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

 

Southern Highlights: Foster Falls Small Wild Area

At last the steady, warm temperatures of spring have arrived!  I don’t know about you, but when the weather is nice, it is so difficult to keep me indoors.

Recently we were able to take a trip home to Dad and Mom’s house in Tennessee.  My parents live in an amazingly beautiful area in the Cumberland Mountain region and we love to take advantage of gorgeous days; looking for fun and adventure whenever we are in town.  This last trip found us venturing off to Foster Falls Small Wild Area for a little hiking.  Foster Falls is in Marion County, about a 40 minutes drive west of Chattanooga.  It is a part of the South Cumberland State Park area which also includes Grundy Lakes and the old coke ovens we visited last spring. 

Foster Falls1

Foster Falls is not a new area to us at all as we have camped (mostly primitive camping) there several times over the years and my kids frequent the area when they are with their grands.  While the camping is nice, Foster Falls is well-known for its hiking, especially its climbing, and of course a gorgeous 60 ft water fall.

View from the overlook

View from the overlook

Foster Falls6

Rushing water leading to the falls

Rushing water leading to the falls

Hiking around the falls is available for all levels, from the casual to the endurance hiker.  We enjoy the trail down to the base of the falls, which is not difficult, but can be rocky as well as slippery if there has been a lot of rain.  It’s about a 15-20 minute hike down to the falls.

We were casual hikers, just out to enjoy the spring weather on the day that we visited Foster Falls

We were casual hikers, just out to enjoy the spring weather on the day that we visited Foster Falls

Foster Falls Bridge

Bridge leading to the base of the falls after the 15 minute hike down

Glimpse of the falls through the trees

Glimpse of the falls through the trees

At the base there are other trails as well as a deep pool that is so cold even in the summer!

Normally the pool is emerald green, but the southern spring rains had the pool looking a little murkey.

Normally the pool is emerald-green, but the southern spring rains had the pool looking a little murky.

Longer hikes include trails that eventually lead you to the portion of South Cumberland State Park known as the Fiery Gizzard trail (12.5 miles one way) and is a very popular trail to hike!

View across the South Cumberland Mountain area  from the top of Foster Falls

View across the South Cumberland Mountain area from the top of Foster Falls

The trail leading to the Fiery Gizzard goes along the side of this creek

The trail leading to the Fiery Gizzard goes along the side of this creek

Climbing is the same way.  My kids did a little free-climbing while we were there, but we have brought gear before for attempting some serious climbing!  The area is actually known to be a prime destination for serious climbers in the Southeast!

Free Climbing at Foster Falls

Free Climbing at Foster Falls2

Pack a picnic, bring plenty of water, and plan to spend the day if you come out.  There is much for you to enjoy!  Foster Falls is dog friendly and you will encounter many along the trails.  Leashes are a must, and remember to bring baggies to clean up after your pet.

Our sweet little Corgi enjoyed her outdoor adventure ... except for the mud.

Our sweet little Corgi enjoyed her outdoor adventure … except for the mud.

If you don’t camp, lodging is available in both Kimball, Tennessee down in the valley, and in Monteagle , Tennessee on the top of the mountain near the main entrance to South Cumberland State Park. Plan for several days to soak up nature and history all around the roughly 25,000 acres that comprise this state park system.

Foster Falls is so peaceful and gorgeous

Foster Falls is so peaceful and gorgeous

Inquiring minds want to know:  What do you like to do when the season begins to change and warm up?

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Fit Friday: Healthy Travel

While in Hawaii for our anniversary, Audley and I made it a point to stay on a fairly healthy track.  It’s funny, but I often find it easier to stay focused while traveling than when I am a home and work.  This isn’t to say we didn’t indulge while in Hawaii (I had a couple of amazing desserts), but I did lose three pounds during the week just because we chose activities to fit our healthy lifestyle.

So how do you manage to stay fit and on target while traveling?

First, chose locations/activities that fit your lifestyle, not work against it.  I enjoy relaxing on the beach more than anyone, but why waste away 8 days of vacation laying on the beach or beside a pool?!  There is a whole world to see and enjoy…. check it out!

Which way do we go?

Which way do we go?

Second, prepare for obstacles.  We knew before going breakfast at the hotel was expensive ($40 breakfast buffet…. no thank you).

Local fresh fruit makes a fabulous choice for breakfast!

Local fresh fruit makes a fabulous choice for breakfast!

