Sandy Creek Nature Center
- 205 Old Commerce Rd., Athens, GA 30601
Featuring 225 acres of woodlands and wetlands, the Sandy Creek Nature Center is a gateway to outdoor exploration. Twelve trails, including an ADA interpretive trail are available with connections to the North Oconee River Greenway and Cook's Trail. Binoculars, Identiflyers, and educational Trail Packs can be checked out for free at the Education & Visitor Center.
The Education and Visitor Center includes live reptiles, amphibians, marine and freshwater aquariums, interactive natural history exhibits, and an incredible resource library all housed in an eco-friendly building. There is also a circa 1815 Log House and several wildlife observation areas on site.
Come and explore their small planetarium and newly-expanded exhibit hall with interactive learning centers that feature the wetlands, coastal, woodlands, agricultural and urban environments of Northeast Georgia. The Frog Pond Shop with its variety of nature-based gifts is popular with all ages. The shop is open during nature center hours.
- Pine Ridge Trail, ADA Interpretive Trail:
Starting at the rear of the Education and Visitor Center, this walker- and wheelchair-accessible boardwalk enters woodlands and continues to a tributary of the Oconee River. Great short trail for all ages. Features interpretive areas and a wildlife observation blind.
* Look for: Animals at the observation blind, changes in forest from upland to wetlands near the creek.
- Brick Factory Loop & Log House Loop
Starting at Walker Hall, these trails form several loops around the ruins of the Georgia Brick Company (circa 1900) and an early 1800's log cabin moved on-site from Oglethorpe County in 1980.
* Look for: Building foundations, collapsed chimney remains, squirrel nests, lizards in sunny spots at the log house
- Claypit Pond Trail
Starting at Walker Hall, the trail passes through the brick factory ruins, turning left down steps to the pond's edge. Follows the shoreline halfway around the pond.
* Look for: Beaver sign and lodge on the small island in the pond, turtles basking on logs, fish, frogs, snakes, great blue heron.
- Cook's Trail (closed)
This Greenway trail connects Sandy Creek Nature Center with Sandy Creek Park. Not a loop; length is one way. Wander along Sandy Creek through woodlands and wetlands. See the Cook’s Trail map for more information. Floods in the wet season!
- Crossridge Trail
Connects Kingfisher Pond Trail with the Claypit Pond Trail, passing through pine/ hardwoods and crossing the Pine Ridge Trail. Slopes slippery when wet!
* Look for: Sapsucker holes in large pines, mushrooms (in wet weather)
- Hooded Warbler Trail
A short loop in the upper Claypit Pond wetlands. Dense thickets of privet and tall trees make excellent cover for many bird species.
* Look for: Warblers and orioles, salamanders, ferns
- Kestrel Trail
Named for a small falcon that may be seen in the forest edge area. The trail follows the Oconee River floodplain with several vistas of the river. Continues through the extreme northern end of the property in wooded uplands.
* Look for: Deer and turkey in edges between the woods and fields, turtles, occasional otters in the Oconee River
- Kingfisher Pond Trail
This trail winds through the Oconee River floodplain along Kingfisher Pond and follows a creek for most of its length.
* Look for: Mayapple and other wildflowers near the southern end of the trail, signs of beaver activity around the pond, animal tracks in the mud, waterfowl, turtles, snakes, kingfishers
- Levee Trail
Follows Sandy Creek past the Log House and continues to the confluence of the North Oconee River and Sandy Creek. Returns through the floodplain of the Oconee River. Not passable in high water.
* Look for: Signs of beaver and raccoon along river and creek banks, turtles, herons, huge sycamore trees
- Oconee Trail
Starting at a curve in Old Commerce Road, the trail descends to the North Oconee River and loops back through hardwood floodplain forest. Floods in the wet season.
* Look for: Birds in the privet, salamanders, occasional river otters
- Pine Ridge Trail
Walk along the highest point on the property and get a panoramic view of Claypit Pond. Stretches between the Allen House and Walker Hall, passing through mixed pine/ hardwood forest with areas of dense shrub growth.
* Look for: Signs of squirrel and woodpecker, spring wildflowers under the hardwoods, birds
- Screech Owl Trail
The trail roams through dense woods, climbing to a rocky outcrop and crossing an old roadbed. Passes stands of large pines and other upland trees.
*Look for: Signs of previous agriculture, exposed rock, changes from floodplain to upland habitat
•Picnic and recreational areas along the Greenway riverwalk
View the Meeting Space tab below for additional meeting specifications.