite lovely, peaceful, and quiet enough to hear so many different sounds of nature the city tends to mask!

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paddling-south-fork-broad-river

Paddling-Watson-Mill-Bridge-State-Park

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We truly enjoyed this piece of Georgia and Audley has already decided a weekend camping here is just what we need …. when this heat and humidity lay off!

Oh my it’s hot down here y’all!

river-life

Sometimes you just have to sit back and let someone else do the paddling!

If you are looking to escape the city or just want to discover some of Georgia’s backroads definitely add Watson Mill Bridge State Park to your agenda.

Watson Mill Bridge State Park

650 Watson Mill Rd, Comer, GA 30629

706-783-5349

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