Henry County, Georgia’s prime location and state-of-the-art sports facilities have made it a popular destination for sports tournaments of all varieties, from baseball/softball and soccer to disc golf and more. But there’s more to Henry County’s sports and recreation offerings beyond traditional games and athletics.
The area is also home to a wide range of modern, non-traditional sports opportunities and recreational hobbies, including archery, bouldering, foot golf, roller hockey, tree climbing, and more.
Read on to learn more and start planning a trip to Henry County for a fun-filled sports and outdoor adventure you’ll be reminiscing on for years to come.
Outdoor Sports and Recreational Activities in Henry County, Georgia
Henry County is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, brimming with opportunities for popular outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, cycling/biking, kayaking, bouldering, archery, and tree climbing.
One of the area’s go-to spots offering a diverse range of outdoor fun is Panola Mountain State Park, located in Stockbridge, GA, just 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta.
Archery and tree climbing
Two particularly unique outdoor activities offered at Panola Mountain State Park that are loved by locals and visitors alike are archery and tree climbing.
Put your bow and arrow skills to the test at the park’s outdoor archery course, featuring traditional static targets and realistic 3D recreations of woodland animals, or join one of the indoor archery classes. Take the fun to the next level with a cosmic archery classes where you get to hone your skills using glow-in-the-dark bows and arrows.
If you loved climbing trees as a kid, then you’re sure to enjoy the tree climbing opportunities at Panola Mountain State Park! The park’s 60-feet-tall, 100-year-old oak trees offer an extra thrill and beautiful views of the lush woodland landscape below. You’ll be fastened into a harness and use the park’s rope and pulley safety system to climb the majestic oaks, so you don’t have to worry about falling out!
For more high-in-the-sky fun, you can take part in the special ZZZs in the Trees events, where you’ll get to spend the night in tree boats before climbing down in the morning.
Panola Mountain is a popular spot for hiking and biking, as well as kayaking, but the state park also offers bouldering opportunities for climbers visiting the area. Climbers can look forward to scaling the park’s medium-sized granite bouldering field, featuring a challenging combination of slabby climbs, overhung routes, and a little bit of crack climbing.
The bouldering area is accessible by permit only, which can be obtained from the Park Office/Nature Center, and climbers must bring their own equipment.
Hiking and biking
For hikers, the state park offers two short, heavily wooded hiking trails—the 0.75-mile Outcrop Trail overlooking the 100-acre granite outcrop that is Panola Mountain, and the 1.25-mile Watershed Trail that runs along the edge of a small creek.
Hikers and mountain bikers looking for a longer, more advanced trail will enjoy the 31-mile paved PATH Foundation Trail that connects Panola Mountain with Arabia Mountain, Stonecrest Mall, and other stops. This beautiful, tranquil trail offers stunning scenery of Panola’s conservation area, the Alexander Lake area, and a picturesque overlook of the mountain.
To access the mountain itself, you must reserve a ranger-led hike. In addition to getting to enjoy exclusive scenic views, these guided hikes also offer the opportunity to learn firsthand about the rare plants and animals found in this unique mountainous habitat.
Kayaking and paddleboarding
Whether you’re an avid kayaker or paddleboarder or simply looking to cool off from the summer heat, Panola Mountain State Park’s Alexander Lakes is a great place to enjoy some fun on the water.
You can bring your own watercraft or rent one on the weekends. Kayaks can be rented for $10 per hour or $25 for four hours; paddle boards can be rented for $10 for one hour or $20 for two hours. Life jackets are provided with rentals, and the lake is perfect for beginners.
Another fun option is to embark on a guided paddle during the spring and summer months with the South River Watershed Alliance and Panola Mountain State Park. You can bring your own canoe or kayak or use one provided by South River.
Golf-Like Sports: Disc Golf and Footgolf in Henry County, Georgia
Many locals and visitors enjoy teeing off at Henry County’s three publicly accessible golf courses—Cotton Fields Golf Club, Rum Creek Golf, and Crystal Lake Golf & Country Club. But did you know the area is also home to courses for disc golf and footgolf?
Whether you’re a seasoned disc or foot golf player or looking to branch out into newer, non-traditional sports that use rules similar to golf, Henry County has just the opportunity for you!
Disc golfers of all skill levels will enjoy playing the area’s two disc golf courses at J.P. Moseley Park and Alexander Park.
