Spend an hour or day hiking the 30 miles of trails in Big Canoe®, Voted 2015 Best Hiking Community of the Year. With over 30% of the 8,000 acres preserved as natural green space, residents and guests enjoy lovely trails and parks throughout the community year around. All the trails are excellently maintained, ranging from woodland footpaths to gravel and paved trails popular for cycling. Big Canoe® is also a certified Audubon Sanctuary and a haven for over 100 species of birds.
In the heart of Big Canoe® lies a 500 acre Nature Valley for hiking and a Jeep trail for 4X4 vehicles.
Big Canoe 's hiking trails take advantage of the beautiful natural environment through wildflower meadows, across creeks and streams, past ancient Indian Rock mounds and waterfalls, around lakes, and over bridges.McDaniel Meadows, a 34-acre wildflower preserve, is a sight to behold in Spring and home to many flora and fauna. At the entrance of each Big Canoe® Trail is a kiosk with details and features. Bicycles may use the paved and gravel trails.
Big Canoe® is host to many beautiful parks, each with its own appeal, special features and lovely trails, meandering among trees, streams and meadows.
From the Swim Club you can access 4 of the most popular hiking trails and the 4x4 Jeep Trail. The Lake Trail is 0.3 mile, Falls Trail is 1.7 miles, crossing Wilderness Parkway. The Jeep Trail is a great Hiker 's return, and its total length is 1.7 miles.Nancy Womack Trail is 0.5 mile, and it crosses Valley View.This is the steepest and most difficult of the trails with many stream crossings. The Wildflower Trail is 0.3 mile and the Cabin Loop Trail just 0.2 mile.
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Length: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate - at one point there is a steep embankment with steps. If you are concerned with the difficulty, it is easier to hike if entered near the Scout Hut.
Features: The trail follows along Blackwell Creek with the water flowing over the rocks in the stream. Walking through a mature forest with many large hemlocks is a relaxing experience. This trail features benches with meditation books and Bibles in the small boxes near the benches. This trail follows through the Robert B. Platt Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden is a natural area with a mature forest with many plants native to this area including native flowers, ferns, rhododendrons, Carolina Hemlock and American Beech. A pioneer cabin that you can explore is near the beginning of the trail and there is a reflecting pool and benches for you to relax on.
Length: 2 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate; at one point there is a steep hillside with several steps.
Features: One of the most beautiful areas on all the trails in Big Canoe® awaits you at the end of this trail. In an area that is green year round because of the Canadian Hemlock, rhododendron and mountain laurel surrounding you, Blackwell Creek flows over a rock ledge and around huge boulders creating an awesome setting. Below the water cascade is a large rock in the middle of the creek. The creek is forced through a narrow channel in the rock creating a masterful display of nature at work. This rock is a great place for a picnic or just to sit and hang your feet in the water absorbing nature around you. Consider shedding your shoes and wading in the creek between the picnic rock and the waterfall. It feels great during a warm North Georgia summer. A reminder of the past of this area will greet you as you walk alongside the creek below the Covered Bridge. You will see stacked stone columns that are the remnants of the supports for a bridge estimated to be over a century old. Look closely in the undergrowth between Blackwell Creek and Wilderness Parkway and you will see where the pioneers used stacked stone to support the road leading to the old bridge. Imagine these structures being build by hand uses horses and wagons to bring material to the site. Based on the remnants we can still see, the bridge must have been an impressive structure in its day. This is an enjoyable hike in any season. Wildflowers grace many parts of the trail in the Spring and Summer, especially in the area just after you cross Wilderness Parkway. In late June, this is a great trail to see the Rhododendron in bloom. Also along this trail, about 50 yards downstream of the wooden steps, is a rare Mountain Camellia, Stewartia ovata, which blooms in late June. The bloom is white, about the size of a dogwood, with purple filaments and a yellow stamen, an absolutely stunning flower. If you see this tree in bloom, please do not pick the blooms. We need to allow them to propagate. Because of the evergreen nature of many parts of this trail, this is an exceptional hike to enjoy once the leaves fall and the weather turns chilly.
Length: Total length 0.8 miles; divided into three (3) trails; Indian Mounds Trail is 0.3 miles, Indian Mounds Loop Trail is 0.2 miles and the Lake Petit Trail is 0.3 miles.
