Tag Archives: Georgia

Ocmulgee National Monument

Overview

Beginning around 1,100 years ago, the Mississippian Culture became the third and final group of mound builders in the eastern U.S.  In contrast to earlier inhabitants at Poverty Point and Effigy Mounds, they were the first to rely heavily on agriculture.  Located in Macon, Georgia, Ocmulgee National Monument is one of many examples of temple mounds from this time period.

Highlights

Indian mounds, museum, film, Opelofa Nature Trail

Must-Do Activity

Artifacts dating back to 8000 BCE can be found in the National Park Service museum.  On your walk to the mounds, stop in the reconstructed 42-foot wide earthlodge.  It was an important meeting place for religious leaders (similar to a great kiva) and offers a glimpse into the Mississippian Culture.  There is also evidence of an English trading post from 1690 and trenches from the Civil War.

Best Trail

Walk from the visitor center, under the railroad tracks, and up the stairs to access the top of the 55-foot tall Great Temple Mound.  Then watch for wildlife along the Opelofa Nature Trail in the Walnut Creek wetlands.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The Mississippian Culture had a complex social hierarchy, with a royal Great Sun who lived atop this flat-topped temple mound and traveled on a canopied litter carried by servants.  When a Great Sun died his people made human sacrifices so he would not enter the afterlife alone. 

Peak Season

Open year round

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/ocmu/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Indian Springs and High Falls State Parks are both about 35 miles from the monument.

Explore More – What was the population of this city in AD1000?

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Overview

The Appalachian Trail (or A.T.) is one of only three National Scenic Trails that the National Park Service (NPS) includes in its total of 417 units, despite there being many other affiliated trails (some with their own Visitor Centers).  The trail stretches 2,185 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine, crossing 14 states, 6 NPS sites, 8 National Forests, and countless other parks.

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Highlights

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Mount Washington State Park, Baxter State Park

Must-Do Activity

Even if just for a short stretch, gets a taste for the A.T. by following the white rectangular blazes going north or south anywhere along its length.  The trail through Newfound Gap in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is especially popular.

Best Trail

The last stretch of the trail ascends Katahdin in Maine’s Baxter State Park.  My impression from the surly park employees is that they would rather not be the official end of the Appalachian Trail.  For instance, they fined record-setting Scott Jurek for public alcohol consumption and littering when he spilled some champagne celebrating his accomplishment atop Katahdin in 2015.  The funny thing about the A.T. is that it ends (or begins) on top of a mountain where you have to turn around and hike out.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The views on top of Katahdin are unsurpassed and you might get to celebrate with a thru-hiker finishing the 2,185-mile journey.

At the top!  The mountain looks similar to many of the 14ers in Colorado

Peak Season

Most thru-hikers go in the summer due to snow.  Baxter State Park closes in the winter, but most of the trail is accessible year round.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/appa/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm

Fees

Free to hike, but some parks (like Shenandoah National Park) charge for admission and camping.

Road Conditions

Trailhead access can be both paved and dirt (which is the case in Baxter State Park).  The trail is only paved in a few portions like atop Clingman’s Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Camping

There are more than 160 trail shelters along the A.T. and in some places like Great Smoky Mountains National Park backpackers are required to utilize them.  Otherwise dispersed camping is mostly allowed along the entire length of the trail.

Raven flyover
Raven about the Katahdin summit!

At the peak and end of the AT

Group shot!

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A view of the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
A view looking east at the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

Explore More – Approximately how many steps must a human take to cover 2,185 miles?

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WONDON WAS HERE

Andersonville National Historic Site

Overview

During the Civil War, Andersonville Prison in central Georgia held approximately 32,000 Union prisoners in a compound designed for only 10,000.  As the tide turned against the Confederacy in 1864, the prisoners were not adequately cared for and thousands perished.  Following the war, Clara Barton helped lead the effort to identify the 12,920 men buried here and place a gravestone for each of them.  In addition to being a National Park Service (NPS) site, it remains an active military cemetery and is also home to the National Prisoner of War Museum.

Andersonville

Highlights

National Prisoner of War Museum, monuments in Andersonville National Cemetery, prison site

Must-Do Activity

This may not be the best NPS site to bring children to, given the exhibits in the National Prisoner of War Museum do not pull punches in their depictions of the brutality endured by captured combatants throughout the ages.  That said, it is very well-done and a powerful experience.  We can promise that you will not leave this small Georgia town harboring the same feelings about war with which you arrived.

Best Trail

Walk (or drive) around the Civil War prison site to read interpretive panels and see the reconstruction of the North Gate and Northeast Corner of the stockade.

Instagram-worthy Photo

You thought your deadlines were tough, but if an Andersonville prisoner crossed this “dead line” he was immediately shot.

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Peak Season

Year round, though it can get hot and humid in the summer.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/ande/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads are paved.

Camping

None in the park, but several campgrounds nearby including one across the road from the cemetery and Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park near Americus.

In the National Cemetery at Andersonville

Reflection of the American flag on the tomb of the unknown

Tiff outside the main gate at Andersonville

The memorial outside of the museum

Tiff in the POW museum (those are all guns trained on her)
Tiff inside the National Prisoner of War Museum.

Inside the POW museum

Explore More – What was the fate after the Civil War of Confederate camp commander Henry Wirz?

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WONDON WAS HERE