This fall, all sports at VSU were cancelled except for cross country and golf.
Instead of participating in or spectating at team sporting events, students can get involved in hiking, since it only requires one person to do the activity.
There are plenty of locations throughout Georgia where students can travel to hike.
Some popular hiking locations—almost all are around Atlanta or further north—are Stone Mountain, Helen, Amicalola Falls State Park, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Dahlonega, Ellijay, Blairsville, Hiawassee and Toccoa.
For beginners, Stone Mountain is a relatively easy hike with just enough steep climbs to get you ready for what an intense hike might be like. Stone Mountain isn’t a long one, but it does offer scenic views once you reach the top.
One of the most popular places to visit in North Georgia is Blue Ridge, a mountain town that is known for its art center, theater and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which offers visitors an opportunity to take a train ride through Blue Ridge to explore and learn the history of the town.
Blue Ridge is roughly 4.5 hours from Valdosta, but many would find the drive worth it because South Georgia is a place of flat land that fails to provide a true hiking experience.
Alexis Stewart, a belayer for the rock wall and a guide for the ropes course at CORE Outdoors at the Campus Recreation center, recently took a trip to Blue Ridge where she hiked the Mountaintown Creek and Pinhoti trails.
“We stayed in the Cohutta [forrest region in Blue Ridge] and went hiking on a few different trails,” Stewart said. “Hiking is a big stress reliever and a great way to explore nature.”
Whether you are hiking for pleasure or exercise, it is very important to be prepared before you take a hiking trip.
“I would suggest researching as much information as possible about the trail, getting a map on-site, if available, and always wearing comfortable gear,” Stewart said. “Pace yourself and know your limits. Hiking in higher altitudes can be tricky. Hiking boots are not a necessity. Wear comfortable shoes that have grip and bring plenty of water.”
Sarah Wiggins, a senior Spanish major, is an experienced hiker. This past summer, she traveled to Alaska, California and Colorado over the course of three weeks and went hiking several times.
“Bring more water than you think you need, bring energizing snacks, layers (depending on the time of year), break your hiking boots in and wear sunscreen,” she said.
In recent years, CORE Outdoors has taken trips to Blood Mountain, Springer Mountain and Providence Canyon.
According to Stewart, CORE Outdoors will be offering outdoor events again next semester as long as university policies allow.
Story written by Zach Edmondson. Photo courtesy of HikeWNC.