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6 spots in Gainesville to enjoy a walk in the woods
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Gainesville's Atlanta Botanical Garden is offering a scavenger hunt for kids through October and a Wine in the Woodlands activity for adults. - photo by Scott Rogers

Gainesville may be the small urban center of Hall County, but it's still home to several forested areas with miles of trails. Get some fresh air beneath the trees in one of these in-town or nearby destinations.

Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville

This north campus of the Atlanta Botanical Garden is set on 168 acres in the woodlands just north of downtown Gainesville. Stroll past daffodils, hydrangeas, poppies, tulips, camellias and other colorful flowers along with art displays. The park also includes a children’s area that opened in 2020 and features  carnivorous plants, climbing areas, a miniature trolley and water elements. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children 3 and older.

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A clearing on the trail at Lanier Point Park provides a nice view of Lake Lanier. - photo by Shannon Casas
Lanier Point Park

Once at this park off Dawsonville Highway, pass the baseball fields on your left and keep driving until you see a parking lot right by the lake and a covered bridge. Up the grassy hill beyond the covered bridge is a hilly, wooded loop trail on this peninsula into Lake Lanier. Given the geography, there are of course nice views of the lake for much of this walk.

Don Carter State Park

On the north end of Lake Lanier, this park has a lot to offer, including several trails between a half mile and 2 miles long. Some are paved and others natural, and many are loop trails. The park also has equestrian and water trails in addition to camping, a beach area and playground.

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Wes Hatch, naturalist at Elachee Nature Science Center, started up the nonprofit's first Chicopee Challenge. The program tasks participants with hiking 150 miles in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve within a year. - photo by Kelsey Podo

Elachee Nature Science Center

Elachee is a private, nonprofit environmental education center and museum located in the 1,440-acre Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve just south of Gainesville. The visitor center features a natural history exhibit, where people can learn more about the history and habitats of the Chicopee Woods. Also featured are a live animal room with 25 species of reptiles and amphibians, the Garden Trail with six interpretive garden exhibits and the Georgia Pollinator Exhibit featuring student artworks. Visitors eager to get outside can trek along 8 miles of walking trails that connect the visitor center campus to Elachee’s Aquatic Studies Center at Chicopee Lake. Dogs and pets are not allowed on the trails. There is a $5 daily parking fee for cars.

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Trails wind through the woods and beside creeks at Linwood Nature Preserve in Gainesville, pictured here in March 2020. - photo by Shannon Casas
Linwood Nature Preserve

Nestled in a residential area of Gainesville, this park includes 2 miles of trails that traverse forest and meadow and run alongside creek and lake. The preserve is one of seven community forests of the Old-Growth Forest Network in the United States.

Rock Creek Greenway

This 2-mile trail winds through a few of Gainesville's parks, on its way from Lake Lanier to downtown. It includes paved and boardwalk sections that pass by playgrounds and enter into residential areas with plenty of tree canopy. You can begin either at Longwood Park on the lake or Rock Creek Veterans Park in town.