We did enjoy a large breakfast one morning, but for the most part fresh fruit and protein bars served a loyal meal for us.  I prefer Quest Bars when using protein bars in my nutrition plan.  These were convenient, easy to travel with by plane and great to have on hand for the morning as well as when we were out during the day.  We packed an insulated cooler bag (carried it over in my suitcase) that was easy to stock with apple, oranges, & natural peanut butter for snacking.

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I LOVE this fabulous insulated cooler bag that I ordered from Miss Lucy’s Monograms just for this trip! It fit perfectly in my suitcase for flying and served as a wonderful tote for healthy snacks whether we were at the pool, traveling in the car or hiking. You can order one as well from Miss Lucy’s Monograms. They have fabulous options!

Third….. HYDRATE!  I know water is expensive when you have to purchase it at a hotel or from a convenience store.  One of our first stops when we rented our car was at a grocery store.  There we purchased a bag of ice, a foam cooler and a case of water.  We were set for a couple of days and it saved a lot of money.

Fourth, don’t indulge every day.  I knew staying the Doubletree Hotel on Oahu meant fresh & warm chocolate chip cookies waiting on us when we arrived.  I saved a little cheat for them.  We also chose a fabulous chocolate mousse for our anniversary dessert and on another night had a lovely banana spilt.  BUT, it wasn’t everyday and knowing dessert was on our agenda I ate a healthy dinner and splurged at the end.  Also, Audley and I spilt every dessert.  Sharing allows you to enjoy a taste without completely overdoing it.  Just know, it’s perfectly alright to skip dessert.

Fifth, skip the bread basket.  I know, we all love piping hot bread spread with creamy butter, but seriously ask the waitperson not to bring it to the table.  There are far better choice that won’t affect your waistline to nosh on prior to supper.  Try ordering a shrimp cocktail, hummus and veggies, or even a crisp, green salad with vinegar & olive oil for dressing.

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A light appetizer Audley and I split before supper; he claimed the oysters, I enjoyed and fresh pacific shrimp and we shared the Limu Poke (ahi tuna and avocado)

Sixth, incorporate fit activities into your schedule.  We hiked at Volcanos National Park as well as Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park on the Big Island.

Hiking

Hiking Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park …. It was so hot this day, but the hike took us past gorgeous ocean views and seeing my first sea turtle up close.

Hiking at Volcano's National Park ....

Hiking at Volcano’s National Park …. Seeing such huge waves crash against the cliffs was unforgettable

On Oahu we did a little more sightseeing in touristy areas like the Arizona Memorial, Punchbowl cemetery and the Polynesian Cultural Center, but we walked a lot on those days and definitely ate lighter meals.

Make you own itinerary.... riding a bus all day does nothing for you whereas walking the Punchbowl you can soak it all in. Very powerful and heart wrenching, but worth your time.

Make you own itinerary…. riding a bus all day does nothing for you whereas walking the Punchbowl you can soak it all in. Very powerful and heart wrenching, but worth your time.

 We did swim a couple of times, but saved most of these laps for the evenings. The night swims in the pool were especially wonderful after supper and kept our bellies from feeling so full at bedtime.

And finally, don’t be afraid to walk!  The Hilton resort had a tram and boat for transportation around the area, but only used it when the occasion called for it (I wasn’t walking over a mile to supper in a pair of heels!).  Besides, if we had ridden the tram all week, we would have missed out on some lovely art and history lessons (and entertainment from Audley) scattered throughout the resort halls.  We averaged 6-7 miles everyday walking, not counting some of our hiking…… perfect for not gaining weight while on vacation!

Oh the things we would've missed if we had ridden the tram everywhere!

Oh the things we would’ve missed if we had ridden the tram everywhere!

Take advantage of every fit opportunity you have and make your next vacation one of the healthiest you’ve ever enjoyed!

FitFriday

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Beautiful Stone Mountain Georgia

When I was a little girl we used to sing a song in Bible class that went something like “Climb, climb up sunshine mountain, heavenly breezes blow…”
When we visited Stone Mountain, Georgia a few weeks back I think I sang those words over and over as we climbed the mountain with our kids.
Audley kept singing Alabama’s “Mountain Man”.

We are all a little crazy.

One side of Stone Mountain holds the famed carving of the 3 of the Confederacy’s heroes; Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E Lee.It’s the largest carving of it’s type in the world.

{You know us Southerners, we may have lost the war, but we are proud of our heritage.}

Anyway, the other side of the mountain is the walk-up trail that we took.

