On Dec. 21, which is the first day of winter, the Winter Solstice Hikes will depart at 7 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. Offered monthly under the light of a full moon, the final Moonlight Hike of 2012 will be Dec. 28, with participants meeting at 5:15 p.m. and leaving 15 minutes later.
“We got involved in this type of hike [as a result of] the Cartersville City [Council’s] ... visioning sessions that we have annually — that’s where council and department heads [meet] and at that time I think they had volunteers that were involved,” said Cartersville Parks and Recreation Director Greg Anderson. “We’d just gone through the economic downturn so the council wanted us to be able to increase our programmings without any cost. And that was one of the things the staff came up with was to do a Moonlight Hike and it has been very well-received.”
Leading the majority of the Moonlight Hikes, Anderson said he has seen the offering’s participation range from one to 85 since 2008.
“[Over the years], we’ve even extended it [to include] a July Fourth fireworks hike where we go up and we’ll watch the fireworks,” he said. “And that’s been the most [participation] that we’ve had. This was three years ago and what we estimated was around 250, 260 people.
“We also have coming up next Friday, [Dec. 21] ... our Winter Solstice Hikes [where] we do a morning hike and watch the sunrise and then we do an evening hike and watch the sunset. Once we did the Moonlight Hikes and it was well-received so we wanted [to offer these]. That’s something I’ve always kind of been interested in is the solstice. It’s interesting to see the difference between the winter and the summer and how the Earth’s rotation changes with the sun.”
Both the Winter Solstice and Moonlight hikes consist of a 1.57-mile trek starting from the west loop trailhead, which is located off Main Street near Interstate 75’s Exit 288. For the evening hikes, participants are encouraged to bring flashlights.
Acquired by the city of Cartersville in late 2002, the Pine Mountain Recreation Area consists of more than 220 acres that have been designated as greenspace. The trail system, which was created by Switchbacks Trail Design, was dedicated in October 2007. It features two paths: the 1.57-mile west loop and 2.34-mile east loop, which can be accessed near Komatsu’s entrance and Spur 20, respectively.
Along with being immersed in hardwoods, hikers are able to view Lake Allatoona, Kennesaw Mountain and the city of Cartersville from the summit, which is 1,562 feet above sea level. While the trails are open daily to hikers, cyclists only can ride the east loop on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
“The hiking and walking and basically what we call a fitness opportunity that exist here within Bartow County have certainly grown throughout the past few years,” said Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Particularly the city of Cartersville has taken a great lead in this in creating areas for pedestrian travel, if you will, and for just general fitness opportunities where people work and live.
“Of course, Pine Mountain with its access there at I-75, it’s a very popular hiking trail with people coming from all over the metro-Atlanta area and north Georgia to hike this particular trail. The Moonlight Hikes have been widely successful and most often weather cooperates. That’s not always the case but there have certainly been some spectacular hikes throughout this year and we look forward to those continuing.”
For more information about the upcoming hikes or Pine Mountain Recreation Area, call the Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department at 770-387-5626.