The disc golf course at J.P. Moseley Park in Stockbridge is a 27-hole, championship-caliber course that’s one of the highest rated in the Atlanta area and is recognized by the Professional Disc Golf Association. Even better? It’s free to play – just bring your own discs!
Alexander Park in McDonough opened the area’s newest disc golf course, The Tracks, in 2020, and it’s already garnered strong ratings and support from players near and far. This 18-hole course is in a moderately hilly, heavily wooded area that makes for a fun challenge.
Get in the footgolf game at Rum Creek Golf, home to a highly rated, 9-hole footgolf course. New to footgolf? Rum Creek offers helpful instructions for how to play the game (it’s easier than you might think!).
Fun On Wheels: BMX, Skateboarding, and Roller Hockey in Henry County, Georgia
Looking for a thrill on wheels? Henry County features parks and tracks specifically designed for BMX, skateboarding, and roller hockey enthusiasts.
BMX riders of all ages and skill levels can race and ride to their hearts’ content at Sandy Ridge BMX in McDonough, the site of a USA BMX-sanctioned track featuring a 50-foot starting hill, 800 feet of exhilarating whoops, jumps, rollers, and more, as well as three paved, high-banked turns.
Have a skater or skateboarder in your crew? They’re sure to love putting their skills to the test and trying new tricks at the all-new outdoor skateboarding area at Bobby McBrayer Park in Hampton. When it’s time for a break, they can enjoy cooling off at the park’s popular splash pad.
For the hockey fan and player in your group, Avalon Park’s 12,750-sq.-ft. in-line hockey rink is just the ticket. Use the rink to practice and hone your skills or enjoy a game among friends and/or family.
Planes, Trains, and Wildlife: Leisure Hobbies in Henry County, Georgia
Some have channeled their enthusiasm for their favorite hobbies—like birding, train-watching, and flying remote control airplanes—and made a sport of them. And Henry County has just the sites to enjoy these fun activities.
Bird-lovers can take in beautiful scenery and views of a wide variety of bird species at:
- Bud Kelley Park’s Pink Loop Trail, 1.1-mile moderately trafficked loop trail located in McDonough that’s popular for birding and wildlife viewing
- Cubihatcha Outdoor Education Center in Locust Grove, featuring multiple trails and forested wetlands excellent for observing a host of bird species
- Nash Farm Park, a 204-acre historic site that is part of the annual Georgia Bird Fest and home to a variety of meadow birds—including Yellow-breasted Chat, Loggerhead Shrike, Bobolink, Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Common Yellowthroat, Field and Song Sparrow—and an array of soaring birds
- Panola Mountain State Park, where birders can see countless bird species at The Power of Flight Bird-Watching Area, a grassland located on South River, or take part in a planned bird walk with the Atlanta Audubon Society
Visitors with a love for wildlife will delight in seeing the 1,000+ animals at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. The Ark sits on 250 beautiful acres that house a wide range of wildlife, including bears, lions, tigers, foxes, wolves, primates, reptiles, and more.
You can choose to do the free self-guided tour of the sanctuary, or, for a more immersive and memorable experience, take part in one of the sanctuary’s guided tours:
- The Big Cat Feeding Tour, where guests get to witness firsthand the feeding of the sanctuary’s lions and tigers
- The WOW Tour, an exclusive, behind-the-scenes experience where visitors can get up close and personal with Baloo the bear (of the famous “BLT” trio) and the sanctuary’s lions and tigers
For the locomotive lovers visiting the area, look no further than Locust Grove’s train-watching platform. Settle into the viewing platform and take in the sights and sounds of more than 40 trains passing through each day.
Remote control airplane flying
Some pilots prefer to enjoy the aerial action from the ground—and there’s no better place to do just that than Red Hawk Nature Preserve Park in McDonough.
The nearly-40-acre nature preserve features a landing strip specially designed for radio-controlled airplanes and helicopters. But that’s not the only aircrafts you’ll see!
Red Hawk is also a popular spot for pilots flying aircrafts of all varieties, from small electric aircraft, to giant WW2 gasoline-powered warbirds. You’ll also sight large competition aircraft flying in and out on a regular basis, along with helicopters and electric-powered jets.
Please note that while guests are welcome, flying at Red Hawk does require an Academy of Model Aeronautics membership.
Browse our blog for more information on popular Henry County attractions and activities and draw inspiration for your upcoming trip to Henry County, Georgia.