Courtesy Athens CVB
Published May 01, 2014
Hawkinsville Pulaski Blueway
While Hawkinsville, county seat of Pulaski County, is well known for its Standardbred horse harness training facility, the city has recently completed a 24-acre waterfront restoration project in concert with the National Park Service.
The blueway provides a vital habitat for natural wildlife, from black bears to chestnut and hickory trees to yellow-billed cuckoos, in the protected Oaky Woods area. By creating the new riverfront park, the Hawkinsville Better Hometown group and the Georgia Conservancy have created a way for visitors to engage with a natural area that has been an integral gathering, hunting and transportation route for residents of the area for millennia.
Reinvigorating a key portion of the Ocmulgee River Blueway, which bypasses the Ocmulgee National Monument, the new park has added two boat landing areas and a tent camping area with two covered pavilions for dining and other group activities, along with restrooms with hot-water showers.
In addition to camping and hiking, groups can experience the waterfront directly by canoe or kayak through the Georgia Canoe Association and Paddle Georgia. Environmental education programs, operated on-site, can be tailored for groups, which can also reserve the new amphitheater for private programs.
Ocmulgee National Monument
As the area’s most popular destination, drawing in more than 120,000 visitors per year, Ocmulgee National Monument offers visitors the chance to connect with the cultures of America in prehistoric times.
Groups visiting Ocmulgee typically begin in the visitors center, where a video explores the history of the Mississippian culture and of other native peoples who have occupied the site over the millennia. A small museum displays the findings from the archaeological exploration of the site, to which groups can then walk directly.
The earth lodge, a sacred space used for burials and other community and religious ceremonies, is open to the public and is the highlight of Ocmulgee tours. Though underground, the space is lit internally so visitors can take in the original floor.
Valerie Bradley, communications manager for the Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitors Bureau, advises that groups spend at least two or three hours at Ocmulgee. After visiting the earth lodge, she recommends taking the driving route through the more than 700-acre site to experience the natural spaces protected within the historic site.
Vans, rather than standard motorcoaches, must be used to navigate the grounds because of a bridge with an eight-foot clearance, but the main parking lot at the visitors center has motorcoach parking.