Take a walk through history: The Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail opens in White County

The Mountain Traveler - Summer 2018

Complete this sentence: The Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail is …

  1. an outdoor recreation opportunity;
  2. a living history lesson;
  3. a new tourist attraction;
  4. all of the above.

The correct answer, of course, is (d). When the Helen to Hardman Heritage Trail opened to the public on April 26, 2018, it brought a long-awaited synergy to northern White County. The Alpine-themed town of Helen and the Hardman Farm State Historic Site (operated by the Georgia State Parks system) are only about a mile apart, yet until recently there was little coordination between the two.

But Will Wagner, general manager of the Hardman Farm, said the trail is already enticing Helen tourists to take a scenic stroll along the Chattahoochee River (which is free), and some are even paying admission to explore the Hardman site, a meticulously restored 19th-century working farm.

“You know the old saying, ‘It’s a two-way street’? Well, this is a ‘two-way trail,’” he said. “Both sides are benefiting from it.”

The $1 million multi-use trail (open year-round, from sunup to sundown) is one mile (each way) and paved, making it accessible for walking and biking as well as strollers and wheelchairs. Dogs are allowed as long as their leash is 6 feet or less and their owner cleans up after them.

Though the trail runs parallel to Ga. 75, it’s almost entirely next to the river.

“You don’t really see the highway at all except at the beginning and end, from the two parking lots,” Wagner said.

Along the way, signage and kiosks tell the story of the area, both of its human history – the logging days, the railroad, the Native Americans – and its diverse plant and animal life.

“Everybody knows the river is there. They drive by it all the time,” Wagner said. “But now, we’ve turned it into an intimate experience.”

To enhance that experience even further, interpretive specialists from the Hardman Farm have begun offering guided hikes along the path.                                                                                                    

For more information, call 706-878-1077 or visit gastateparks.org/HardmanFarm.

This story comes from our free publication, Mountain Traveler magazine

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