By: Randy DuTeau
The Farmer’s Almanac is calling for a cold, dreary winter in Georgia. I realize the inclination will be to stay indoors and out of the elements, but folks, we aren’t bears. Instead of hibernating, make some plans to get outside, produce some body heat, and reward yourself with some tasty food. Physical activity will help keep you out of the winter doldrums and indulging in a good post-activity meal will replenish the calories burned keeping your body warm and moving forward.
With so many great places to visit throughout the state, it can be difficult to decide where to go. Let me make it easy for you. I’m going to throw out some adventure and edible pairings (like wine pairings, only we are replacing the grapes with the soil) just down the road in Columbia County. All you have to do is pick the day and motivate yourself to make it happen.
If your family likes to bike or hike, the Bartram Trail in Appling is a great place to visit. The most popular stretch is located between Wildwood Park and the West Dam Recreation Area. That’s a 15.5 mile expanse, which may be a bit too much for some. Keep it simple and plan your adventure out of the Petersburg Trailhead.
The Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with our local mountain bike advocacy group, SORBAcsra, has just completed a major expansion project there, adding changing rooms, a picnic pavilion, bike wash, and bike repair station, which makes the area very user friendly. Hikers, mountain bikers, and trail runners love this location. The trails are perfect for all abilities and the scenic views of Clarks Hill Lake are stunning. If you want to make the trip an overnighter, there is also camping at Petersburg Campground.
After the excursion, head ten minutes down the road to enjoy the Evans community’s new burrito joint, Twisted Burrito (4446 Washington Rd.). Monstrous portions with fresh ingredients, washed down with tasty beverages will have you feeling replenished in no time. The “Bob Marley” burrito with jerk chicken and saffron rice is one of our faves. If the fear of carbs in your tortilla makes you wary, you need only request your burrito “untwisted,” served in a bowls sans tortilla. Easy fix, right?
For those of you who like to sweat in solitude, consider an afternoon of paddling on Betty’s Branch. This six mile trail is a popular destination for paddlers and serves as the course for the popular paddling and festival, Benderdinker, that takes place every April. You can set in at the Riverside Boat Ramp in Evans (4431 Hardy McManus Blvd) and enjoy a peaceful, scenic paddle. Don’t be in a hurry and plan for a three hour tour. Don’t worry about getting stranded on a deserted island. You may feel like you’re miles away from civilization but you’re never more than a few minutes away from the real world.
After an afternoon of cold sweat and great food, libations will be calling your name. If your day on the water involved a tandem kayak and your significant other, make it a date night by going big and indulging in one of Columbia County’s upscale favorites, Cadawalladers Café in Martinez (106-A Davis Rd). The Creamy Parmesan Risotto with American shrimp and Bay scallops is sublime. It’s a bit indulgent, so you may consider extending your adventure another day to work off the meal!
There are plenty more edible adventures to be experienced in Columbia County, but to list them all would require more words that I can type. So, give the ideas I recommended a try then we can plan for the future. A cold winter doesn’t require living a life of slothful indolence. Working out and eating out over the winter will have you ready to go when you hear the first birds of Spring. I promise.
Randy DuTeau is Executive Director of the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau. He and his wife have two beautiful children. He is an avid cyclist and passionate about promoting Columbia County. www.ColumbiaCountyItsHere.com