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REGISTRATION & PAYMENT REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page. This is a paid event with payment managed through the AOC. Please read the event description carefully for details; you will be given payment instructions after you sign up. Late payments are NOT accepted for this event, in any circumstance.

14th Annual Dauset Trails Spring Camping and R&R Retreat: Free Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking & Biking Trails and Zoo!

The Basics:
Event Type:Multi-Sport
Event Location: ~50 miles south of Atlanta, near I-75 Exit #198.   Multi-Sport: 14th Annual Dauset Trails Spring Camping and R&R Retreat: Free Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking & Biking Trails and Zoo!  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Fri, Apr 21 2023  7:00 pm >> Sun, Apr 23 2023 3:00 pm
Registration Opens: Fri, Feb 17 2023 9:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Apr 7 2023 4:00 pm
Event Duration:All weekend! Come & go as you please from Fri midday thru Sunday afternoon!
Difficulty Rating:D2: Easy to Moderate
Trip Leader(s):
Charlie Cottingham
Email Trip Leader(s)
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Member Cost:$25.00/Person (See Detailed Cost Info Below)

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:25
Minimum Group Size:15
Number Registered So Far: 25 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No

IN a NUTSHELL:  Ask any of the hundreds of AOCers who have enjoyed this trip with us over the years at this incredible 1800-acre nature preserve.  It's always a blast!  As usual this Spring we have exclusive reserved use of Dauset Trails' lakeside group campsite with its spacious dining pavilion and surrounding forest & recreation area for the entire 3-day 2-night weekend.  It's just 50 miles south of Atlanta via I-75 and you're welcome to arrive/ depart/ return at your convenience between midday Friday and Sunday afternoon.  (See detailed Directions below.)
  Included at no extra charge in our $25 event fee are lots of amazing extras!  Unlimited use of the Nature Center's fleet of Kayaks & Canoes (+ paddles & PFDs), 30+ miles of scenic Biking & Hiking Trails, nightly Campfires and scheduled guided Hikes including exploring together the wonderful free Zoo!  If you prefer you're also welcome to check out the trails & attractions on your own, or just "chillax" by the lake at our lovely group site - the perfect place for rest & relaxation.
   April is usually an ideal time of year to enjoy Dauset Trails and if you choose to spend one or more nights with us there are dozens of shaded campsites.  You can also sleep comfortably in one of our free "Turkey Roost" covered open-air sleeping structures (with or without a tent or hammock - see more below).
  Camping not your thing?  Since our reserved AOC group site is so conveniently close to Atlanta, feel free to do your sleeping at home if you like.  As your time permits join us for whatever appeals to you during the weekend - including our 2 provided meals, other "potluck-family-style" group meals at our dining pavilion, campfires, kayaking & canoeing, hiking, mtn biking, road biking, etc.  Our miniscule $25 event fee is the same regardless of whether you prefer being a "day tripper" or spending either or both nights with us at the group site.

"C TO THE 10TH" EVENT!  This semiannual AOC adventure and R & R getaway can aptly be described as "C to the 10th Power."  Conveniently close to Atlanta and cost-conscious, it includes group cookouts & campfires—a quality carside camping and adventure experience for outdoor enthusiasts from beginner thru expert.  As mentioned above, in lieu of bringing a tent or hammock feel free to sleep in one of our "covered-camping" Turkey Roosts (see details below).  We’ll have FREE canoeing & kayaking all weekend with the Nature Center's nice fleet of boats (+ paddles & lifejackets) in the pretty lake by our dining pavilion and s usual free on-request classes in basic paddling strokes & skills for any who request it.  There are also great cycling & Hiking opportunities on the huge network of wooded trails—so don't forget your hiking shoes or boots and if you have a hybrid or mountain bike, consider bringing it!  For the benefit of any who may be new to any of such wilderness pursuits, we'll have experienced AOC volunteers on hand to offer free counseling in the basic skills of Camping, Hiking, Cycling, Paddling and the lore of GA's beautiful native plants and animals.  An amazing free bonus of the Nature Center is its 15-acre “Critter Corral” a.k.a. the "Wildlife Trail,"  This shady open-air zoo with its adjoining lakeside Visitor Center, Museum & Botanical Garden display dozens of GA's native wild mammals, birds, reptiles & fish and native plants in a picturesque setting.  On each trip we offer a guided ~2-hour Saturday "Orientation Hike" from our campsite to enjoy all that and more!  You newcomers will quickly see why we Dauset "veterans" love this in-Credible place!

