In Chattahoochee National Forest, high in the north Georgia mountains, Fort Mountain Stables serves as the base camp for a 25-mile network of scenic trails at elevations between 1,600 feet and 2,000 feet. The Fort Mountain area has long attracted those daring enough to venture into the thin Georgia air to experience its dense hardwood forests, craggy cliffs, mesmerizing panoramic vistas, and eponymous 855-foot-long rock wall, thought to have been built by Native Americans. Visitors embarking on trail rides venture out into the lush Georgian foliage atop horses suited to their size and skill level while an expert guide points out notable attractions. Along the way, riders may encounter deer, turkey, or bears strolling through their natural habitat. Old talc mineshafts also populate the trails, blowing cool air out of their once-valuable depths in the summer and warm air in the winter, offering a source of warmth more pleasant than yeti breath.
The certified instructors at Creek Bend Stables have groomed world-champion horses and riders. With their expert guidance, beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders can polish their technique and avoid common blunders such as mounting the horse by climbing up its face. Lessons progress in length and depth of instruction as students age and develop skills.
While plump hens scratch the dirt for morning worms on Hidden Hills Farm & Saddle Club's 500 acres of woodlands and dewy pastures, a team of experienced trainers saddles up and prepares for trail rides and horseback lessons. Guided rides include evening saunters through the woods, and lessons teach beginners the basics of both English and Western riding styles, focusing on leadership-based interaction and addressing oft-overlooked skills such as polite horse handling and how to neigh in seven languages. Nestled in the shadows of Grindstone Mountain, the facility does its best to blend in with the natural wilderness that surrounds it; when it isn't hosting daily visitors, the staff tends to its land with sensible, sustainable farming techniques.
Over the course of Winners Circle’s 12 years of entertaining those young and old, families have raced around go-kart tracks, practiced putts on mini-golf greens, and zapped each other with lasers. They’ve also been able to race against each other, the clock, and Christopher Lloyd in running shorts in the Time Freak obstacle race, and more recently, have been able to perfect their swings in indoor and outdoor batting cages. For birthday parties, families can take advantage of a party room, arcade tokens, and pizza from Papa John’s.
Only two years ago, SeaBloom Farms was an uninhabited patch of dry grass amidst the towering trees and trickling streams of rural Sugar Valley. Today, the farmland is completely transformed—a colorful world of thick corn mazes, fruitful pumpkin patches, and bright sunflowers. Hay wagons traverse the verdant grounds, bumbling past pine trees and crops carrying passengers of visiting families and friends. Come winter, the farm staff peddles its pines as Christmas trees and treats guests to holiday-themed attractions, including hot cider and Santa-led Zumba classes.
Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, a nature preserve and landscape park, began as a vision in the 1920?s by John and Margaret Chambliss. In the late 1970s, a group of forward thinkers hatched an ambitious plan to bring Chattanooga citizens closer to nature. With the help of the Junior League of Chattanooga, the group raised more than $500,000. In September 1979, The Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center was born. Since then, the center has had more than half a million visitors to explore its 317 acres containing a certified level IV arboretum, Civil War and Cherokee history, botanical gardens, and native plants, as well as raising awareness with educational programs for adults at schoolchildren. Their efforts have helped to conserve the approximately 45 native animal species inhabiting the Wildlife Wanderland, These animal species include a bald eagle, sandhill cranes, and endangered red wolves.
State-of-the-art when it was built, the environmentally engineered main building has remained largely unchanged over the past 33 years. Features such as solar-heating systems, southern-facing windows, and 99% natural R-38 insulation continue to model sustainable-building practices to park visitors and squirrels looking to passively heat their nests.