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Destinations in Dawson: Five local destinations in Dawson County that everyone should visit
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With spots such as War Hill Park and the Edge of the World, Dawson County has dozens of locations for the whole family to have fun. - photo by Ben Hendren

Sometimes It’s hard to find time to slow down and enjoy what’s going on around you. 

Some of us probably drive by incredible things in Dawson County every day and don’t slow down to enjoy them.

Believe it or not, Dawson County is filled to the brim with destinations that draw tourists from across the state and country each year, all just around the corner, waiting to be visited.  

Here’s a few local destinations you may have missed that should be put on your day trip location list for the coming year.

Edge of the World | 7000 Hwy. 53, Dawsonville GA 30534 

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The Edge of the World offers an easy pathway to picturesque rapids. - photo by Ben Hendren

When the sun shines off of the glistening rocks of the Etowah River, people from all over can be found at the Edge of the World Trail. Whether you know it as the Amicalola Falls Trail or Fern City, families, including the dogs, can come and take in a refreshing, mostly shaded hike that will drop you off at massive rocks poking out of the rushing Etowah River. The wooden pathway remains flat and after what can’t be more than half a mile, you arrive at where the rocks open up. 

Bring a towel and tan on the rocks and in the sun, or bring an inner-tube and let the water push and pull you down the river. The possibilities are endless. 

Once you park, don’t forget to read the signs to the left of the staircase reminding visitors that this is an alcohol-free zone. Also, someone in your party must be 16 or older with a license to hunt or fish, or a lands pass. 

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Visitors can wade in the rapids or tan on the rocks. - photo by Ben Hendren

In May, Ryan Patton, a healthcare worker in Atlanta, said he was able to find time in his busy work schedule for he and his wife to bring their son, daughter, and dogs to the Edge of the World.

“It’s the perfect place to enjoy the beauty around you,” Patton said.

Grab your friends and family and come spend your day at the Edge of the World. 

Atlanta Motorsports Park

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Atlanta Motorsports Park offers a .85 mile long kart circuit and features 43 feet of elevation. - photo by Ben Hendren

Are you a thrill-seeker who would rather spend your free time full of adrenaline, than laying on a river bank? But why buy a fast car that you can’t drive fast in real life? Dawsonville has you covered in both respects at Atlanta Motorsports Park. 

Established in 2012, AMP has already been voted a Top 10 Race Track in North America by Road and Truck Magazine. Designed to meet Formula One track standards, AMP advertises itself at the first motorsports country club of its kind.

Anyone older than five can race on AMP’s .85 miles kart circuit, which features 43 feet of elevation - more than any other circuit in the entire world. 

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For just $35, you can experience burning rubber at 55 mph on the track. - photo by Ben Hendren

For just $35, you can grab a nickname to race under and experience burning rubber at 55 miles per hour. If that speed makes you nervous, don’t worry. AMP has signs up all around reminding drivers to keep their eyes up, look forward to the next point and to let the speed come to you. AMP advertises that more than 75% of their members had no previous experience driving on a track.

Marketing Manager Rosalee Gaddis said that membership opportunities are available for anybody who falls in love with the karts. A membership includes your own garage space to store your kart when you’re not using it, access to the membership lounge and of course, driving whenever.

No need to make a reservation! When in Dawsonville, stop by and burn your own rubber with your friends and family at AMP.

War Hill Park

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War Hill Park creates a safe place for friends and family to enjoy lake life without having to own lakefront property. - photo by Ben Hendren

If some time away from the computer screen and some fresh air is what you need, then War Hill Park has it all. 

Located off of Highway 53 East, War Hill Park kisses Lake Lanier, creating a safe place for friends and family to enjoy lake life without having to own lakefront property. 

You can pull up right next to the lake and leave all your fishing gear in the car while you wait for bass to take a nibble at your bait. Bring a date and enjoy a meal under the covered gazebo out in the water. Pack up for the night and bring your camping gear to the campgrounds at the back of the park. 

However, most people said they come to the park to replicate being back at the beach.

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War Hill offers opportunities for fishing, picnicking and camping. - photo by Ben Hendren

“I have so many memories of my mom packing the car up and bringing us to the lake,” War Hill Park goer Crystal Rarrick said. “There’s been so much bad weather lately that I knew people would be out here early today. So we had to come even earlier.”

On a day in May, Rarrick and her daughters were one of many groups of people that were already at the park before 10 a.m. They brought a volleyball so they could take advantage of the volleyball net set on the sand in front of the water. 

Don’t forget to spend some time splashing around in the lake too! Come take advantage of the endless choices War Hill Park has on how your family can spend some time outdoors this summer.

Appalachian Trail

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Over the spring and summer, people come every day to begin their journey along the Appalachian Trail. - photo by Ben Hendren

There’s only one town in the country that can claim it’s where hikers start the northbound trek up the Appalachian Trail. 

Inside Amicalola Falls State Park, visitors from all over will find the arch where backpackers begin their journey at the Appalachian Approach Trail, an 8.8 trip to the peak of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Along the Appalachian Trail, hikers get to see the incredible peaks of Blood Mountain, Big Cedar Mountain, Rocky Mountain, Tray Mountain and Cowrock Mountain. 

Follow along the blue markers will keep you on the trail that will go as high as 4,000 feet in elevation. If you keep hiking along the trail, eventually you’ll end up at Mount Katahdin in Maine after you’ve traveled 2,190 anyway.

Over the spring and summer, people come every day to begin their journey along the trail.

On a day in May, Paul Mahley traveled from Wisconsin with two friends to start a three-day expedition on the trail to see how they liked it, with plans of coming back and completing the entirety of the Appalachian Trail.

“We didn’t really have much of a plan,” Mahley said. “We just packed our stuff into the car and came down to Georgia to see if we really wanted to try and do this whole hike.”

The whole trail not what you came for? No worries! You can hike to the top of the falls from the same point that you would start the Appalachian Trail, and throughout Amicalola Falls State Park you’ll find other trails that people of any age can handle.

Dawson Forest

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With horseback riding, bike trails, open season hunting, marked trails and picnic areas for public use, Dawson County local Mason Moran might be justified in asking what you can’t do at Dawson Forest. - photo by Ben Hendren

“What can’t you do at Dawson Forest?”

With horseback riding, bike trails, open season hunting, marked trails and picnic areas for public use, Dawson County local Mason Moran might be justified in asking what you can’t do at Dawson Forest.

This 25,500 acre plot of land has been divided into five separate sections, with DNR Wildlife Resources owning 15,000 acres and the City of Atlanta owning the southern 10,500 acres.

Dawson Forest offers hunting of deer, bear, turkey, small game, waterfowl and dove. While deer hunts or turkey hunts are going on, the horseback riding and bike trail are closed for now. Bring your horse and come enjoy the beautiful track back-roads that crisscross the Forest.

Geocaching, a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game using devices with GPS is also active in the park.

“It’s just another cool way to come outside and be around the people you love,” Moran said. “I don't get a geocache often, but it’s another excuse to get out of the house and hang out.”

Dawson Forest is open every day of the week from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Visit georgiawildlife.com/dawson-forest-wma for more information about how you can gain your fishing or hunting license, where you can boat and much more.