IN a NUTSHELL: Ask any of the hundreds of AOCers who have enjoyed this trip in the past. It's a blast!! Our home away from home for the weekend will be the huge lakeside group camping area at Dauset Trails Nature Center, an easy 1-hour drive south of Atlanta (see detailed directions & links below). You're welcome to arrive as early as 9:00 AM Fri (or as late as midday Saturday) and stay as late as mid-afternoon Sunday.
Our unbelievably low event fee ($25 due to AOC by "Good Friday" Apr 18 - see below) includes two delicious group meals and a wide variety of exciting optional activities—big campfires, unlimited free use of Dauset Trails' fleet of kayaks & canoes, its miles of scenic mountain biking/ hiking trails, and much more—including just relaxing at our lovely campsite by the lake!
Camping not your thing?! Since our Dauset Trails group campsite & pavilion are so conveniently close to Atlanta, feel free to do your sleeping at home and join us for our many other great activities all weekend. But our $25 event fee includes exclusive use of Dauset Trails' campsites & covered camping structures all weekend (see more below) and its huge roofed dining pavilion with its big picnic tables and charcoal grills—even hot showers, heated restrooms (w/flush toilets!), electric light and numerous outlets. There's ample free parking directly beside our pavilion and camping area.
"C TO THE 10TH" EVENT! This semi-annual AOC adventure and R & R getaway can aptly be described as "C to the 10th Power" The event is Convenient, Close, and Cost-Conscious, and even includes big Cookouts & Campfires—a great Carside Camping and adventure experience for outdoor enthusiasts from beginner thru expert. There are even Covered-Camping open-sided "Turkey Roost" structures (see below) for those who prefer sleeping with a roof above you with or without a tent. We’ll have FREE weekend-long Canoeing and Kayaking - paddles & lifejackets included! - with the Nature Center's own fleet of boats - plus Swimming, weather permitting - in the lake by our campsite. There are also great Cycling and Hiking opportunities, including leader-led group Mountain Bike rides and hikes on the huge network of wooded trails—so bring your hybrid or mountain bike if you have one and don't forget your hiking shoes or boots.
For the benefit of any who may be new to any of these wilderness pursuits, we'll have experienced AOC volunteers on hand to offer free Counseling in the basic skills of Camping, Hiking, Kayaking & Canoeing, and the lore of GA's beautiful native plants and animals.
A huge bonus of the Nature Center is its free 15-acre “Critter Corral,” a.k.a. the "wildlife trail" and its adjoining visitor center/museum —displaying dozens of GA's native wild mammals, birds, reptiles and fish in a picturesque lakeside setting.
You newcomers will quickly discover why hundreds of AOCers have fallen in love with this in-Credible place as I have! -Charlie Cottingham ("C only to the 2nd power!" :-)
TENT CAMPING FACILITIES: There's plenty of nicely shaded level campsite space near the lake and dining pavilion, and for any who prefer more privacy it's fine to pitch your tent in any of the many flat clearings in the adjoining forest. If you prefer you're welcome to sleep on one of the convenient “Turkey Roost” platforms on a first-come-first-serve basis - see below. From our parking area by the pavilion it's less than a 3-minute walk to any of the dozens of beautiful tent sites. Also, sleep inside your vehicle or RV if you prefer, as I often do!
“TURKEY ROOST” COVERED CAMPING STRUCTURES: These three open-sided roofed buildings are available to us at no extra charge and conveniently adjoin our tent sites. Each Turkey Roost can sleep up to about six with or without tents. Each has two wooden deck "stories" (~12 feet wide by ~10 feet front-to-back) with stairs and surrounding safety railings. If you have a medium-size or small dome-style tent feel free to pitch it directly on one of the covered decks—no rain fly or stakes necessary! To sleep in a Turkey Roost 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.
GROUP MEALS: The lakeside dining pavilion by the campsites and parking area has eight large picnic tables, and is ideally suited for preparing meals and dining together in a friendly group such as ours. Its excellent shelter means that we can be confident of enjoying the trip "rain-or-shine." Large coolers are appropriate to bring, with plenty of ice to preserve our favorite beverages and food items – the pavilion is the perfect shady place to consolidate them over the weekend. The king-size raised charcoal grill by the pavilion is ideal for group barbecuing.
For this trip the AOC event leaders will provide the main ingredients and supplies for a big Saturday evening meal (~7:00 - 8:30pm) and for Sunday morning hot breakfast (~8:00 - 9:30am).
We’ll also host optional “potluck-style” group meals at the Pavilion for our Fri dinner (~7:30 - 8:30pm) Sat breakfast (~8:00-9:30am) and Sat & Sun lunches (~12:30 -1:30 both days). For any potluck-style meals that you choose to take part in, simply show up and contribute an ingredient or two of your choice - or a small prepared dish, salad, dessert, beverage etc. (Something you like personally and that might serve 4 or 5 others. E.g., for Fri Dinner perhaps an hors d'oeuvre plate, pre-cooked covered dish, grilled item, salad, dessert item, etc. For Sat breakfast: perhaps a dozen eggs, pound of bacon, quart of juice, fresh fruit, half-dozen bagels, etc.) – also please do your share to help with food prep, cooking & cleanup for all of our meals at the Pavilion.
