A Guide to Exploring the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge: What to See and Do

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Are you planning to visit the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge and wondering what to see and do? No worries, this guide has got you covered! Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about this wildlife sanctuary.

The Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is a 35,000-acre wildlife sanctuary located near Macon, Georgia. The refuge is home to an abundance of native plants and animals, as well as a variety of activities to enjoy. From hiking, biking, and horseback riding to fishing, hunting, and bird-watching, visitors of all ages will find plenty to do in this natural oasis. 

Whether you are a seasoned hiker, a birdwatcher, a wildlife photographer, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway in nature, the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge has something for every visitor. Keep reading to find out what this beautiful oasis has waiting for you!

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge: A Quick Overview

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful destination located in Jones and Jasper Counties in central Georgia. This 35,000-acre wildlife sanctuary is located in the Piedmont region of Georgia. 

Established in 1939, the refuge was once heavily logged and farmed, but it has since been restored to its natural state. Today, it is home to various habitats, including bottomland hardwood forests, upland mixed forests, and open fields. 

The refuge is also home to many native plants and animals, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, and more. It is an important breeding ground and stopover site for various bird species. 

Clear streams and beaver-made ponds provide perfect wetlands for migratory waterfowl. Here, you’ll also find picnic areas and a visitor center with exhibits and educational programs. 

It is open year-round, except during big game hunts. Other amenities include free parking, and the refuge is worth visiting for all ages. The refuge is family-friendly, pet-friendly, and offers free admission.

How Do You Get to the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge?

The best way to get to the refuge is by car. If you’re coming from Macon, you need to travel 25 miles north. From Forsyth, it is 18 miles east. 

If you’re coming from I-75, take Exit 186 in Forsyth and go east on Juliette Road for almost 18 miles. Once you’re in the sanctuary, follow signs to the Allison Lake and Visitor Center for another 5 miles.

If you are traveling from Gray or Monticello, you can take State Highway 11. When you reach Round Oak via Hwy 11, turn west onto Round Oak-Juliette Road and go for 3 miles to Allison Lake Road. The Visitor Center and the Refuge Office are situated on Allison Lake Road. 

If you are traveling by air, the nearest airport is the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is approximately 75 miles north of the refuge. You can rent a car or hire a taxi from the airport to reach the refuge.

When is the Best Time to Visit Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge?

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is open year-round, which means you can visit any time of the year. However, the best time to visit the refuge is during spring and fall when the weather is mild, the foliage is beautiful, and migratory birds are passing through the area. 

During these seasons, you can see abundant wildlife, including deer, waterfowl, and songbirds. Moreover, the refuge offers several activities throughout the year, such as hiking, fishing, hunting, and wildlife photography, so you’ll always find something to enjoy regardless of the time of the year you visit.

Best Things to Do in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge

Below are some of the best activities you can enjoy in Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge.

Hiking

If you’re looking for an adventurous way to spend a few hours at the refuge, hiking is the best activity. The refuge has over 20 miles of hiking trails, each with its own unique terrain, wildlife viewing opportunities, and scenic views. Some of the trails are paved and universally accessible, making it easy for everyone to enjoy the beauty of the refuge. These trails are open year-round and are open daily from dawn to dusk. 

The main hiking trails are the Dragonfly Trail and the Little Rock Hiking Trail, located near Pond 21 on Wildlife Drive. The Allison Lake trail is also a must-try for hikers, as it offers a stunning view of the lake and the surrounding wildlife. 

For those who want a more challenging hike, the 2.9-mile Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Trail is a must-try. The hiking trails are marked by white paint on the trees to guide the hikers. 

The refuge also has a 1-mile nature walk along the Wildlife Drive, which is perfect for those who want to take a stroll. Whether you are looking for an easy stroll or a challenging hike, you are sure to find the perfect trail to suit your preferences.

Fishing

If you are looking for an unforgettable fishing experience, the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is a place to be. You can enjoy fishing from March 15 to September 30 during daylight hours. 

The refuge’s freshwater bodies, including ponds and creeks, are home to various fish species, such as largemouth bass, bream, crappie, sunfish, and catfish. 

What’s more, the refuge has a fishing pond exclusively for children 15 years old and under, making it a great place for a family outing.

Hunting

If you’re looking for a prime hunting spot, look no further than Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. Spanning approximately 34,000 acres, Piedmont offers an unparalleled hunting experience. 

Georgia hunters usually visit the refuge to hunt deer and turkey, which are abundant in the area. Small game hunting opportunities such as squirrel, quail, rabbit, dove, and raccoon are available here. Some of the hunts are conducted via a lottery drawing.

