This 1,100 acres of wildlife filled wetlands just minutes from
downtown Augusta provides trails to hike or bike, waters to
kayak or canoe, picnic areas and even a nature campus for
students. It offers something for every age and interest. It is
a habitat for wildlife. You will find birds, mammals, reptiles
and fish. Even the insects offer interesting photo ops.
Some of the wildlife you may find there are blue heron,
red-shouldered hawk, egrets, sora, bald eagles, several
varieties of ducks and otters, alligators, beavers, muskrats,
turtles and many others. You may even spot an elusive bobcat.
Naturally there are many species of snakes and a few coyotes.
|Ducks swim at Phinizy Swamp
Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy uses the park as an
outdoor campus to educate young people about the value of nature
and wildlife. There is a 3,200 square foot K-12 education
building with classroom, laboratory, restrooms, and office
space; a 2,000 square foot research facility, with ongoing
studies of aquatic and ecology-based research projects; a 2,240
square foot administration facility that allows the Academy to
accommodate local and visiting students.
Aaliyah Ross, the park's Education Specialist, explained
"Wetlands can be really great tools for filtering and protecting
our water from pollution." She demonstrated the enviroscape
model she uses to help students learn the importance of wetlands
and how to protect them. "This model can be used to teach from
lower grade school through high school."
|Aaliyah Ross with her
Adults will also find lots to do and see
at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. Swamp Saturdays are held the first
Saturday of each month. They are free and take you on a 2.5-mile
hike through the park's trail system. There are also
moonlight nature hikes and special meteor viewings throughout
the year. There is an annual Earth Day Augusta Celebration with
lots of festivities and 5k and 10k Swamp Stomp marathons. For
families there are group bike rides and summer dusk walks on one
of their many trails.
Beaver Dam Trail is a .5 mile
dirt trail for hiking and mountain biking. The first half of
this forested trail overlooks an active beaver pond, a small
meadow, a lake, and a swamp. After crossing the Bridge Through
the Woods, it follows Butler Creek, taking you through a mixed
leafy pine forest. Wild turkeys and deer frequent the area, and
you might spot beaver or river otter. A bench gives you a
resting point at the spot where man-made Phinizy Ditch joins
Butler Creek. Just past a bench, the trail splits into a blue
trail and a green trail, both ending at the same place. The blue
trail tends to be drier than the green trail. This trail is
wheelchair and mountain bike accessible.
Butler Creek Trail is a .25-mile dirt hiking trail with a
stunning view over the floodplain of Butler Creek from a high
ridge, and it meanders through a deciduous upland forest as well
as a small pine forest.
|Ruth Mead studies speciments
from Phinizy Swamp waters
Cattail Trail is the shortest
trail. It's a .1-mile dirt hiking loop that is the entry point
to the Floodplain Boardwalk and Observation Deck. You travel
through a stand of native cane, cypress knees, and numerous
vines and wildflowers. This trail is wheelchair accessible.
Constructed Wetlands Trail
is a 1-mile hiking and mountain biking gravel trail. When you
leave the canopy of the forest and enter the openness of
man-made marshes used by the city of Augusta to provide a third
step in wastewater treatment you will see how handling a city's
waste water does not need to be detrimental to the environment.
These artificial wetlands were began in 1997, and they have
since become a favorite area for migrating waterfowl,
shorebirds, marsh and wading birds, and birds of prey.
Wheelchair accessible and mountain bike accessible
Pond Trail is a 0.8 miles dirt trail. It's a sunny
loop that takes you around the Equalization Pond that
holds treated wastewater before it enters the constructed
wetlands. The trail is on a raised berm around the pond,
allowing a higher view of the surrounding swamp and pine and
deciduous forest. An occasional grebe or cormorant may be seen
in the pond.
|Imature white ibises rest atop a
dead tree at Phinizy Swamp
River Scar Trail is a 1.1 mile
graveled trail that wanders past constructed wetland cells that
borders a stunning river scar featuring a cypress-tupelo swamp.
It brings you to a
deck overlooking the ancient scar where you can stop and
contemplate the beauty of this special place.
All trails are wheelchair accessible and
mountain bike accessible except Butler. Cattail is wheelchair
accessible but not good for bikes.
There are several wonderful observation
points and boardwalks located throughout Phinizy Swamp Nature
Beaver Pond Boardwalk and Observation Deck, a 50 foot
wooden boardwalk with a covered observation deck overlooking an
|One of the boardwalks at Phinizy
Swamp Nature Park
Bridge Through the Woods is a
steel and wooden bridge is 25 feet in length that spans Butler
Floodplain Boardwalk and Observation
Deck is a .1 mile wooden boardwalk with a covered
observation deck at the end.
Pfizer Pavilion is a covered picnic area with electricity
and nine, eight-foot tables with seating for 60 to 70 people.
Rain Garden Deck is a wooden
boardwalk overlooking the Phinizy Swamp Rain Garden.
School Bus Bridge is a 100 feet
concrete bridge that offers a wonderful view where you may spot
If you need answers to any questions or
just want to check it out, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park Visitor's
Center is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. There
are a few interesting exhibits inside about the wildlife in the
park and you can buy some neat Nature Park merchandise inside.
It's easy to see why it is not more well
known. If you had a hidden
gem like Phinizy Swamp Nature Park right in your back yard would
you tell the world?
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