Get a life of adventure. The Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Outdoor Recreation office plans events all year long to get families into the great outdoors. As summer approaches, there’s a whole list of activities on tap and no time to waste. Outdoor Recreation specialist Brittany Beadle said hot trips this summer include backpacking the Pine Mountain Trail, rafting the Ocoee River and zipping through Historic Banning Mills’ treetop adventure. The rafting trips are back by popular demand, with three slated through September, Beadle said. The trips are led by certified whitewater rafting guides and can be modified for all skill levels. So whether you want a calm ride or a water-soaked, gut-churning slide down the rapids, it’s entirely up to you.
As the department works to expand its crop of offerings, Beadle wants to know what trips and activities you’d like to see offered. Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking to rent? In addition to hosting adventures, Outdoor Recreation also operates the Equipment Resource Center. Here you can rent kayaks, canoes, recreational vehicles, boats, camping equipment and inflatables for a fraction of the price they command in stores. Military, Department of Defense and Non-Appropriated Fund employees and families are eligible to rent items. Check out the rental list at www.benningmwr.com/odr.php.
Sign up for upcoming trips, events:
WHEN: Friday 1-5 p.m.
WHERE: The Woodlands
WHAT: Join Outdoor Recreation for an afternoon of paintball action. Equipment will be available for rent or sale. It’s not too late to sign up, call 706-545-7978.
EXTREME ZIP LINE TOURS
WHEN: June 4, July 23 and Aug. 6
WHERE: Historic Banning Mills
WHAT: This $85 tour includes nearly five miles of sky bridges, tree platforms, ziplines and towers. BOSS Soldiers get a discounted price of $65 on the July 23 trip. Call 706-545-7978 to reserve your spot.
WHEN: June 11-12 and Sept. 24-25
WHAT: A fun, overnight backpacking trip open to backpackers of all skill levels. For June, backpackers will head to the Pine Mountain Trail. Participants must be ages 15 and up. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a guardian. Cost is $35 and includes gear, food and transportation. Call 706-545-9636.
FAMILY FISHING NIGHTS
WHEN: June 21, July 19,
Aug. 16, Sept. 20 and Oct. 18
WHERE: Russ Pond
WHAT: For ages 15 and younger. Bait and limited poles provided. Reserve a pole by calling a day in advance, 706-545-7978.
AND BOAT SAFETY COURSE
WHEN: June 25, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: Sand Hill Recreation Center
WHAT: This free course gives information on state regulations, new laws, navigation rules and safety. Each participant receives a safety handbook and a certificate. Call 706-545-7978.
KAYAK THE CHATTAHOOCHEE
WHEN: July 1 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: Meet at Outdoor Rec, Building 1707
WHAT: On this training holiday, take a fun float down the river. Kayaks, life jackets and paddles provided. Cost is $10. Call 706-545-7978.
RAFT THE OCOEE RIVER
WHEN: July16-17, Aug.12-13 and Sept. 9-10
WHERE: Ocoee River
WHAT: This popular Tennessee whitewater rafting spot boasts miles of rapids for all skill levels. The two-day trip costs $125 and includes gear, transportation and accommodations. Call 706-545-7978.
Deadline to sign up for trips is one week prior to the event unless specified.
Fun In The Sun
Running or Walking
Follow Me Fitness Trail: One-or two-mile gravel route through the woods. Located on Main Post near the golf course.
Russ Park Trail: .82-mile gravel trail circling Russ Pool and Pond. French, Blue & Green Fields Trail: Approximately a 1.10-mile run in a quiet area. Take your pooch with you! Stewart-Watson Track: One-mile track located near Smith Fitness Center.
Riverwalk: The Columbus Riverwalk covers 22 miles of paved trail that weaves along the Chattahoochee River. This trail starts on Fort Benning near the middle school and Teen Center and goes all the way to Lake Oliver. Rails-to-Trails: Currently, this paved route starts at the 14th Street Bridge and ends before reaching Copper Creek Park. It is scheduled to continue to Psalmond Road by the end of the summer. Flat Rock Park: Located in North Columbus, this park offers miles of trail running as well as paved tours.
Lakebottom: Two miles around a green park area in midtown Columbus. This park is popular with youth and families, as it has basketball and tennis courts, a playground and ball fields. If you’re not up for a bustling place, this is not the park for you.
Twilight, Victory, Headley, Weems and Kings ponds are stocked with fish as needed based on annual sampling efforts. Catch catfish, bass and bream.
Purchase your Georgia fishing license and Fort Benning fishing permit at Outdoor Recreation.
Make sure to review MCoE Regulation 200-3.
The Chattahoochee River is a great place to catch striped bass, catfish and hybrids. Access the river from Pet Cemetery (off 10th Division Road) or Uchee Creek Campground and Marine. Post permit not required.
Russ Pond is a fishing area just for kids! Bring your youngsters (15 and younger) to catch a catfish! ** You must have a Georgia fishing license as well as a Fort Benning fishing permit to fish on post (excluding those 15 and younger).
Fish for bass in one of the many lakes within an hour of post — Lake Eufaula, West Point Lake, Lake Oliver and Lake Martin.
Camping, backpacking & hiking
Kings Pond Recreation Area is a free primitive camping area located near Harmony Church. Grills, picnic tables, fishing, docks, a boat ramp and a pavilion are just a few of the amenities in the area.
Uchee Creek Campground and Marina is a great place for a getaway. Located on the Alabama side of Fort Benning, the campground offers tent and RV sites as well as cabins and chalets.
Looking for a getaway a little farther away? Visit Destin Army Recreation Area in Destin, Fla. There are numerous Georgia State Parks right outside your backdoor. www.gastateparks.com The Pine Mountain Trail offers 20-plus miles of trails and loops. This is a great beginner place.
Georgia’s “little Grand Canyon,” Providence Canyon has a back-country loop as well as family-friendly trails.
Great way to get exercise. It’s fun, but not too strenuous. High-tech scavenger hunt — use a GPS to find hidden items. Visit www.geocaching.com to find a list of caches on Fort Benning and in the surrounding Columbus and Phenix City areas. Don’t have a GPS of your own? Rent one at Outdoor Recreation for $5.
Fort Benning offers 140,275 of its 183,000 acres for hunting. Harvest deer, turkey, hogs, coyotes and other small game. Make sure to review MCoE Regulation 200-3. Purchase your Georgia hunting license and Fort Benning hunting permit at Outdoor Recreation. If you’re active duty assigned to Fort Benning, you can hunt both sides of the installation with a license from either state. There is a public hunting land at Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge. www.fws.gov/eufaula/Hunting/Hunting.html.
Kayaking or Canoeing
Rent a kayak or canoe from Outdoor Recreation for $10. This rental includes life jackets and paddles.
Explore the Chattahoochee River on a three-to four-hour float from Main Post to Uchee Creek.
Check out the scenery at Kings Pond. This pond is big enough to keep you busy for a few hours.
Take the kayak or canoe off post to one of the lakes or rivers in the surrounding cities — Flint River, Lake Oliver, West Point Lake and others.
The Ocoee River, Nantahala River and Chattanooga River are located within a four-hour drive of Fort Benning.
There are two paintball fields located on post — one near Soldiers’ Plaza and one in the Uchee Creek Campground, near the Boy Scout Area. There fields are free for play and are open during daylight hours. Play is first-come, first-served.
Russ Park offers a 9-hole, par-3 disc golf course. Close enough to play during lunch! Flat Rock Park, in North Columbus, has 18 holes. This free course can be quite challenging for beginners.