Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in.
Dinner: In the Conference Center’s Peach Dining Room, our buffet meal includes a salad bar and dessert, soft drinks, coffee, tea, water.
Evening: Orientation: The location of our meeting room will be posted. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Given the highly active nature of this program, we encourage you to bring comfortable and sturdy walking shoes along with your own water bottles for refill throughout the week. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
Activity note: Hiking up to 6 miles; elevations from 830-1,400 feet; well-worn trails, roots, some rocky areas, creek crossings.
Breakfast: In our Peach Dining Room, the breakfast buffet includes a selection of fruit and a variety of beverages including coffee, tea, water.
Morning: We will meet on the front porch and start out towards the trailhead for the Ridge Trail. On our hike, we will explore some of the property at Cohutta Springs before venturing into the Chattahoochee National Forest. This forest spans 750,000 acres and derives its name from the Chattahoochee River that begins way up in the mountains of northern Georgia. In the language of the Muscogee, Chattahoochee translates as "marked or flowered stones.” This first hike will be at a leisurely pace on a shaded trail winding along the side of a ridge and is about 2 miles in length. We should arrive back to the lodge in time to freshen up before lunch.
Lunch: In our Peach Dining Room, the lunch buffet includes a salad bar, dessert, and variety of beverages.
Afternoon: After lunch, we will meet on the front porch at 2pm and continue hiking on the property. We will explore 4-5 miles of our mountain bike trails that will lead us to the highest point on the property. These shaded trails are gently sloping with many switch backs. There are some rocky areas, but mostly hard-packed dirt. Pull out your cameras as we stop for a rest at the gazebo overlooking the lake, conference center, and surrounding mountains. We’ll then head back to the lodge for a history hayride, followed by time to freshen up and relax before supper.
Dinner: Peach Dining Room, buffet supper, salad bar, dessert, and a variety of drinks to choose from.
Evening: For the adventurous, we’ll have an opportunity to glide over the lake on our 1/4 mile (1,100 feet) zip line. We’ll climb the ladder to the platform, don helmets, get strapped in, and take off into the night, looking up at the stars, and coming to rest on a lit landing pad. Those who prefer to watch are welcome to do so. Or just relax at the lodge.
Activity note: Hiking up to 6 miles; trail begins at 600 feet, very little elevation gain; first section has a few rocky/rooted areas, second part paved and flat; bus ride to trailhead is 37 miles – about 45 minutes.
Breakfast: Peach Dining Room buffet.
Morning: We will meet on the front porch and load the Blue Bird bus for our ride to the John Muir Trailhead for our hike along the scenic Hiwassee River. We will be following in the footsteps of the great naturalist John Muir, who hiked from Kentucky to Florida. He outlines this particular area in his book "A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf." The shaded trail ranges from easy to moderate. We’ll follow along the river for about 3 miles passing below tall rock outcroppings and through forested areas.
Lunch: In a picnic area by the river’s edge, we’ll have a buffet-style meal, consisting of sandwich-making materials, a variety of soup, and desert. There will be bottled water available as well.
Afternoon: We’ll continue on our hike for about 3 more miles to the Appalachia Power Plant. This section of the trail follows a paved road along the river. Our stopping point is a suspension foot bridge over the Hiwassee River. From here we will load the bus and return to the lodge. Later in the afternoon, we will take a short commute to our gold-panning trough (on the property) so everyone can try their hand at panning for real gold, purchased from Dahlonega, GA. In 1829, this town was the location of the first gold rush in the US and originated its name from the Cherokee language, meaning yellow or gold. Relax on a bench as you learn to swirl the pan in a long elevated trough filled with water. With some patience, you can watch the sand wash away, leaving behind flakes of gold. Keep whatever you find in a little container. Then it’s time to freshen up and relax before supper.
Dinner: Peach Dining Room buffet.
Evening: A local bluegrass band will perform especially for you in the lodge this evening. The specific meeting room will be noted in your schedules. Then get a good night’s rest before our hike tomorrow.
