GEORGIA

Get Outdoors in Augusta, Georgia

Mention Augusta, Ga., and for many, it immediately invokes visions of well-manicured gardens and green jackets.

While the city is internationally known (and rightfully so) for the Masters Tournament held annually at Augusta National Golf Course in April, it's also developing a name for itself when it comes to outdoor sporting events. Throughout the year, Augusta hosts everything from the Esi Ironman 70.3 Augusta (September) to the Head of the South Rowing Regatta (November) and more. Augusta was also the site for the International Mountain Bicycling Association's 2010 World Summit, and is slated to host the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Division II Men's and Women's Soccer Championships.

And this is only the beginning for Georgia's second-oldest and second-largest city.

Even as the city continues to build up its professional outdoors sports side, don't think for a moment there's nothing for the non-professional types to do.

Quite the opposite.

Whatever your interest may be, whether it's kayaking, mountain biking, hiking or horse backing riding, rest assured that you can enjoy it when you're in Augusta.

  • Grab a paddle: Canoe or kayak down the Augusta Canal (augustacanal.com). The seven-mile journey, which begins at the head gates of the canal, is quite pleasant. Seven miles may seem like a lot, but with a strong (but not too strong, if you're a beginner) current, you're able to rest some between strokes. The journey itself is fascinating as well; you start out surrounded by nature, then you glide by 100-plus year old factories and end up in downtown.
    Rent your kayak or canoe through American Wilderness Outfitters Unlimited (AWOL), 706/738-8500; getawol.com.
  • Take to the trails: Walkers, joggers, hikers and mountain bikers can find ample trails to explore in Augusta. If you're staying downtown, begin your morning with a brisk walk or jog along the Riverwalk. The aforementioned canal offers wide paths that are suitable and enjoyable for all levels of walkers, joggers and mountain bikers. An added bonus for both hikers and mountain bikers is the Forks Area Trail Systems (FATS; sctrails.net/trails/ALLTRAILS/MountainBike/FATS.html) that offers six different trails to keep you busy.
  • Saddle up: View the area from a different level when you go horseback riding. Hilltop Stables (706/791-4864; fortgordon.com/hilltop_riding_stable.php), located in Fort Gordon, is open to civilians and can be a great family activity, or a perfect way to spend some "me" time. Different guided rides are available. Helmets are provided, and remember to wear closed-toe shoes. Instructions are given prior to the ride as well. Everyone stays at a comfortable walk, and the stable work well with first-time riders (request Velvet if you've never ridden before.) There's also pony rides for those under seven years old.
  • Think feet, not yards: Located at Wildwood Park is the National Disc Golf Association (pdga.com). If you've never played before, or like myself, only played on Wii Fit a few times, you'll quickly discover that while it's fun, it's definitely a skill. Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones who doesn't have a problem getting your disc in the basket. There are three courses to choose from and yes, there are water hazards and some tee areas can be challenging. Also, be sure to check out the Ed Headrick Memorial Museum. Headrick was the inventor of the Frisbee and disc golf.
    Others disc golf courses in Augusta are located at Pendelton King Park, Lake Olmstead Park and in Evans, Patriots Park. Additional information about all the courses can be found on the National Disc Golf Association's website, pdga.com/course_directory.

To learn more about Augusta, Ga., visit augustaga.com . Stay current with their blog, http://visitaugustaga.wordpress.com.

- ADVERTISEMENT -