Features: You do not want to miss the "Indian Rocks". Multiple round, stone stacks built by native Americans cover the hillside near the start of Indian Rocks Park Trail. Stop to read the signs and speculate on why and when the structures were built. You can then follow the small stream down to Lake Petit. Along the way, contemplate how this small stream has carved crevices into solid rock over the eons. Before heading back to your car, take a few minutes and look for the ducks that nest along this inlet of Lake Petit. Indian Mounds Trail begins at the parking area on Woodland Trace and ends at Quail Cove. Indian Mounds Loop Trail has a blue blaze and forks to the left from the Indian Mounds Trail when you cross the stream eventually rejoining the Indian Mounds Trail. The Lake Petit Trail is the continuation of the Indian Mounds Trail across Quail Cove to Lake Petit. It also has a blue blaze.
Length: 2 miles, but this can be divided into segments to meet your desires.
Difficulty: Easy - unpaved road
Features: Walk, jog, or bicycle on an unpaved road that parallels Disharoon Creek through a broad, flat valley. If the grandchildren are along, let them wade in the clear waters of Disharoon Creek at the crossings. Don't forget to look for your favorite animal tracks in the muddy areas along the road. Disharoon Cabin was originally located in the woods to the right of the entry road to Sconti Restaurant, off Wilderness Parkway. It was the core of an "added-on-to" house and typified the mountain homes that were on the property of Big Canoe® at the time. It was dismantled, moved and rebuilt in Nature Valley. The mud chinking came from the creek near the existing site. On the left of the Jeep Trail, where the Lower Falls Trail crosses, are rock mounds built by either pioneers or native Americans. The purpose or origin of these mounds is not known. Also along the Jeep Trail is "The Diggings". These are probably the result of backbreaking labor with pick and shovel by some long-forgotten prospector, perhaps in search of gold. It is also possible that the Cherokee Indians who were native to the area created the diggings. Toad's Glen near the Lower Falls is a great spot for lunch or a quiet carefree (if you remembered the mosquito repellant) dinner. Just before you reach the Lower Falls, on the left is the replica of a moonshine still. These stills were the source of the original "Mountain Dew". Home brew created in stills like this gave warmth and cheer in the winter and was the base for many home remedies. You will not have any trouble finding the Lower Falls when you get there. The sounds of the cascading water draw you in. Bring your camera. This has to be the most photographed sight in Big Canoe®. Between the Lower and Upper Falls is a large area covered in ferns in the warm seasons. By hiking the Jeep Trail you can see both the Upper and Lower Falls and the Disharoon Cabin. Last but not least on the hit parade for the Jeep Trail is the Upper Falls. Much higher than the Lower Falls, but with a narrower path, the water over thousands of years has carved it own path through the solid rock. You will wonder how a spiral was carved in rock by running water and just how deep are those small pools where the water hits after its steep drop.
Length: A total of 0.8 miles
Difficulty: Downstream of Valley View this trail is easy. Be careful of the stream crossings, rocks can be slippery. Upstream of Valley View, the trail eventually becomes steep - but is well worth the effort. One note of caution: there is a healthy growth of poison ivy on the last leg of this trail approaching the view of the falls. You should consider wearing long pants when hiking this trail.
Features: This trail, named in memory of an avid hiker and a strong supporter of the hiking trails of Big Canoe®, is one of the most beautiful trails in Big Canoe®. The upper end of the trail follows a small, very clear, rapidly moving stream up a valley with steep hills on either side. You feel that you are alone with nature. You will cross the stream in multiple spots and will be fascinated as the stream runs over the rocks and creates mini-waterfalls. The grand finale of the trail is a bench overlooking Nancy Womack Falls, a 50 foot rock face with the stream cascading over it. In the Spring (early April) you can see multiple colors of violets blooming along the trail and in the Fall asters share their colors. Below Valley View, the valley widens and you walk across a "stone field" before winding along the creek to an end on the Jeep Trail. Follow the Jeep Trail to the right and enjoy the Upper Falls while you are there.
Length: 0.8 miles
Features: Walk along a very secluded area surrounded by a plethora of native evergreens. You will follow a small stream and enjoy the ferns growing in the moist areas under the towering hardwoods. This trail culminates in the beautiful Upper Falls with the stream cascading over a steep rock. Carry your lunch and picnic on the tables at the Upper Falls and listen to the Falls during your meal.
Length: A hike of 1.7 miles from Lake Disharoon to the Lower Falls makes this the longest natural trail in Big Canoe®. Don't let that discourage you because this trail can be accessed at several different points.
