I don’t go hiking very often but if something involves food (lets just say everything), then count me in. I’ve discovered with some help, that there are a ton of trails around Athens for a good hike and a good snack.
Through some recent experiences, I’ve discovered eating carbs during a hike is probably the best way to keep you active. Now, all you need to know is what trails to hit up and the delicious treats that you should be taking with you.
Hydrate before the hike
I know you’ve probably heard it a thousand times before but I’m going to tell you again anyways; water should be your main priority on a hike. If you’re going to be outside all day and moving your body, water is going to be your best friend. You can develop headaches, cramps, and dizziness if you’re not careful. Ain’t no one got time for that, so just remember water comes first.
I usually like to start at the Oconee River Greenway, which is right near campus and has 3.5 miles of paved surface. It’s super flat and is a good beginner trial for those of you who don’t want a workout but still wanna be outdoors. It follows the North Oconee River and is next to Mamas Boy. Need I say more?
Now lets talk snacks.
No-bake energy bars
Nothing is better than spending a Saturday afternoon at the Sandy Creek Park and Lake Chapman. They have three different trial options covering over 12 miles and that means you’re gonna need a couple carb fueling snacks to get your butt moving.
These no-bake energy bars are filled with creamy peanut butter, chocolate chips and whole lot of tasty goodness. Just munching on a couple of these throughout the hike will keep you full and ready to tackle those long trails. Just a heads up, you can develop a slight addiction to these.
#SpoonTip: If you accidentally pick up the unsweetened shredded coconut instead of the sweetened at the grocery store (like me), toast them on the stove and stir in a few tablespoons of sugar to sweeten it up.
Make your own trail-mix
As a college student this is always one of the easiest snacks for me to pack. You can mix in a variety of nuts and spices to add a savory flavor or just throw in some chocolate because, why not? It’s chocolate.
My favorite mixture lately has been almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cayanne pepper, salt, garlic powder and onion powder. Sometimes I’ll add a few bits of dark chocolate or raisins in there ’cause I have a major sweet tooth.
Now, where to take your mix? Ben Burton Park is a 32 acre wildlife preserve and is located off of Mitchell Bridge Rd. There’s a 1.2 mile loop trail for hiking or biking and picnic tables throughout to bring all the food you want.
Fruit is a carb too
The Watson Mill Bridge State Park is an easy drive outside of Athens and offers picturesque views of the longest covered bridge in the state. There are 7 miles of trails for hiking, and biking paths and horseback riding trails too. With numerous things to do, you’ll need small but filling snacks throughout the day to keep you going.
Simple pieces of fruit are the easiest and one of the healthiest foods to take with you hiking. Bananas, oranges and even apples are great sources of carbohydrates because of the naturally occurring sugars. You can even incorporate dried fruit into your trail mix to give it a more tropical flare.
The Botanical Gardens has six, color-designated trials for all skill types and my pre-hiking snack before I head over there is usually a LARABAR. These are all natural fruit and nut bars made with whole ingredients and minimal processing. They have over 20 flavors and each sounds like heaven in a bar, wrapped up in pretty packaging.
My personal favorite is the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip because it’s only made with four ingredients, which are peanuts, dates, chocolate chips, and sea salt. Note, these are also a tasty snack for any of you gluten free peeps.
So, if you’re in Athens don’t forget to hit up some of these beautiful trials with your furry friends and carb filled snacks. I mean what could be better? Oh, right more carbs.