Big Canoe - Best Hiking Community of the Year
Last October, we spent a month at Big Canoe, an award winning gated community in the Blue Ridge Mountains and one of the best places to retire in Georgia. We couldn’t have picked a more beautiful time of the year. Like many of our clients, we too are considering a home in the mountains. Folks might be surprised to discover Big Canoe has 22 miles of genuine hiking trails, not double-purpose community sidewalks. The well maintained hiking trails lead to waterfalls, Indian trail tree markers, historic moonshine stills and cabins dating back to the early 1800’s. During the spring, wildflowers and Rhododendron fill the forest. During the fall, the forest floor is carpeted with crunchy leaves and falling acorns. The smells and sounds are invigorating hiking in Georgia.
Our first adventure took us from behind the fitness center on the Lake Trail up to the Upper Falls. It took us about 3.5 hours to complete the 4+ mile hike. We loved the trail so much we hiked it twice. At Wildcat Park, the trails are wide and paved paralleling rustic mountain homes. We enjoyed passing by young families on bikes, dog walkers, and joggers. The John Williams Trail leading to Big Canoe’s infamous covered bridge is intriguing hiking trail enhanced by the sounds and scenery of Blackwell Creek.
Here’s more information about the Big Canoe hiking trails:
NATURE VALLEY PARK TRAIL SYSTEM (4 MILES TOTAL - 3.5 HOURS)
Lake Trail - (.3 mile each way) The narrow trail takes folks tightly around Lake Dishrag, over a couple bridges and along a slow moving creek. Holding branches as you climb up and down the path helps. The trail connects with the spacious Wildflower and Jeep Trail.
Wildflower Trail - (.3 mile each way) The Wildflower trail weaves through a canopied forest. Narrow bridges crisscross back and forth over the creeks. Hikers can easily feel like they’re in the middle of no where cradled by the sounds of birds and crickets. Trail paths are well defined and marked. The Wildflower Trail connects with the Falls Trail and Jeep Trail.
Falls Trail Loop - (1.7 miles) The more adventurous narrow trail follows the creek weaving through the forest. A wonderful place to feel lost in the woods with a big payoff. The Lower Falls is an excellent photo stop! The stunning waterfall plunges into a pool with a gigantic boulder to climb up on for memorable photos in front of the waterfall when you retire in Georgia.
Jeep Trail Loop - (1.7 miles) A car-size wide gravel path leading up to the Upper Falls. The path is a gentle continuous climb up. Along the path, hikers pass Disharoon Cabin, a picnic area and a preserved site moonshine distillery. 4 x 4 vehicles are permitted on the upper part of the trail system. The Upper Falls was a taller waterfall but had less water cascading. The Upper Falls has a great picnic spot area while hiking in Georgia.
Cabin Loop Trail - (.2 mile) The trail loops around the picnic area and Disharoon Cabin, one of the historic rustic mountain homes in Big Canoe.
Nancy Womack Trail - (.5 mile) The most challenging trail at Big Canoe, the path crosses over multiple streams and mini-waterfalls leading up to a viewing area with a 50 rock and waterfall. Elevations reach as high 3,400 feet.
MEDITATION PARK TRAIL SYSTEM (2 MILES TOTAL - 2 HOURS)
John Williams Trail - (.3 mile) A forested footpath following the picturesque Blackwell Creek. The trail climbs up and down the hillside above the creek where a walking stick would come in handy. A handful of homes can be seen perched above the trail. Boulders in the creek and rushing water after the rain provide great photo opportunities. A narrow suspended footbridge leads to the Nature Trail and Blackwell Creek Trail.
Covered Bridge Trail - (1 mile) A gentle, well maintained hiking trail leading to Big Canoe’s signature covered bridge on Wilderness Parkway. The trail follows the picturesque creek, passes by the old bridge ruins and continues under the covered bridge connecting to the Blackwell Creek Trail.