Difficulty: Moderate - Most of this trail is easy to hike, but there are some hills you will traverse.
Features: Following the course of Disharoon Creek, this trail exposes you to the wide variety of flora and fauna inhabiting Big Canoe®. All through the warmer months, but especially in April, May and June, you will see wild flowers, shrubs and trees in bloom. You may also see the occasional fawn and hear the call of young birds still in the nest. However, don't think all the fun is in the Spring. Hanging your toes in the cool waters of Disharoon Creek in the Summer or seeing nature cloaked in the color of the changing season in the Fall is another great time to enjoy this trail. Many of us don't hike in the Winter because it is too cold. But once you see the icicles that form where water cascades over the rocks, you may decide that this season is worth your efforts too. The Grand Finale of this trail is the Lower Falls. If you haven't spent a few minutes sitting on the huge rock in front of the Lower Falls just absorbing the wonder of it all, then you haven't experienced Big Canoe®. Bring your camera for this one. It is a great place to get your family's picture in front of a cascade of water. Take time to observe the plant life around the falls, especially the mosses and ferns growing under and in the water. One caution, moss makes the rocks along the edges slick, so don't try to get too close.
Length: 0.2 miles
Features: The Cabin Loop joins the Jeep Trail and the Lower Falls Trail. This is a great trail to take your time and explore. One arm of the trail follows alongside a small stream. Not only can you enjoy the sounds of running water, but along stream banks are one the best places to see the native flowers in season. You can explore the pioneer cabin and imagine living with a family of 10 or 12 in a home the size of some of today's living rooms. On the other hand, sit on the porch and imagine the tranquility they had that we have lost so much of today.
Length: One Mile
Difficulty: Easy, very flat area
Features: Originally designed to showcase the wildflowers that grow in moist, natural forests, this area has been transformed over time by the tornado of November 2002 and over-grazing by Big Canoe's plentiful deer. Originally designed to showcases the wildflowers that grow in moist, natural forests, this area has been transformed over time by the tornado of November 2002 and over-grazing by Big Canoe's plentiful deer.
Length: 0.6 miles
Features: Hike along the edge of Disharoon Lake and watch the fish and people in the lake. In the summer, you may see turtles sunning on logs or floating with just their heads out of the water. This trail, like most in Big Canoe®, is blessed with large Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel whose bloom you can enjoy in late spring or early summer. Hike in the early morning or near sundown and you may see deer grazing on the golf course as you pass by. This trail links up with the Wild Flower Trail, Lower Falls Trails and the Jeep Trail.
Length: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy - reasonably flat with crushed stone paths. If you approach from the parking lot in the Wildcat Recreation Area, there is one steep hill to climb.
Features: Wander along side a perfusion of wild flowers whose colors change with the bloom pattern of the season. Don't forget to linger on the small bridge near the parking lot to appreciate the plants, amphibians and fish along and in the stream. A don't miss part of McDaniel Meadows is where it crosses Yanegwa Path. This is a heavily shaded, moist area, with lots of ferns. Take time to observe how the stream has eroded the soil away from the roots of the trees leaving them standing on "fingers" along the stream edge. If your dog comes with you, they will enjoy a romp without a leash in the dog park. Bicycles are allowed on the paths in McDaniel Meadows.
Difficulty: Easy - there are some rolling hills, but overall it is an easy walk or a nice workout on a bicycle.
Features: Paved paths for bicycles, jogging or walking wander through meadows of wildflowers from Spring through Fall. Portions of the paths are through woods areas along streams. Stop on the bridges to look at the flora along the streams, it is worth your time. Many dogs enjoy these paths and it is not unusual to encounter deer.
Length: 1.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy - moving from the lower lake to the upper lake is a little steep.
Features: The Waterford Lakes Trail loops around two small lakes featuring nesting waterfowl on small islands in the lower lake. If you look closely, you can see bream, crappie and bass floating among the tree tops remaining along the lake edges. In the Fall, the dam is covered with wild flowers.
To the north of Big Canoe® is the Dawson Wildlife Management Area, Wildcat Tract.This area includes approximately 4,500 acres primarily designated for hunting and fishing that an organization, The Mountain Stewards, has obtained permission to open for passive recreation.The Mountain Stewards have developed and marked trails in this area.Maps of these trails can be found on theMountain Stewards website.