Sometimes, when you’re going hiking, you have to drive a long way first. Simply getting there may become an expedition all by itself.
But at other times you find hiking close by – say, just a couple of miles from the house.
That’s the kind of hiking I discovered when I rediscovered Providence Park.
Providence Park, a 42-acre site once owned by Fulton County, was closed by the county in 2004 and sat essentially abandoned for a dozen years. Located in what is now the city of Milton, the property was not initially acquired by Milton because of concerns over chemical dumping at the site. But remediation work eventually cleaned things up, and – following the all-clear from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division – the tract was purchased by the city of Milton in the summer of 2015.
Work then began to turn the site into a public park. This included fence repair, particularly around the old quarry located on the site, and removal of some old buildings and an aging dock. Other work included debris cleanup, removal of unsafe trees, trail renovation and even relocation of a honeybee nest that had become established in one of the old buildings. The community became involved, too, with Boy Scout troops and Eagle Scouts contributing further to improvements to the area.
What finally emerged, and what you’ll find there today, is a patch of public green space. It’s a refreshing island of woods among the unending development that seems to be everywhere these days.
Providence Park reopened to the public November 2016, and it has a lot to offer. If you haven’t checked it out then you should.
What will you find when you do? Most visitors go to enjoy the hiking. The park features two main loop-type hiking trails – the half-mile Red Trail, which carries you through the western portion of the park, and the somewhat longer 0.75-mile Blue Trail which traverses the eastern portion. Both trails are clearly marked and easy to follow, and (on the Blue Trail) nice new wooden footbridges keep you dry at several stream crossings.
Neither of these trails is particularly strenuous, though the Blue Trail is a bit more rugged than the Red Trail. Along both of these loops, trailside benches provide convenient places to stop and take a break.
Between the two loops is an old and abandoned quarry. The quarry is fenced and clearly marked with “No Trespassing” signs. Pay attention to them, and don’t try to cross the fence for a closer look at the quarry. The drops are dangerous. Believe this. Stay on the marked trails.
And did I mention the lake? Providence Park includes a bit of frontage on a medium-sized lake. Most of the lake’s shoreline is privately owned, but part of the shoreline is in the park. In fact, on the Red Trail, a lakeside bench provides a nice place to stop and enjoy a restful view across the water.
Providence Park is located at 13440 Providence Park Drive off Providence Road in Milton. The parking area is at the very end of Providence Park Drive on the right, and the trails begin from the back of the lot or from just across the access road.