The summer months are full of chirping birds and insects that buzz from ear to ear. The trees are in mid season and full of lush green growth signifying a successful resurgence to their full potential. Athens remains a twinkling star in the eyes of outdoor adventurers and with dozens of walking trails zig-zagging their way through the rolling hills of Appalachia, there’s more to see than will ever be seen. It’s a mystifying feeling of wondering what you’ll discover at the peak of the next hill or hiding quietly in the surrounding valleys…
Luckily for those of us that live here and those that manage to get themselves lost, Athens provides the casual hiker or extreme mountaineer a unique level of terrains that fit a variety of skill. There are several well known and easily traversed trails in the hills directly surrounding Athens, most of which provide spectacular views of the town that are unmatched anywhere else.
Strouds Run State Park – Strouds Run remains the shining jewel to Athens’ collection of outstanding trails that encircle the city. With a combination of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, Strouds has the terrain and trail network to accompany a variety of difficulties providing guests with endless choices when it comes to direction and scenery. Visitors can stay lakeside and walk along the entire shoreline of Dow Lake without any major inclines or dips. For those looking for a more rigorous trip, there is the Sundown Trail and Cliff Trail that follow the sloping ridges of the hills and provide breathtaking views of the steep slopes and ragged cliffs of the region. Autumn provides the most picturesque scenery, while the winter months, with the trees naked and bare, allow trailblazers to see vast expanses of the Appalachian valley’s that the regions famous for. The trip to Strouds is just a few miles from the city of Athens.
Sells Park – The park may seem small at first, but only to the un-wandering eye. Sells Park acts briefly as a community park that’s great for picnics and allows for easy access into the hills just off of East State Street. It’s more than just picnic grounds with a quaint pond in the background. Sells acts as a gateway into the woods and to the much larger Strouds Run. Even without venturing all the way into Strouds (a pleasant 2.1 miles by foot), Sells Park has its own expanse of interconnected pathways that lead adventurers up steep cliffs and down through (at times) treacherous ravines.
The Ridges Trails – Far from their namesake asylum, the Ridges Trails offer guests a glimpse at what the mental hospital was really meant for; a sanctuary for the confused and misunderstood to find peace and rest easy. The trail system spread throughout the grounds of the former mental institution has several distinct and varying vibes of scenery. The Athens Trail runs its length primarily through fields of wild flowers and long grass flowing across the hillside in the wind. The trail passes through densely wooded areas and conjoins with other pathways which provide visitors with opportunities of hiking varying lengths and sections of the trails. Those searching for a historical connection, the trails even boast a cemetery walk that passes along three cemeteries known to be the final resting places of many former patients. If you choose to take the longest trail through the back hills of the property, Radar Hill should be on your list of stopping points to relax and catch your breath while taking in the magnificent panoramic of Athens County and the neighboring fields which reflect the area’s strong farming presence.
Extend your stay! After a day of hiking, rest and rejuvenate at one of our hotels, B&Bs or cabins. Find the perfect lodging to make your perfect trip.