Just make sure to obtain a refuge hunt permit before beginning your hunt. For your safety, areas closed to hunting are marked with orange paint and signs, while the refuge boundary is marked with yellow paint and signs. So, make sure to stay within the permitted areas and adhere to the regulations to ensure the safety of hunters and wildlife.

Travel Tip: If you’re planning to hunt or fish at the refuge, make sure to get a permit. You can easily get the Hunting and Fishing Regulations brochure and the permit online or in person at places like the Refuge Visitor Center, the parking area at Allison Lake, and the Little Rock Wildlife Drive.

Camping

Are you looking to spend more than just a few hours at the refuge and love camping? The Pippins Lake Campground is available during big game hunts and is a popular spot for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts alike. 

The campground opens at 8 am the day before each hunt and closes at 11 am the day after each hunt. If you have a valid refuge hunt permit and quota hunt permit, you can enter and stay in the Pippins Lake Campground. 

The campground offers a peaceful setting, with several campsites available for tents and RVs. The campsites are equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and grills, making it easy to prepare meals and enjoy the outdoors.

The campground also has a restroom facility. If you’re looking to make it a weekend getaway, you can also camp nearby at Ocmulgee Camping Area and Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge Camping Area. These areas offer camping options and recreational activities.

Wildlife Drive

If you want to learn about the refuge’s rich history, diverse habitats, and management programs, head to the Little Rock Wildlife Drive. The drive is a 6-mile self-guided auto tour route over narrow gravel roads. 

This scenic route will take you through a diverse range of habitats, from upland pine to hardwoods, creeks, native grass fields, a pond, and seasonally flooded areas.

Bird Watching

If you’re a nature lover and enjoy bird watching, then the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is a must-visit destination. The refuge is home to over 230 species of birds, including migratory birds that pass through the area during spring and fall. 

From the Brown-headed Nuthatch to the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Northern Shoveler, and Turkey Vulture, you’ll be mesmerized by the beauty and rarity of these unique birds.

You can spot Red-cockaded woodpeckers from mid-April to mid-June and migrating songbirds from March to early May or during the fall peak season from September to October. 

The best time to see waterfowl is from late November to January. The refuge staff is available to assist visitors in finding the best viewing areas and times.

Photography

The refuge is a great place to capture the wildlife in their natural habitat. Whether you use a smartphone or a zoom lens, you can capture cool pictures at national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries. 

The boardwalk trail through the wetland area is a perfect spot where you can snap some amazing shots of birds in their natural habitat. So, if you’re looking for a peaceful and picturesque spot to take photos of Georgia’s wildlife, be sure to visit the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge.

The Visitor Center

If you’re interested in learning more about the refuge, you can check out the visitor center, which is open daily from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. There are also guided tours of the refuge offered at the nature center, which you can book ahead of time. 

There are two types of tours offered at the refuge, including a guided walking tour, which takes you on a two-hour tour of the refuge, and a driving tour, which takes you on a one-hour tour of the refuge. 

The Nature Center admission is free, and tour admission varies depending on the type of tour you choose.

Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge Trails

The Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is a great destination for anyone who loves spending time in nature. The refuge offers several hiking trails that cater to different fitness levels and interests. 

The trails are perfect for walking or hiking. They allow visitors to enjoy breathtaking views of the natural landscape and a chance to spot some of the region’s native wildlife along the way.

Here are some popular trails at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge!

  • Allison Lake Trail (0.84 miles long)
  • Pine Trail (0.74 miles long)
  • Creek Trail (0.81 miles long
  • Dragonfly Trail (0.53 miles long)
  • Little Rock Hiking Trail (0.72 miles long)
  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker Trail (2.27 miles long)

No matter which trail you choose, be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and insect repellent, as the Georgia summers can be hot and humid. And don’t forget your camera – you never know what kind of wildlife you might encounter along the way!

Piedmont Wildlife Refuge: Things You Need to Know

Location: 718 Round Oak-Juliette Road Round Oak, GA 31038-282 
Contact: (478) 986-5441
Open Hours: Mon-Sun: 9 am – 6 pm
For more information, you can visit their website.

FAQs

Is there an entrance fee for the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge? 

No, there is no entrance fee for the refuge. 

Are pets allowed in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge? 

The refuge is pet-friendly. So, you can bring your furry friends, but they must always be kept on a leash. 

Are there any guided tours available at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge? 

Yes, the refuge offers guided tours and educational programs for visitors. 

Can I bring my own boat for fishing?

Yes, private boats are permitted for fishing, but make sure to adhere to refuge regulations.

The Bottom Line

The Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is an exceptional destination for nature lovers who seek to explore the great outdoors. From a variety of flora and fauna and hiking trails to waterways and educational programs, you’ll find everything in one place. 

Whether you’re a bird watcher, wildlife observer, or just looking for a peaceful getaway, the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is definitely worth a visit.