MORE about CAMPING and optional sleeping in our covered "TURKEY ROOSTS":
There's plenty of level shady campsite space around our dining pavilion and lake, and for any who prefer more privacy it's fine to pitch your tent (or hang your hammock) in any of the many clearings in the adjoining forest.   From our group site 
parking area it's just a 2- or 3-minute walk to any of the dozens of beautiful tent or hammock sites.  Esp. if the weather happens to be unusually wet or cool, feel free to sleep inside your own vehicle or RV, as I (Charlie) often do!  The three open-sided roofed Turkey Roosts are available at no extra charge and adjoin the lakeside tent sites.  Each can sleep up to about six, with or without tents and has two "stories" of wooden decks (~12 feet wide by ~10 feet front-to-back) with stairs and surrounding safety railings.  To sleep in one without a tent simply lay your pad and sleeping bag directly on the deck and perhaps pat a little insect repellent on your face and neck as you go to bed. If it's rainy and you have a small- to medium-sized self-supporting dome-style tent (and there's available space) feel free to pitch it directly on one of the covered decks—no rain fly necessary!

Our spacious lakeside Dining Pavilion conveniently adjoins the group campsite's large free parking area.  The building is well-equipped for preparing & serving family-style group meals - also ideal for getting together to socialize, play games, etc.  Its excellent shelter helps assure that we can enjoy the trip "rain-or-shine." It has eight large picnic tables, clean restrooms, safe running water, hot showers, and electric lights & outlets.  The king-sized raised charcoal grill is ideal for roasting burgers, brats, steak, fish, chicken, foil-wrapped items, etc.  It's appropriate to bring our own food & beverage coolers with plenty of ice, and the roof-shaded perimeter of the pavilion is a convenient place to consolidate them over the weekend along with our other meals-related things.  Extra bagged ice is usually available for purchase about a 5-mile drive away.  The Club will provide a limited supply of napkins, paper towels, steel silverware, cooking utensils, etc. for group use at the Pavilion all weekend.  Our Club policy is to minimize the amount of disposables, so to "Be Green" please bring your own personal insulated and covered drinking mug and your own personal washable plate and bowl, plus personal knife, fork & spoon.  We’ll provide a hot-water dishwashing station, "camp suds," scrubbing pads, & towels, and will recruit a small crew to wash & dry dishes after each group meal.

GROUP MEALS DETAILS for all who'd like to participate:
These have been lots of fun in the past and everyone is encouraged to participate!  For either of these 2 meals, if you'd like to participate just bring 5 or 6 servings of a single food or beverage item to share - ideally something you personally enjoy and can easily prepare & serve.  On Friday evening, for the benefit of those who arrive by about 7:30 PM, the Pavilion's charcoal grill will be lit (by about 6:30) and implements provided.  If you'd like to use it please plan to grill just a few servings to help assure adequate space for everyone.
"" is a free website that makes it easy for each of us to use interactive online forms to enter what Food & Refreshment items, Dining Supplies, Cooking Gear, etc can bring to share.  We encourage everyone to do so ASAP for the benefit of the group.  We can easily see what there may be too little of or too much of and re-edit the form to adjust our own planned contributions accordingly.  Please ASAP click, etc. below (Sep 15th or later) and take a few minutes to enter what items & gear you'd like to bring - then simply show up for the meal and prepare/ serve your items.  The forms list the various categories of items and examples of appropriate quantities, etc.
- Friday Evening Group DINNER     (~7:00 - 8:00 PM):  ( Dinner Signup Link will be inserted here by Apr 1st.)
- Saturday AM Group BREAKFAST (~7:30 - 9:30 AM):  
( Bkfast Signup Link will be inserted here by Apr 1st.)

Sat & Lun informal Lunches: For those of us who happen to be at the campsite at midday on Sat or Sun we enjoy putting out various tasty "potluck" items in the pavilion to share, but we don't bother pre-planning specific Lunch contributions.  If you expect to be away from the campsite hiking, biking, exploring, etc. consider carrying a light daypack or fanny pack with  a few snack items such as fruit, a sandwich, trail mix, cookies, etc.—plus water, smartphone, camera, etc.

CLUB-PROVIDED MEALS SAT EVENING & SUN AM: For this trip the AOC event leader(s) will provide the main ingredients and supplies for a big Saturday evening cookout meal (~6:00-8:00pm) and for a hot Sunday morning breakfast (~7:30-9:30am).  Tasty leftovers from our previous potluck-style meals are also appreciated to add to the variety!