Blackwell Creek Loop - (1 mile) A meandering trail through the dense forest paralleling the creek and leading to a set of challenging stairs up to a Boy Scout Camp and outdoor amphitheater.
Nature Trail - (.5 mile) A heavily forested trail from the Boy Scout Camp back to the Covered Bridge Trail. At the base of camp, a preserved historic cabin dating back to the 1800’s is on display. Hiking the trail gives you sense of being in the middle of a forest with only the sounds of nature wrapped around you.
WILDCAT PARK TRAIL SYSTEM (4 MILES TOTAL - 1.5 HOURS)
Wildcat Connector - (.6 mile) Just beyond the swimming pool area, the Wildcat Connector is a great warm up paved path. The paths roll up and down through the forest connecting to the Red Loop. On the weekends, this is probably the busiest of the hiking trail system at Big Canoe because it’s paved. It’s also popular with dogs so it’s unlikely you’ll see deer here.
Red Loop - (1.9 miles) The Red Loop connects beautifully leading you up or down the paved trail. Paths discreetly weave behind Big Canoe homes and along slow moving creeks.
Blue Loop - (1.2 miles) The Blue Loop continues on a gentle elevation climb leading through the forest and behind barely visible Big Canoe homes. Some of the homes built natural trails connecting to the Blue Loop. On the Blue Loop trail, we discovered the site of another historic moonshine distillery.
Wildcat Recreation Connector - (.6 mile) An easy loop around the Wildcat Recreation Center, ideal for strollers and joggers. The easier 4+ mile full loop took us 1.75 hours to complete hiking in Georgia.
MCDANIELS MEADOWS TRAIL SYSTEM
The Meadows has a network of gravel or paved paths that allow for walks ranging from half to over a mile. The meadows includes a dog park. The main entrance is at Wilderness Parkway.
INDIAN ROCKS PARK TRAIL SYSTEM
An easy set of trails near Lake Petit, the Indian Mounds Trail, Lake Petit Trail and Indian Mounds Loop Trail.
PLAYFIELD PARK TRAILS
Located below the Lake Petit Dam, two easy walking trails are found here. The Running Track around the Playfield is exactly .25 miles. The second trail leads to Wolfscratch Village and the Swim Club and Fitness Center.
On the upper side of the Lake Petit Dam are two easy hiking trails around Blackwell Spring Lakes and Toad’s Pond.
The Chocotaw Trail is 1.3 miles long and can be accessed at the end of the Sinti Trail.
Big Canoe in Jasper Georgia clearly has some of the best hiking trails we’ve explored within a best master planned community. It’s fascinating how one can feel a million miles away and yet be less than a mile from rustic mountain homes within the community. Big Canoe encompasses over 8,000 acres from gate to gate, with 30% of its acreage protected as green space. Amenities include:
- 24 Hour Manned Gated Entrance
- 27 Hole Championship Golf Course designed by Joe Lee
- 9 Hole Creek Course overlooking Lake Sconti
- 9 Hole Cherokee Course with dramatic elevations
- 9 Hole Choctaw Course accented by waterfalls and rushing creeks
- Lodge-style Golf Clubhouse overlooking Lake Sconti
- 16,000 Square Foot Fitness Center
- Indoor Heated Saline Swimming Pool
- Resort-style Outdoor Swimming Pool bordering the Beach
- Wildcat Recreation Center with Outdoor Swimming Pool and Kids Pool
- Ballfields - Soccer, Baseball, Basketball and Bocce Ball
- Ten Lighted Tennis Courts
- 22 Miles of Paved and Gravel Trails for fantastic hiking in Georgia
- Three Private Lakes stocked with Trout, Bass, Bream and Crappie
- Community Boat Docks and Marina Store
- The Villages Market
- Three Dog Parks
Big Canoe is clearly a benchmark in hiking communities. We bestow our 2015 Bliss Award for Best Hiking Community of the Year on Big Canoe.
If you’re searching for where to retire in Georgia, start with exploring the hiking trails and homes at Big Canoe.
Call 866-244-2266 to schedule a visit.