Research & Outreach Facilities

oconee forest park logo

Visit the Oconee Forest Park Website at http://warnell.forestry.uga.edu/ofp

Facilities | History | Park Maps

Oconee Forest Park is a 60 acre natural area on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Georgia. The park is administered by the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

Oconee Forest Park provides recreation, teaching, and research opportunities for the University community while preserving its 100-year-old forest. Please contact Dan Williams at williams@warnell.uga.edu or 706.5420.1571 about using the park for class sessions.

Facilities

Hiking Trails

Oconee Forest Park has over 1.5 miles of hiking trails. The trails guide the hiker through the 100-year-old oak-hickory forest, along the Lake Herrick shore, and into open areas of landscaped lawn.

Bikers please help keep the mountain bike trail open by avoiding hiking trails closed to mountain bikes.

Mountain Bike Trail

Oconee Forest Park provides a 1.2 mile mountain bike trail. Begin the mountain bike trail at the southern entrance to the park (see map) and follow the signs. The trail traverses gravel roads and single track woods trails forming a clockwise loop.

Mountain bikers please respect the rights of other park visitors by avoiding park trails closed to mountain bikes.

Lake Allyn M. Herrick

15-acre lake Allyn M. Herrick named for a former School Of Forest Resources dean is open for fishing to University faculty, staff, and students (Georgia state fishing license required). Lake Herrick beach is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. Call Recreational Sports Department for hours and canoe rental information (542-5060).

Interpretive Kiosk

The park's 4-sided interpretive kiosk features a write-up on the park's history as well as information and articles about the park's plants, animals, and ecology. Nature trail brochures including the Tree Trail brochure are available here.

Off-Leash Area

The park's 15-acre off-leash area for dogs is located on the southern end of the property. It includes a 2-acre pond and a network of trails and landscaped lawns. Please help retain this last Athens off-leash facility by observing the leash rule in the on-leash part of Oconee Forest Park. Your cooperation is essential for the continued provision of this facility.

Handicap Access

Handicap access to Oconee Forest Park is provided by the A.D.A.- compliant boardwalk and bridge donated by the family of Leon A. and Eugenia C. Hargreaves. The boardwalk/bridge begins at the gravel parking lot near the tennis courts. For your safety, handicap visitors please bring a helper.

Hargreaves Memorial

The Eugenia Calhoun Hargreaves Memorial remembers the beloved wife of the late Dean Emeritus Leon A. Hargreaves. The memorial includes the handicap accessible bridge and boardwalk as well as adjacent landscaped lawns and trails. Visitors are welcome to this memorial provided by the Hargreaves family and the Warnell School of Forest Resources.

Contact Information

University faculty and staff are encouraged to use Oconee Forest Park as an outdoor laboratory for their classes. Please contact Dan Williams (706 542-1571 about using the park for class sessions.

Approved research conducted by faculty, staff, and students is encouraged and supported. Please contact Dan Williams (706 542-1571) for more information.

The Tree Trail

The Tree Trail is a series of labeled trees and shrubs located along the park's trails. Blue name tags are attached either to the tree (about 8 feet high) or to an adjacent metal pole. The tree numbers found on the brochure map mark the approximate location of each specimen and correspond to the numbered names inside the brochure. Click on the link below to print a brochure copy.

History

The School's Gift to the University Community

Managed by the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forest Resources, Oconee forest Park includes Lake Herrick, foot and bike trails, picnic tables, and open, grassy areas bordered by native plants and wildflowers. The towering 100-year-old trees are the remnants of a once extensive old-growth forest that stretched across the bypass toward the UGA Golf Course. Today, the park is the School's gift to the University community. Forestry faculty once used the forest for research. During the Depression, the land served as a "side camp" for the Civilian Conservation Corps whose members worked in the tree seedling nursery on land now covered by Lake Herrick.

Officially established in 1982, Oconee Forest Park was the vision of a few far-sighted professors who began in the late 60's to look for a way to set aside the remaining old forest for future generations. Dr. Bill Moss, professor of forest recreation, and the late Dean Emeritus Leon Hargreaves understood decades ago that as campus grew, so would the need for such a place.

When Moss left UGA in 1970, Dr. Walter Cook took up the cause. He wrote up the proposal, designed the trails and patiently saw the project through years of planning and revisions. Today more than 50,000 people a year, among them many "regulars" come here to relax, exercise, fish or picnic with friends and colleagues.

The park also provides a convenient living laboratory for faculty who teach botany, ecology, dendrology and horticulture. Dan Williams, park manager, who along with student interns maintains the park has labeled many individual specimens for this purpose.

As East Campus marches out College Station Road, Oconee Forest Park may well prove to be UGA's Central Park, an island of green amid the buildings buses and bustle of campus. "The park provides an important sanctuary for University students, staff and faculty as well as those in the Athens/Clarke community," Says School of Forest Resources Dean Arnett Mace Jr. "It's crucial that as the University grows, we retain this park for its aesthetic and recreational values and as a natural resources teaching laboratory."