The following is an account from our Travel Coordinator and her experience on Big Adventures' featured Fall Break trip to Historic Banning Mills.
Five south Georgia middle-aged adventure seekers just returned from a great weekend at Historic Banning Mills, which is located between Newnan and Carrollton, Georgia. It sits on a beautiful gorge with Snake Creek river flowing below. The Historic Banning Mills is an ideal place for those who are looking for adventure, or those who are looking to just soak up nature at a more relaxed pace.
We all decided to try their most famous adventure, the world’s longest zip line course. After stopping in downtown Newnan for a quick lunch at Rednexican Restaurant for our choice of great Mexican dishes or BBQ, we checked in for Level 1 & 2 of the zip line course. I had previously done these same 2 levels with my Big Adventure Travel co-workers, so I was able to assure my other baby boomer friends that, “YOU CAN DO IT!”
After a very thorough training, we headed to the start of the course by walking across a slightly intimidating obstacle, a suspension bridge over the parking lot! I think they intentionally built this at the beginning to make sure people don’t get into the middle of the course and panic. This way, if walking on the suspension bridge is too much for you, then you shouldn’t start the course anyway! Everybody made it across, some with more reservation than others. Then one by one, we launched off the 1st platform, zooming above the green, yellow, & red fall canopy of leaves to the other end. Everyone’s confidence increased by the end of the 9 runs in Section 1, we were thinking, “We've got this!”
After a short break back on the ground, we climbed up the steps of the platform for the start of Section 2. This section only has 3 zip line runs, but they are longer, faster, & just more of a thrill than section 1. Our favorite was one with 2 cables so that partners could race. I was ahead of my husband the whole way, but he claimed since he touched the ground 1st he was the winner. I couldn’t see him touch since I was so far ahead still crouched in the air towards the end of the cable! Plus, there is a section of 10 sky bridges in what I would describe as an obstacle course in the air. Everyone is attached to a cable above, so if you should fall, you wouldn’t fall to the ground. We navigated on wooden slats irregularly spaced on 2 big parallel cables as we held on to other cables on each side. Each layout was a little different within this course so it stayed challenging & fun.
It took about 2 ½ hours to complete Levels 1 & 2, so afterwards we checked into our rooms and just chilled for a couple hours. Some couples stayed in the Romantic Creekside Rooms that have front & back decks and overlook the river below. They have a very nice rustic feel on the inside with a beautiful king size poster bed, mini-fridge & a nice corner Jacuzzi for 2. Other couples stayed in the more basic lodge rooms just uphill, but still with a pretty view of the gorge below.
Friday night we drove to Newnan to eat at the Meet ‘n Greet Restaurant on the square. We were so glad we made reservations as the entire square was packed for their Oktoberfest. We loved the downtown vibe of the packed square that night so we walked to the other side of the courthouse for coffee & dessert before heading back to Banning Mills for a much needed night of sleep.
Saturday morning we all had a hearty country breakfast in the lodge, which is included with our lodging. The men, who are avid golfers, had reservations at Oak Mountain Championship Golf Course, only 10 minutes away. They said it was a good course, with lots of hazards. The rest of us went to the Birds of Prey Show with Master Falconer Dave Arrowhead. It was very entertaining and very informative too!
Then we headed out for the hiking trail that borders the river running through Banning Mills. We all had a blast on this hike, especially walking out onto the many large rock ledges & boulders in the river. One of us even accidently took an unintentional dip in-between the rocks! There are also several remains of the various mills that operated along the river in the old days that make great backdrops for pictures. Several of us decided to try to make our way across the river, so that we could walk back on the other side. It made for a great, but very tiring adventure since we saw no trail at first and had to walk uphill through the brush before we came to a horse path that led us back. After having a picnic lunch on the deck, we headed back across the river, but this time we went over on the 500 ft. high suspension bridge. It was a thrill, but we didn’t see the sign until afterwards that there were surveillance cameras and no bouncing or rocking side to side was allowed. OOPS! On the other side, we peeked into one of the vacant tree house cabins which had their own little suspension bridge entry. Perfect for a romantic getaway! Then we went to the lake where the kayaks were waiting for us to take them out.
After a full day of activity many of our group relaxed the rest of the afternoon, but 2 of us headed to the tennis court. It was covered with leaves, but they called maintenance, who came within 5 minutes to blow it off. There is also a swimming pool in season, putt-putt course, beach volleyball, & the Aerial Adventure Challenge Course close by.
We finished off our great Saturday with a gourmet dinner that we each had pre-reserved at the lodge. It was a nice, intimate setting with excellent service. I was even able to talk to the chef about my dietary restrictions the night before, and he was very willing to accommodate me.
Everyone in our group had a wonderful time at Banning Mills and I believe would like to return. I personally want to come back and do all 4 levels of the zip line as they progressively get longer and more exhilarating. One especially, called Flight of the Falcon, is up high and travels the length of the gorge. It’s exciting to just watch and listen from the river below as people that look like giant birds screech overhead!
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