Outdoor Activities Abound in Athens
PHOTO CREDIT: Ian Curcio
Athens has an attitude, there’s no doubt about it. With a year-round mild climate, beautiful natural countryside and a focus on healthy living, folks in Athens just naturally seem to love being active. One of the first things you notice is that it’s a pedestrian-friendly place, and it’s well-known for biking, hiking, golfing and riding the rivers. And you don’t even have to get out of town to get active. With the Oconee River running right through town, there are plenty of green spaces to ride, run, roll or just take Rover out for a stroll. The North Oconee River Greenway is a popular riverside 3.5-mile long park that connects the Sandy Creek Nature Center with the University of Georgia and is open to all non-motorized users. Right in the heart of the university is the Oconee Forest Park, a 60-acre natural area with walking and mountain biking trails, a 15-acre lake and a Tree Trail. The university also features the public University of Georgia Golf Course and there are also numerous private courses around. Bicycle culture is big in Athens, and Bike Athens wants to make it even bigger. The group supports activities and events such as bicycle recycling programs, Safe Route Athens, Bike to Work Day and the popular monthly Courteous Mass rides, where a large group of cyclists ride around town to promote better bike facilities and safer traffic conditions. Each spring, the Twilight Series bicycle races are a huge event with amateur and professional races and the highlight of the weekend, the Twilight Criterium professional race downtown. On a different kind of wheels, teens love to hang out at the Skatepark of Athens, which was part of Tony Hawk’s Secret Skatepark Tour in 2005. And for the even younger set, nothing beats the World of Wonder Community Playground, with almost two acres of playground space built by 1,500 volunteers. With castle towers, mazes, slides, swings, bridges, tunnels, climbing walls, gardens and art, children of all ages are sure to get lost in this magical place of play. And you might say the same thing about all of Athens.