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“This Hike take you along the Western Bank of Lake Walter F. George.”
— Steven Sanders
During hunting season the woods are utilized by a few permitted bow hunters and while the chances are remote that you'll come across one once gun season comes in it is advisable that you take the time to drive along the road adjacent to the trail looking for vehicles parked at its many entrances before taking off along the trail. As of this writing the trail is not closed to hikers during the hunting season but common curtesy will go along way towards ensuring it wont become closed.
Taking you from the convenience of Highland Park that provides picnic sites, pavilion, fishing pier, and swimming area. The trail is a fairly easy walk with a little bit of trail blazing between the park trail and the equestrian trail on the other side of the two small ponds separated from the main lake by small land bridges. This hike is one manageable by the entire family.
This area draws in an abundance of wildlife to include bald eagles, ospreys, ducks, loons, alligators, and deer. The trail terminates above the Walter F George Dam at the old West Bank overlook where you can get some of the best views the area has to offer.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — Lake — Spring — Swimming — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Need to Know
The parking/usage at the park is $5.00/day or $35.00/year, if you choose to utilize the park. You can park at the South entrance of the trails near the intersection of County Road 97 and 46 and its free. Just remember this small fees help keep these areas open to the public.
While this trail is easily walked and always close to a means of exit, I would recommend that hikers bring along a basic daypack with basic first aide supplies and a means of hydration. I don't expect that anyone will need to filter or prepare water along the trail unless you are training for a long hike but there are several opportunities to access cold water springs just off the trail in many places.
The hike starts out on a well managed foot path that is wide enough for groups to socialize and enjoy the outdoors. The beginning of the trail is equipped with benches and garbage cans that help those just looking for a short walk plenty of places to rest and enjoy the scenery.
As you reach the last bench that overlooks the lake you'll drop down onto the beach and walk South along the shore. As you reach the first of the small land bridges your will immediately begin to see some spectacular wildlife scenes to include nesting Bald Eagles on the far side of the pond as well as Ospreys that come through the area and have nesting sites nearby. In and around the pond don't be surprised to see alligators and various species of water snakes eager to be in your next wildlife photograph.
After crossing the land bridge you'll have to pickup any number of wildlife trails that skirt the edge of the lake and bring you along the high banks of the lake for a rugged by easily managed hike. Eventually the trails will bring you to a small bank ( about 10-12 feet) that you'll have to climb down. This will drop you onto the second small land bridge where you'll again have the opportunity for observing wildlife including deer, fox, various birds of prey, and the occasional duck, or goose.
After crossing you'll then join the equestrian trail on the South side of the inlet. There you'll walk until you reach an intersection. Continuing straight will take you back out to the main road but hanging a left will take you up the hill to the high banks overlooking the lake. Along the way you'll pass several small fields planted in forage where you are likely to spot deer and other wildlife.
Once you exit into the old park you'll find an area perfect for a quiet picnic or resting area. Follow the road around to the left and you'll find another trail entrance that will take you over to the high voltage lines at the dam. There you'll have an excellence view of the lake and the terminus of the Appalachian foothills.
After walking back to the old park you'll have the option to follow the road Westward back to the main road or double back and hit the side trail about 200 yards back down the trail where you'll sink onto a pine forest that has an easy trail that leads to two open areas where birds and wildlife are certain to be hanging around.
Once you reach the bottom of the second field you'll have a small and easily managed wet area that crossed the trail. After crossing the area you'll find yourself back near the main road. Hold to the left and you'll go back to the two land bridges and back to the park where a refreshing swim and a cool slice of watermelon awaits.
Flora & Fauna
The trail is mostly wooded and it scattered with an abundance of flowers and trees. In some places there are a few Trilliums that only grow in this area of the Southeast.