The famed carving on the side of Stone Mountain:  Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson & Robert E. Lee.  It’s the size of TWO & 1/4 football fields!

Before I get to climbing the mountain, let me assure you, there is so much more to Stone Mountain than just a climb, so a visit is well worth your time.  First is the quaint historic village of Stone Mountain Georgia with shops and restaurants to enjoy.  As for the park itself, there is golf, museums, riverboat & train rides, ropes course, antique car museum an interactive play area, antebellum mansion, water park, tram and so many other things that you can do, creating a vacation that would last for several days.And if you like history, there is plenty of it to be found here!

Stone Mountain with it’s carving was originally envisioned by the Daughter’s of the Confederacy in 1916 as a memorial to the South.  The project took a lot longer than envisioned as the original artist abandoned the project in 1925,  then the family that owned the property actually forbid any more work on the the project, leaving the sculpture unfinished.  It sat unfinished through the depression and WWII, until the state of Georgia purchased the land (in the 1950’s) to turn into a park and hired two other artists to finish the work during the 1960’s.

While there is some past dark history surrounding the mountain, the carving was not made to encourage it. People (especially the family who owned the property at the time) took advantage of a memorial situation.  Stone Mountain has also played a role in many different unique ways in our country.  Granite originally mined from Stone Mountain was used in the foundation of the Georgia Capitol building, the steps of the east wing of the U.S. Capitol, the dome of the Federal Gold Depository at Fort Knox and the locks of the Panama Canal.  

Stone Mountain was also a destination for young couples on dates even as far back as the 1800’s.  They would ride on horseback for a day of hiking and picnicking.  In 1838 there was a wooden observation tower built at the summit for people to enjoy the views from the top.


So climbing this mountain is not a new thing! 
General admission to the park for a couple of the museums, hiking the area, picnicking, and watching a fabulous laser show on the side of the mountain after dark is only $10 per vehicle.  Each of the other available activities to do have their own price and I was feeling rather cheap the day we visited.
{I can be that way sometimes.}
We really only had a few hours, so climbing the mountain was our main goal anyway.
I grew up climbing Stone Mountain at least once a year, since we lived just outside of Atlanta.  At the time all the park consisted of was the train ride & tram, antebellum mansion, a couple of museums, the golf course (which has been been upgraded) and naturally the mountain climb and the laser show added when I was in the 9th grade.
{I feel old now.}
Audley and I took our kids about twelve years ago and climbed it.  I was already on my way to gaining tons of weight (well, I was clinging to baby weight …. for 13 years!) so it was not a very enjoyable day for me.
When I put together my Fit Girl Bucket List a while back I added this as a test to see how far I had come.
At the start point of our climb with my girls.
This time I planned our little climbing adventure and was really looking forward to it.  We couldn’t have picked a better day to climb the mountain.  It was mostly sunny with a few clouds, not too hot although that Southern humidity was weighing heavily in the air & when we got to the top of the mountain there was an amazing breeze!
My kiddos ready to roll!
The United Daughters of the Confederacy flag terrace at the base of the mountain.

The actual climb up the mountain is one mile.  Sounds easy enough, but it has been a challenge before. I was super excited just to see how much I’ve changed over the years!

The rocky hike up

And it is a very steep climb at some points which is why many people will take the tram to the top & maybe walk back down.

Believe me, I thought about it.

But, I didn’t.

The views of from the top of Stone Mountain are breathtaking.

Downtown Atlanta from the top of Stone Mountain
At the top after our climb.
That’s Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in the background

And this once very unhealthy woman climbed right up the mountain making very good time (for me) …. about 20 minutes. Besides being REALLY thirsty when we reached the top, I felt great!

{There is a snack bar with plenty to drink once you get to the top!}

This was a really huge deal for me!

Enjoying the views with my Audley
It’s amazing the little things you find on top of a granite rock…..
So full of spirit and adventure!

After the hike back down we really enjoyed a fun supper picnic.

Do you really expect them all to be serious & paying attention?!

Like I mentioned earlier, there is so much more to do than climb the mountain (they have some pretty good homemade fudge as well).  If you are planning a day trip (& you live in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, or South Carolina), this is a perfect one for you!

You are only 15 miles from downtown Atlanta, so it also makes for a great two or three day get-away You’ll love being close to Six Flags, the Atlanta Braves, the Georgia aquarium, lots of great shopping, & a little fun local history in Marietta that you won’t be bored!