March, for the most part, was cold and miserable, with occasional freak snow flurries in the mornings. Trees only haltingly started blooming toward the end of the month.
I had known for some time that Macon had a Cherry Blossom Festival, and I’d made tentative plans to go…but the forecast for my intended weekend, March 23 and 24, was horrendous, chilly and rainy. Given the weather of the previous few weeks, I estimated that the cherry trees wouldn’t even have been in bloom anyway.
The next weekend, though, felt just right for cherry blossoms. While I didn’t quite have time for a road trip to Macon, I figured I could find some trees closer to home. A bit of googling turned up the fact that there had been a cherry blossom festival in nearby Conyers, Georgia, the same weekend as Macon’s. According to the website, that city has plenty of cherry trees to enjoy. I was busy with chores on Saturday, so on Sunday, March 31, which happened to be Easter, I headed east on I-20 to the town I always pass going to and from Augusta.
I’d read that both downtown Conyers and the nearby Georgia International Horse Park had lots of cherry trees. I decided to hit downtown first, as I love exploring small towns. Conyers did not disappoint! Not only did I find the cherry blossoms I was after, but I saw a cute and vibrant downtown and plenty of other flowering trees and plants.
Downtown Conyers even has its own miniature botanical garden.
By the time I’d explored Main Street and the Lewis Vaughn Botanical Garden, I was pretty tired and thirsty, so I stopped at Creamberry’s Ice Cream–the only open store I saw downtown–and got a sundae and a bottled water.
After that it was back to exploring. I found a few interesting buildings as I approached the train tracks, and when I actually got to the tracks, I discovered the cherry blossom mother lode.
The overcast sky started to clear up just then, so I was able to get some reasonably good shots.
When I reached the end of the long line of cherry trees, I turned back in toward downtown Conyers, passing the Welcome Center and cutting through to the public parking lot where I’d left my car.
This probably would have been enough, but I still felt like exploring, so I charted the way to the Georgia International Horse Park with my phone. After all, if the cherry blossom festival was held there, there had to be more cherry blossoms, right?
At first I was disappointed, though. Road construction detoured me away from the main entrance, and I ended up driving onto the horse park through a side gate. There were barely any trees at all around the stables and tracks, let alone cherry trees. I drove around the perimeter and didn’t see anything worth stopping for beyond a creek I’d noticed upon arrival. Disheartened, I took the first exit I came across back to the road…and across the street I spotted a nature preserve. I hopped across the road into the parking lot, parked my car, and marched down the hiking trail without a second thought.
Big Haynes Creek Nature Center is nestled along the creek I’d seen from the horse park. The trail led me back through the woods to an absolutely gorgeous wetland area.
The trail winds along a large body of water, upon which I saw Canada geese, a heron, and a surging splash in the distance that may have been a beaver or muskrat (or an alligator). I spent considerable time sitting at the boardwalk area, basking in the beauty I’d found.Beyond the boardwalk, the trail curves into the forest alongside the creek, past a water purification plant and eventually back to the parking area. Along the way, educational signs and activities share information about local plants and wildlife and the water purification process. I even saw more flowers. It’s a really nice little nature center.
At this point, I was fully satisfied with my Conyers adventure. I got back on the road expecting that to be it. But I ended up leaving the Georgia International Horse Park property a different way than I’d come in, and that meant I finally found the main entrance–and its stands and stands of cherry trees.
The cherry blossom-lined road out of the horse park was the perfect endcap to an amazing adventure in Conyers.