FOR MORE about DAUSET TRAILS NATURE CENTER check out their excellent website  Their Visitor Center Phone Number is 770-775-6798.  Founded in 1977 and just 50 miles south of Atlanta, the ~2000-acre preserve focuses on environmental education and outdoor activities for nature lovers of all ages. Most of the beautiful property and funding for the Nature Center's long-term management were privately endowed by two highly esteemed local citizens, Hamp Daughtry and David Settles - hence the coined name, DAU-SET."  Friendly hard-working staffers oversee the Visitor Center & Museum, Antique Barnyard, Botanical Gardens, Zoo and other amazing free attractions discussed above. For a set of handy color Maps, including the  ~30-mile network of hiking & biking trails click here:  Our lakeside group camping area surrounds "Pavilion 2" and the "Chapel" by Junction "18" in the center of the "Bike & Hike" map.
  An added bonus of Dauset Trails is that it directly adjoins historic Indian Springs State Park and both are just a 10-minute drive from lovely High Falls State Park.  These sister parks likewise boast fabulous hiking trails, forests and lakes - also feature waterfalls, botanical gardens, and nearby country stores, ice cream shops, etc.  Click here for the Indian Springs State Park map:

FOR hundreds of colorful DAUSET TRAILS PHOTOS:
  Google on "Dauset Trails Photos" 
and then click "View all" below the first block of images that appears.
Thanks to Angela Nelson for the above beautiful group "beach & boats" shot taken on our May 2009 Dauset Trails trip.

Required Items to Bring:

•  Sleeping Bag (or Sheet & Blanket, if you sleep at campsite either or both nights)
•  Sleeping Pad & Pillow (if spending either or both nights)
•  Clothing, Athletic Shoes & Rain Gear appropriate for weather forecast
•  Toiletries, Towel & Washcloth
•  Headlamp & extra Batteries

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

Tent or Hammock + Rain Tarp, etc. if wet weather is forecast  (I.e., if you're spending 1 or more nights.  Or as discussed above, sleep in a roofed "Turkey Roost" structure with or without a small dome tent. We've had remarkably few biting insects on past trips!)
Large Cooler with plenty of Ice & favorite Food & Beverages*   (Please be aware that Dauset Trails' policy that consumption of alcohol while on park property is officially prohibited.)
For each group "Potluck Meal" that you'd like to participate in (see above) just bring some Item or prepared Dish of your choice to contribute - also an extra Cooler with extra Ice might come in handy - the nearest store is several miles away.  Consider pre-freezing some bottles or jugs of water—use them for longer-lasting and less messy solid ice in your food cooler and you can also drink the cold water as it melts inside the plastic container.  The piped water at our dining pavilion is perfectly fine to drink and to use for cooking, cleaning, etc., but has a slightly sulfury taste when first drawn from the tap. 

Camp Stove if you have one (+ fuel canisters) + Large covered Pot & Pan.
Folding Camp Chair for Pavilion Area & Campfires + Firewood, if you have some on hand and can conveniently bring!
Personal Drinking Mug, Plate, Bowl, & Knife/Fork/Spoon
• Covered plastic Food Storage Box (+ Ziploc Bags, etc.) for perishable food items.
Camera/ ZSmartPone w/extra Batteries, memory, card, etc.
Mountain Bike (+ Helmet) if you have one and would like to use it to explore the hiking/biking trails network surrounding our campsite area.
Fishing Rod & Tackle if you'd like to fish in the lake by our campsites.
The Nearest Stores are Several Miles Away! - So it's best to bring everything we may need for the weekend - including plenty of ice (perhaps in an extra cooler).  Our dining pavilion has hot & cold running water (safe to drink) and plenty of electric outlets & overhead lights.  We can conserve Coleman fuel, etc. by utilizing onsite electricity.  Trip leaders will bring for group use a large electric coffee percolator and hotplate - even a small microwave for heating beverages, etc.

How to Get There:
Event Directions:


