Auburn Off the Map: Outdoor Escapes
In our latest edition of Auburn Off the Map, we’re highlighting four of our favorite outdoor escapes.
Each of these parks offers a little something for everyone, but don’t just take our word for it. Read our breakdown, and then go explore them for yourself!
Chewacla State Park
The first stop on our list is the ever-popular Chewacla State Park. If you haven’t been there yet, don’t wait another second — get out there! We think a daytrip to Chewacla should be on everybody’s “Auburn Bucket List.” It’s that great, and it’s full of exciting activities. You can hammock by the cascading waterfalls and discover hidden geocaches. Or maybe you’d be interested in the various hiking and biking trails that twist and turn through the landscape. It’s the perfect place to get out and break a sweat!
There’s a $4 entrance fee to enter the park, but it lasts for the full day, so you’re welcome to leave and later return. Pets are allowed and bikes are encouraged! The park, located at 124 Shell Toomer Parkway, opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. — unless you are camping overnight — so start early to make the most of your day. Also, if you are into canoeing, paddle boarding or kayaking, make sure to check out the 26-acre lake where you can rent all three! Grab your hiking boots, bring a bathing suit, and get ready to discover everything this place has to offer.
Open every day from sunrise to sunset, Davis Arboretum is a stress-free outdoor oasis. There is no fee to enter, and it’s located at 181 Garden Drive, which is pretty close to campus. This hidden getaway is perfect for students who need a break from the books!
Grab a brochure from the pavilion, and take a self-guided tour along the 11 stops dotting the Arboretum’s various paths! Also, we love how you can schedule events here. There are even discounts for students and organizations! In addition to scheduling your own event, Auburn hosts annual events here, so check this calendar for details.
One downside is you must have an Auburn University Parking Pass during the week in order to park at the three locations offered, which can be a hassle for students who park off campus. Don’t worry, though! Weekend and holiday parking is open to all. So, if you’re looking to enjoy a quiet afternoon surrounded by beautiful flowers or wanting to find a relaxing place to read a good book, grab your ENO and get cozy at this one-of-a-kind park.
Town Creek Park
You can find our next stop right down the road. Not far from campus, Town Creek Park is tucked away behind the trees off of Gay Street. A children’s playground and a building for restrooms stand out as you pass by. Although little is visible from the road, a closer look reveals a neatly hidden running trail.
The park’s almost-a-mile-long trail covers most of its area, looping around a large pond and continuing past an outdoor fitness area. One of our favorite features is a fenced-in area for pets. Across the street you’ll find the Historic Tree Trail, a feature that can turn your regular running route into an educational escape.
Swings and benches are scattered throughout, which offer you plenty of opportunities to sit down and relax. The grass out front is also perfect for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon, so grab a few friends — plus their pups — and take advantage of the green grounds.
Kreher Preserve and Nature Center
Donated by Dr. Louise Kreher Turner and her husband in 1993, Kreher Preserve and Nature Center has been a part of Auburn’s diverse outdoors experience for more than two decades. Comprised of 120 acres and full of fun exhibits, the KPNC is located at 2222 N. College St.
Admission is free and spacious parking is available, so arriving is hassle-free. Once inside, look for a trail guide to find a map of the 30 walking trails that cover more than five miles. We loved walking the various trails, especially the Wildflower Trail. We also enjoyed visiting the Butterfly and Vegetable Gardens and the Hidden Falls.
Interested in attending a Nature Walk and learning more about Auburn’s beautiful ecology and wildlife? Come by the preserve the second week of each month on Thursday between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. to experience it for free! Bike riding and pets are prohibited, though, so keep that in mind when planning a day at the park!
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Hannah C. and Jack P.