This article appears in the May issue of 400 Life.
When you think back at this summer, when fall and winter comes back around next year, what would you want it to look like? Two months of sitting inside watching daytime TV and waiting for your grass to grow? Or would you want it to be a summer season full of excitement, adventure and fun, that anyone of any age can participate in? For this summer season, we at the Forsyth County News have devised a summer bucket list of essential Forsyth County activities to get you out of the house and into the community while the weather is warm and nice.
I cannot express in words how nice it is to have Sawnee Mountain conveniently located right in our county’s backyard.
On any given day of the week, a resident of Forsyth County can be at a beautiful network of trails in minutes, thanks to the Sawnee Mountain Preserve.
I make this item top of the list, because no matter if you’ve never been to see Sawnee Mountain, or if you’ve been there countless times, visiting the mountain for a hike or a picnic this summer should be one of your top priorities.
From the peak of Sawnee Mountain, you’ll be rewarded with a view over the Forsyth County countryside and beyond to the Blue Ridge Mountains, well worth the short but brisk hike up.
The Sawnee Mountain Preserve offers 11 miles of trails, perfect for a hike, run or even just a leisurely stroll past views, abandoned gold mines and signs covering the areas natural and cultural history.
You can also sit on the Indian Seats, a natural rock formation at the top of the trail system.
Note that dogs are not permitted at the preserve, but the park is open from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., March through October, and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. November through February.
The park also includes a climbing tower, zip line, amphitheater, library and a visitors’ center, with classrooms and exhibits on the natural and cultural histories of Sawnee Mountain.
More information on the preserve, its trails and other amenities can be found at parks.forsythco.com/Sawnee-Mountain-Preserve.
Picnic at Lake Lanier
Sitting on the shores of Lake Lanier with some lunch, a cold drink and maybe a book or a rod and reel, you’ll be amazed how quickly the stress of the day slips away.
So this summer, set aside some quality time to visit Lake Lanier to take in the view and maybe go in for a dip if the water is nice.
Between the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department and the Army Corps of Engineers there are parks along the shore of Lake Lanier, with enough camping spots, boat launches, picnic areas and greenspaces, to handle any group or need.
Many of these parks have little or no cost to enter, but each has specific rules and hours of operation that can be found online.
Kayaking the Chattahoochee and Etowah River
On a hot spring or summer day when lake beaches and pools are packed and nothing else is going on, what could be better than floating down a cool river in a canoe or kayak, enjoying nature and getting a little peace of mind?
In my book, not much beats that — so before the summer is through, head on down to the water and do some paddling!
Here in Forsyth County, so close to Buford Dam and Lake Lanier, we’ve got quite a few options of where to go and float your boat, but two of the easiest places to put in are at Chattahoochee Pointe Park in south Forsyth and Eagle’s Beak Park in north Forsyth.
As the name implies, at Chattahoochee Pointe Park you’ll paddle up or down the Chattahoochee River which flows swiftly out of Buford Dam that sits just a few miles upstream.
At Eagle’s Beak Park you can travel up or down the Etowah River that flows south out of Dawson Forest and beyond.
Keep in mind that both rivers have hazards and both water level and speed can vary depending on rainfall and other factors, like the schedule of water releases from Buford Dam, so be sure to check river conditions before getting onto the water. And always wear a life jacket; not only is it required by law, it saves lives.
For more information about these parks, visit the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department online at parks.forsythco.com. For the Buford Dam water release schedule call (770) 945-1466.
Take a swim at the Cumming Aquatic Center
Looking for a fun place to cool off?
Well, luckily for the people of Forsyth County, the Cumming Aquatic Center can help you get your swimming fix even if the weather isn’t great or you don’t have a pool of your own to go to.
The 50,000-square-foot pool facility has indoor and outdoor pools and hosts programing from swim lessons to Silver Sneakers programs, with different availabilities for private bookings of cabanas and activity rooms.
The Aquatic Center has different hours, based on the month, season and federal holidays, but for the majority of the summer it is open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1-6 p.m. Sunday.
Daily admission is $6 for adults and $5 for youth under 17 and seniors, but passes for individuals and families can be bought for between $28 and $277.
More information can be found at cummingaquaticcenter.com.
You know how you can tell good, fresh produce — by picking it out of the ground or off a tree with your own two hands.
So when you find yourself craving fresh, locally-grown strawberries this summer, look no further than Warbington Farms off Crow Road in north Forsyth.
According to the website, each year Warbington plants three acres of “U-Pick” strawberries for people from the local community and beyond to enjoy.
While you’re at the farm, be sure to check out the petting zoo barn, hayride, slides, swings and countless other family-fun opportunities. More information can be found at warbingtonfarms.com.