IMPORTANT:  Please pay close attention to the numbered verbal Directions  below. They give the precise mileages between turns and explain the special entrance & exit procedures for reaching our remote AOC Group Site.  Don't try to rely solely on GPS!  (As an adjunct to these directions you GPS users can enter Lat/Lon 33.2321,-83.9489 as coordinates of our special AOC entrance gate discussed in detail below.)
  Our reserved AOC group site is roughly half-way between Atlanta and Macon - just 8 miles east of the I-75 "High Falls Rd" Exit.  For many Atlantans this is normally only about a 1-hour drive except during "rush hour."  For a zoomable map & satellite view of our special Camper entrance gate and its surrounding area click the rectangular blue & green "Event Location" icon near the top of this article.
1.  From the southside I-75/ I-285 Interchange (east of the Atlanta Airport) take I-75 South about 35 miles and get off at Exit #198, "High Falls Rd." (If you live on Atlanta’s east side consider this shortcut:   From I-285 Exit #52 take I-675 southward to I-75 South, then it's just 29 miles further to Exit #198 at High Falls Rd.)
2.  Turn Left onto High Falls Road (over the I-75 bridge) and go 4.6 miles to Mt. Vernon Church Road (passing through High Falls State Park en route).
3.  Turn Right onto Mt Vernon Church Rd, go 3.0 miles and look for a gravel road on on your left with a sign that says, "Dauset Trails Nature Center...Group Camping Entrance."   You GPS users may wish to enter the following Lat/Lon coordinates of this gravel entrance as your "destination address": 33.2321,-83.9489  (If you happen to overshoot this entrance, in just 0.1 mile you'll reach the main Dauset Trails paved entrance, in which case you should make a U-turn and backtrack to this proper entrance near the street address "389 Mount Vernon Road.")
4.  Turn Left off Mt. Vernon Church Road onto the gravel "Camping" entrance road discussed above, and bear leftward for about 100 yards where you’ll arrive at a steel gate. (The gate is just beyond a “check-in bulletin board” and gravel parking lot for mountain bikers & other “day-use” visitors.)  CRUCIAL DETAIL:  Drive through this gate toward our Camping Area as follows: The gate is normally "Fake-locked" with an old padlock on a chain.  Simply lift the end of the chain off the nail, open the gate, proceed through it with your vehicle, then reclose the gate just as you found it by wrapping the chain and padlock around the gatepost and re-hooking it on the nail.
5.  Then drive beyond this Camping gate about 0.8 mile northward via the gravel road to our  lakeside campers’ Dining Pavilion ("Group Pavilion #2") on your right.  There's plenty of free Parking along both sides of the gravel roadway.  (By the way, just before you reach the Pavilion area you'll pass through a second steel gate that is normally left unlocked for reserved camping groups.  We like to leave this second gate in the OPEN all weekend.  If you arrive early and find this 2nd gate locked, feel free to ask a ranger at the nearby Nature Center Office to assist you, and you could try reaching them by phone at 770-775-6798.)
6.  When you arrive, park initially at the pavilion, and consolidate there your coolers, camp chairs, and cooking/dining gear, etc.  If other AOCers have already arrived they can assist you in choosing a campsite. The main tent camping area  is in the forest near the lake, about 100 to 200 yards to the right of the pavilion beyond the little open-air chapel.  The “Turkey Roost” camping platforms are about 50 yards beyond this tent camping area, via the same forested trail.

Important information for paid events in which payment is managed through the AOC:

     - Payment must be received by the payment due date and prior to participation in the event.

     - Some paid events require a minimum number of registered participants. If that number is not met, the event will be canceled and refunds will be issued to those who have already paid.

     - Third-party vendors often require damage deposits. Each registrant agrees to be liable for and required to reimburse the Atlanta Outdoor Club for any withheld deposits due to the actions of or damages caused by that registrant.

     - No partial payments. All registrants must pay the posted Member Cost regardless of any agreement you may have with any party involved in the event.

     - Read the event description carefully for additional information, and contact the trip leader(s) with any questions.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cost & Payment:
Member Cost:$25.00/Person
Cost Includes:

• Weekend-long optional Camping in shady tent or hammock sites or in "Turkey Roost" open-sided roofed structures.
     (Sleep at home if you prefer.  The huge lakeside group campsite is reserved exclusively for AOC.)
• Large lakeside group Dining Pavilion with clean Restrooms, Hot Showers, Flush Toilets,
      + potable hot & cold Water, electric Outlets and adjoining free Parking,
• Saturday evening Cookout & Dinner Party (All weekend a Dishwashing Station and
      limited Disposables & Utensils are provided at the Pavilion.),
• Sunday morning Hot Group Breakfast (+ hot brewed Coffee for group both mornings),
• Use of Kayaks & Canoes (about 15 boats of various styles + paddles & lifejackets) - exclusively all weekend for our reserved group, in lake by our camping area, 
• Use of ~20 miles of Hiking & Mountain Biking Trails + amazing free Zoo, Botanical Gardens, 1920's-era Farm and
      much more!  (+ optional guided AOC hikes, etc. to enjoy the trails & attractions together.)
• 'Round-the-Campfire Fun & Fellowship + dark-sky stargazing - both nights, weather permitting.

Payment Cut Off:Payment must be received by the AOC on Fri, Apr 7 2023.
Make a Payment:Click here for the details. PLEASE PAY AFTER YOU HAVE SIGNED UP BELOW.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.

It is your responsibility to get your event payment in on time to our AOC Treasurer, by 4:00 PM on Fri April 7th.  Please allow at least two days for processing a PayPal (preferred) or Electronic Funds Transfer transaction.  If you pay by check it should ideally be hand-carried to an AOC Officer or Treasurer by the payment deadline.  Paying via a mailed check should pre-approved by the AOC Treasurer.

CANCELLATION POLICY:  If you cancel on or before April 7th, full payment will be refunded less a $3 administrative fee to cover processing of the payment and refund. No refund for cancellation after April 7th unless another AOC member replaces you and pays in full, and then you may request a refund less the $3 fee.  No partial payment for partial attendance will be accepted or returned.  This is considered a "Rain-or-Shine" AOC Event, esp. since we have such excellent shelter in Dauset Trails' spacious dining pavilion and "turkey roost" structures - also since we have quick access to our vehicles. 

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