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About 135 miles southwest of Savannah, rural Douglas has successfully transformed its railroad line, a former economic generator, into a multi-use trail. Built atop the bed of the old Georgia & Florida Railroad, the 3-mile trail serves as a transportation corridor and recreational hub for the town's 11,000 residents.
From the West Coffee Middle School trailhead, the route meanders past tennis courts and a baseball field and crosses the landscaped campus of South Georgia College, the state's oldest junior college. Beyond is an eclectic mix of single-family homes, businesses, old farmhouses, mobile homes and warehouses. While road crossings are plentiful on this trail, they're clearly marked for safe use.
Midway along the trail on Ward Street West you'll pass the old train depot, now the Heritage Station Museum (open Tues.-Fri. & every first and third Sat.). Stop in to learn about the railroad that once ran through Douglas and contributed so much to the local economy.
Continuing along a path lined with sweet-smelling pines, you'll soon reach the northern trailhead at North Chester Avenue. A short section of trail extends north from the road, with plans in the works to bring the trail out towards the athletic park at the city's northern boundary, but for now trail users will have to turn back at the creek. Linger on the return trip to appreciate the pleasant landscaping or take a breather on one of the trailside benches.
In Douglas: Access the County Board of Education trailhead (1303 Peterson Avenue South) by taking GA 32/Ward Street East and turning left on Peterson. Parking is available.
The Heritage Station Museum (219 Ward Street West) is on the north side of GA 32/Ward Street West, two blocks west of Peterson Avenue. Parking is available.
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