South Georgia and North Florida

Known as the City of Rose, Thomasville is the second largest city in Southeast Georgia and is filled with the rich history, specialty shops, and natural southern beauty that surrounds the city. Adjacent to the Thomasville Rose Garden is Cherokee Park, one of the most scenic parks Thomasville has to offer. The park’s one-mile paved trail winds around the lake via boardwalks and under an old railroad bridge providing up-close encounters with ducks and geese. Along the way there are pavilions that are ideal for an afternoon picnic.

Just northeast of Thomasville is Reed Bingham State Park, featuring an adventurous lake, the Little River, and seven miles of hiking trails where one can marvel at nature’s beauty and tranquility. The five main trails that cover just over 5.5 miles lead right into the heart of the park’s natural beauty and ecosystem. The Little River Trail crosses boardwalks through the Little River-flooded lowlands through bald cypress, tupelos, and spruce pines. This trail connects with the Yearling Trail, which climbs steadily from the lowlands to the forested bluff overlooking the river through pine and palm trees, ending in the northernmost part of the park, where the Red Roberts Loop begins, featuring several boardwalks through drainage streams that flow into the Little River. Taking the Bird Walk back, it passes through five natural communities of southern hardwoods, walnuts, magnolias, and American hollies.

The northern part of Leon County is where Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park is located, which encompasses 670 acres along the shores of Jackson Lake. The park is known as the largest and wildest urban park in Tallahassee, where winding streams, towering tulip poplars, and ancient magnolias can be found throughout the dense forest. The park’s 7.5-mile trail system is made up of three stacked loops showcasing spectacular trees of enormous sizes where each loop gets longer and more difficult. The easiest and shortest is the 1.5-mile Coon Bottom Loop Trail. Stacked into this loop is the 1.8-mile Swamp Forest Loop which runs around the perimeter of a forested wetland where the terrain turns hilly and through swamps over wooden boardwalks that pass through a forest of beech and magnolia trees. From this trailhead, the .8-mile Creek Trail leads to the 2.5-mile Oak Hammock Loop.

On the north side of Tallahassee is the Alfred B Maclay Gardens State Park. In 1923, Alfred purchased this property for his family’s winter retreat and began building a masterpiece of floral architecture, now on the National Register of Historic Places. The gardens overlook Hall Lake and are where his family entertained many prominent people over the years, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. A 75-mile walk through the gardens along the picturesque brick walkway displays hundreds of camellias, azaleas, a walled garden, a secret garden, and a reflection pond. In addition, the park has about 5.5 miles of shared figure-of-eight hiking trails that run through a hardwood forest of shortleaf pines, loblolly’s, magnolias, dogwoods, and live oaks. The Lake Over-street trail is the easiest and surrounds the lake, which is one of the last undeveloped shorelines in Leon County, where native vegetation such as water lilies and pike thrive and provide a natural habitat for fish, otters, alligators and bald eagles. While Forest Meadows Trail is a bit more difficult with its gently sloping hills and ravines that are a rare natural feature in the Tallahassee area.

Leon County is home to two important cultural resources, artifacts from the sites dating back some 12,000 years. The temple’s earthen mounds are believed to have been built by the Swift Creek people and used by the surrounding communities for ceremonies. The mound at Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park stands at 51 feet and a short paved walkway leads to the viewing platform. Next to the mound is a short half mile nature trail for viewing wildlife. A large plantation owned by Colonel Robert Butler is now the site of Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park, home to six of the seven known earthen temple mounds. The two mounds that are intact and available for public viewing are situated in an open area known as the central plaza. Additionally, the park has two trails, where the 1.5-mile Old Orchard Loop winds through forested hills where giant trees still stand. The shorter Butler Mill Loop runs through the old plantation waterworks crossing an earthen dam used for irrigation and the site of the old mill.

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