Activity note: Bus ride to trailhead is about 63 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Hiking up to 7 miles; elevation ranges 1,400-1,950 feet; moderate-to-difficult hiking; some steep, rocky terrain. Waterfalls Trail, 2 miles long, is rated as difficult; there is a less strenuous option available.
Breakfast: Peach Dining Room buffet.
Morning: This morning, everyone will need to prepare for a longer commute to Cloudland Canyon State Park. This deep gorge located on Lookout Mountain is known for its breathtaking views of tree-lined rock bluffs and two waterfalls, one at 60 feet and the other dropping 90 feet. We will begin by hiking on “one of the most scenic trails in the nation”, the West Rim Loop trail, which is 5 miles in length and follows along the far side of the canyon wall. This trail offers many picture-taking opportunities as the trees open up to view the waterfalls below and the rock bluffs covered in brilliant orange and red fall leaves. While some overlooks are fenced in, others are not and one should take extreme caution when venturing near the edge. Along the way, this mostly shaded trail is constantly changing terrain from mostly rocky and rooted to narrow dirt path. Prepare to have your heart pumping as we wind through boulder-strewn areas and climb and descend along tight switchbacks and over creeks. There will be moments to rest and rehydrate as we stop to enjoy the many scenic overlooks. As we begin to loop back towards the parking area, we will retrace some of our original steps. Now it’s time for lunch.
Lunch: We’ll relax in a picnic area to enjoy a hot buffet lunch, desert, and extra bottled water.
Afternoon: We’ll continue hiking, but this time on the out and back Waterfalls Trail, which is 2 miles in length and rated as difficult. Waterfalls Trail descends to the canyon floor along towering rock walls and over rocky dirt path and 600 metal steps. But as one catches a glimpse of Cherokee falls, cascading 60 feet into a pool below, one starts to forget about the climb back up. Now it’s time to view a 90 foot waterfall, Hemlock falls, a little further down the trail before retracing your steps back to the top of the canyon. Relax on the bus as we head to Cohutta for some relaxation time before dinner.
Dinner: Peach Dining Room buffet.
Evening: We’ll head down to our 55-acre lake for a relaxing pontoon boat ride. Afterwards, everyone is welcome to sit by an outside fireplace and make tasty s'mores.
Activity note: Bus ride to trailhead is about 20 miles—approximately 1 hour. Hiking up to 9 miles, medium to fast paced; out and back trail ranked moderate with a few technical areas and creek crossings; ranges in elevation from 1,450-1,760 feet; bring extra socks.
Breakfast: Peach Dining Room buffet. In addition, there will be a variety of deli meats and sandwich-making material, snacks, and fruit laid out for everyone to make their own sack lunches to have later on the trail.
Morning: We will load the Blue Bird bus for a commute to Beech Bottom Trailhead, the more direct route to Jacks River Falls. Located in the Cohutta Wilderness, this out and back trail is just a little over 4 miles to the falls and begins with a slow descent over a wide path. It is ranked as moderate and has several creek crossings. You may want to bring extra socks! While there are some rocky and rooted areas, this section of trail is well worn and an easy hike. About a mile in, be on the lookout for two large trees that were untouched by early century loggers. Near the end of Beech Bottom Trail several mysterious rock mounds may catch your eye, quite possibly remnants of a Native American burial site. Also, in the late 1800s this area was home to a sawmill and later a logging camp and eventually farmland with a couple of homesteads. As this shaded trail continues on, it descends to connect with the Jack's River Falls trail at 3.9 miles, soon you will hear water roaring in the distance. As you hike along the crystal clear river, begin to follow a more narrow path to the bottom of the falls. Sit on the rocks and enjoy a sack lunch to the sound of the tumbling water.
Lunch: We’ll stop on the trail by the waterfall and have boxed lunches.
Afternoon: We’ll return to the lodge the way we came with time to freshen up before supper.
Dinner: Peach Dining Room buffet.
Evening: We’ll gather to view a slideshow highlighting the week's activities then have our graduation ceremony.
Activity note: Hotel check out by 10:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Peach Dining Room buffet. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and we look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!