"PerfectPotluck.com" is a free website that gives potluck meal participants convenient access to a well organized online chart of items that each person wishes to contribute. You can easily see what there may be too little of or too much of and insert or adjust your own contribution accordingly! Our AOC "Group Password" if you need it is AOC2014. Here are the links for our two main potluck-style meals Fri evening and Sat morning:
For our Friday Evening Potluck "Cookout Dinner" click this link and enter an item that you like to bring: http://www.perfectpotluck.com/meals.php?t=DJME3771&v=25dc2d02d6
For our Saturday Potluck Breakfast click this link and enter an item that you'd like to bring: http://www.perfectpotluck.com/meals.php?t=YLGS4096&v=25dc2d02d6
On Friday evening, for the benefit of those who arrive by about 7:30 PM, the Pavilion's charcoal grill will be lit and implements provided for those who would like to barbecue a REASONABLE-sized personal item of your own: e.g., a piece of steak, chicken breast, a few hotdogs or burgers, etc.
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.
TUE APR 8 "PRE-TRIP PLANNING HAPPY HOUR," 6:30 - 7:00 PM prior to AOC SOCIAL at TACO MAC (Esp. recommended for Dauset Trails newcomers!): If your schedule permits, please plan to join us for this informal drop-in gathering just before our regular AOC 2nd-Tue April Social. The Taco Mac is in the Prado Shopping Mall on Roswell Rd in Sandy Springs, just 1/2 mile South of the I-285 Roswell Rd exit.
After introducing one another we'll address everyone's questions and suggestions about the trip. If you live or work near someone else in our group you can discuss the possibility of "custom carpooling," but the Nature Center is so close to Atlanta that most of us prefer the freedom of driving down and back independently.
By email after the planning meeting we'll continue to firm up details of our group meals, campfires, schedule of optional group activities, etc.
FOR MORE ON DAUSET TRAILS NATURE CENTER visit their official website at www.DausetTrails.com. Phone number: 770-775-6798. Just 50 miles south of Atlanta, the nature center's friendly staff oversee its amazing features discussed above—plus its visitor center & museum, demonstration farm, and botanical gardens. Reserved and paid camping groups such as ours have exclusive use of the entire lakeside camping area and its nice included extras. For a color topo trail map which also shows the central lake vicinity where we camp (with its "Pavilion #2" and "Turkey Roosts") go to: http://www.dausettrails.com/Dauset_May26b.pdf
An added bonus of Dauset Trails is its proximity to historic Indian Springs State Park and its quaint adjoining village - also to High Falls State Park. These adjoining parks offer fabulous hiking trails, waterfalls, lakes, botanical gardens, country stores, antique shops, etc. In 2012 a lovely new lakeside hiking & mtn biking trail was opened that conveniently connects Dauset Trails with Indian Springs. While en route home from the Dauset Trails High Falls is an exciting place to hike and explore!
FOR SOME EXCELLENT AOC DAUSET TRAILS PHOTOS (plus an archive write-up) of our AOC September 2010 weekend, go to the following link. Click on "Photo Album." for Courtney & Tom Harjung's superbly done Picasa album:
September 30 - October 2, 2011 photo album:
Thanks to Angela Nelson for the above beautiful group "beach & boats" shot taken on our May 2009 Dauset Trails trip.
EASY DIRECTIONS from ATLANTA to AOC GROUP CAMPING AREA & PAVILION at DAUSET TRAILS NATURE CENTER: The camping area is only about 45 miles (~45 minutes) from the I-75/I-285 interchange on Atlanta's south side. 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.
IMPORTANT: Please pay close attention to these directions which give the precise mileage of each driving leg and explain our special AOC entrance procedures. 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.)
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 over I-75 onto High Falls Road 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 and go 3.0 miles to the SPECIAL ENTRANCE for DAUSET TRAILS CAMPERS, a gravel road on your left. There's normally just a tiny sign on a pine tree here, and the entrance is surrounded by a long bank of pines (on your left) along a rightward curve of the highway. The following Lat/Lon coordinates of this special entrance may be useful as your entered GPS or Google.com/maps "destination": 33.2321,-83.9489 (If you happen to overshoot it, in just another 0.1 mile you'll reach the main Dauset Trails visitors' gate/sign, in which case just turn around (at that paved entrance) and backtrack 0.1 mile to our proper gravel entrance!)
4. From Mt. Vernon Road turn Left up this special gravel entrance and bear leftward for about 100 yards where you’ll find a steel gate. (The gate is just beyond a “check-in bulletin board” and a gravel parking lot for mountain bikers & other “day-use” visitors.) CRUCIAL DETAIL: Enter through this gate as follows: On days & nights when groups such as ours have reserved the Camping Area you should find the gate only "Fake-locked" with an old padlock and chain hanging on a nail. Simply lift the end of the chain off the nail, open the gate, and proceed through 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. After rewrapping the chain and "fake lock" drive about 0.8 mile up the gravel road to our covered lakeside campers’ Dining Pavilion ("Group Pavilion #2") and campers’ Parking Area on your Right. (Just before you reach this group area you'll pass through a second steel gate that is normally left unlocked and open for reserved camping groups. We like to leave this second gate in the OPEN position all weekend. If you arrive early and find this second steel 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.