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One of only two incorporated cities in Elberton County, Georgia, Bowman got its start as a railroad town in the late 1800s. Bowman is a small and friendly community. Stretch your legs and chat with your neighbors at Bowman Park. Though small, the park has a shady gazebo and a big red fire hydrant, and music often spills out from the Art and Soul coffee shop and the town's two annual festivals.
Bowman is home to The Sandbar, a kayaking hotspot on the Broad River that welcomes dogs to join you for your aquatic adventure and provides some important pet safety guidelines for kayakers on their website. Sandbar staffers offer bus pickup, parking, and boat rental for a 3.5-hour tour.
Bowman’s location along Georgia Highway 17 means that Royston is an easy 10 minutes in one direction and Elberton just 15 minutes in the other. Both cities offer shopping, pet services, and veterinary practices: the closest is the animal hospital in Royston. Royston is also home to Victoria Bryant State Park, more than 500 acres of creekside meadows and dog-friendly trails — 8 miles of trails, in fact. If that’s still not enough, you could also stroll the nearby campus of Emmanuel College.
A mere 10 miles from Bowman, in an otherwise empty stretch of east Georgia countryside, is a spot you’ll never forget. For a truly one-of-a-kind backdrop for a picnic and maybe some fetch on the grassy lawn, make your way to the Georgia Guidestones. These giant pale granite slabs, quarried nearby, are carved with philosophy and instructions that have been translated into multiple languages. The Guidestones were meant to help humans thrive after the apocalypse, but nobody knows exactly why. The identity of the person who had the Guidestones created and placed there back in 1980 has never been publicly revealed.
On the other side of Elberton lies the Richard B. Russell State Park, an enormous 2,500-acre green space on the 26,000-acre Lake Russell. With camping, disc golf, and a public boat ramp, Rover may never want to leave. No boat? No problem. You can rent a pontoon boat for a lazy dog day afloat in the sunshine. Or, rent a canoe to sniff out some fishing spots along the shoreline. The park’s six miles of trail give you plenty of room to roam, on-leash please. The Blackwell Bridge Trail is a 1.6-mile moderate hike to an old steel bridge overlooking the lake and Vans Creek.
Just 15 miles from Bowman, the Hart Outdoor Recreation Area (locally known as Hart State Park) in Hartwell, GA has 1.5 miles of walking trails on Lake Hartwell, and on-leash dogs are welcome. For boaters and floaters, though, the public boat ramps and docks will be the perfect way to cool off on a hot Georgia summer day. To refuel after a day on the water, stop at Market 50 in downtown Hartwell. The bakery sweets and gourmet treats can be enjoyed at the dog-friendly patio seating. If you’d like to extend your stay, the park offers plenty of camping.
Lavonia, GA is 20 miles from Bowman and the gateway to Tugaloo State Park. At almost 400 acres, Tugaloo is a puppy playground on Lake Hartwell, with boating, swimming, and four miles of hiking trails for on-leash exploration. With so much room to get lost, though, remember the water and waste bags. If you want to make it an overnight adventure, try some “glamping” in one of the park’s comfy yurts. If you’re not in the mood for hot dogs over the campfire, try the dog-friendly patios at J. Peters’s Grill and Bar in town, or Catfish Johnny’s on the lake.
Athens, GA — home to the UGA campus and a rich history of indie music — is a bit under 30 miles from Bowman and an ideal doggy day out. Downtown Athens’s four off-leash parks (with several more in surrounding neighborhoods) are all inviting. Who could help having fun at a dog park named Wiggly Field? Posh pups should head for Sandy Creek Nature Center just north of town. The center has free off-leash group play spaces and affordable private fenced park rentals. Or, enjoy the wide, grassy lawns of the historic UGA campus and the dog park at the UGA Recreational Sports Complex. With a laid-back vibe, Athens’s has plenty of dog-friendly patio dining options: more than 60, in fact!
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