Work often takes me to other areas around the country and when I travel I try to get out for a walk or hike. Several weeks ago I found myself in Macon, Georgia and I had the opportunity to take a quick hike at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Hillsboro, Georgia. My time was limited since my flight was later the same day so I choose the a quick 2 mile loop on the Creek Trail and the Pine Trail with a short side trip down to Allison Lake. The trailheads for both trails are located behind the visitor center a short distance off of Juliette Road.
The refuge has just over 5 miles of trails, not many given its 35,000 acre size. Maybe this has to do with it providing a refuge for wildlife? There are 50 miles of gravel refuge roads that can be walked or biked. Camping and fires are only permitted in designated areas.
The trails were easy to follow with a combination of painted blazes and brown signs through a mixture of hardwood and pine forests. The terrain is rolling but not challenging although it was enough to work up a sweat on the warm sunny day. The highlight of the hike was not the scenery but the abundance of wildlife I saw on such a short hike. This included three deer that startled me as much as I startled them, flock of turkey, many lizards, and a very active woodpecker.
Near the visitor center the Pine Trail passes near the Gunn Cemetery which has graves as far back as 1825. Most were unreadable but it adds an interesting historical element to the hike. Especially since some are war veterans from I presume the civil war. I explored the cemetery a bit trying to avoid the indentations in the ground at each grave site. No need to tread on someones resting site.
The lady at the visitor center was very helpful and the trails were exactly as she described. She assisted in selecting trails that allowed time to reach the Atlanta airport. One suggestion if you visit, bring bug spray. According to posted signs and the visitor center staff the refuge is heavily invested with ticks and chiggers (red bugs). She loaned me bug spray to cover my ankles and pants.
The Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge was nice to visit but I’m not sure I would travel to far out of my way just to stop. It is a great place to view wildlife and the weekday afternoon that I was there I saw no others on the trails. If it is quiet and isolation you are looking for with a short easy hike then the refuge will meet your needs.