Elachee Nature Science Center in Chicopee Woods

The Elachee Nature Science Center in Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve is a treasure hidden from the eyes of too many who live near or visit Lake Lanier.

After perusing the grounds for an hour or two to speak with leaders and followers at Elachee Nature Science Center and coming home with five snazzy brochures, I’m still not sure of the exact relationship between Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve and the Elachee Nature Center.

Bridge to Elachee Nature Science Center in Chicopee Woods ~ Photo by Robert Sutherland

Yes, I tried to comprehend what was explained to me by a very competent, smart lady. Sadly, all I can remember is:

“It’s easy! Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve is the hypotenuse of the gravitational influx of Elachee!”

To quote Katharine Hepburn’s unforgettable line in The African Queen, “Never the less…” You need to pay $5 at the gateway to the forest, off-road bicycle trails, rustic lake (no fishing, sorry) and magnificent Science Center, but that doesn’t cover the cost to examine Elachee’s interior displays.

No, that’s not a shot. It’s just … it’s complicated. Especially to me, a freelance writer (a.k.a. “someone who is ‘artsy’ but can’t get a real job”).

You can easily avoid determining who runs what by paying a $100 annual membership fee to Elachee Nature Center and getting a “free” $50 parking pass for anywhere on the entire Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve for a year. That membership also provides access for two adults and four young grandchildren, discounts in the gift shop, visits to all the interior displays and so much more that you’ll feel guilty for only forking over a hundred bucks.

Although the Audubon website refers to it as, “The Chicopee Woods Mature Preserve,” people of all ages will enjoy learning, frolicking or sitting and pondering it all.

Photo by Robert Sutherland

This giant outdoor carnival of plants, trees, critters and forests is huge. Depending on which source you accept, the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve is either 1,200, 1,400 or 2,674 acres in size.

Snake Day is almost here!

Yup. Snake Day!

Elachee members pay only $5 each (plus the $5 entry/parking fee at the gate) to do more stuff with snakes than I will ever want to know from 10 AM until 3 PM on Saturday, September 14, 2019.

You can have my spot. I’d rather walk one of the trails through the forest.

Photo by Robert Sutherland

Once you pay to enter the property, there’s no charge to roam the seven trails on the map (available for free) of the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve.

Hikes range from a third-of-a-mile to an almost 3-mile loop.

Hiking Trail Rules

  • Trails are open daily from 7 AM until dusk.
  • No dogs are allowed on weekdays.
  • Dogs are allowed on weekends, but must be kept on a leash.
  • Bikes, horses (and probably llamas) are not allowed on trails.
  • No smoking.
  • No fishing, hunting or collecting “plants or animals.”
  • Hike at your own risk.
  • Please bring sufficient snacks, water and walking gear.
  • No restrooms on the trails.
  • Call 911, if there’s an emergency.

Visitors are welcome to browse around the gift shop and powder their noses at no charge at the Elachee Nature Science Center during regular business hours. You can also purchase water and snacks there.

With prior notice, you are welcome to bring small and large groups to enjoy the exhibits and field trip classes for kids from PreK through high school. A stunning assortment of programs are available, so forget about just going once. You’ll have to come back for another amazing day … then another.

Photo by Robert Sutherland

The Birding Hike takes place at Chicopee Lake at 2100 Calvary Church Road in Gainesville.

That’s on the far side of the main entrance of Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve (which is off Atlanta Highway a mile north of the Gainesville campus of the University of North Georgia and a mile south of a zillion places to buy spiffed-up used cars, worn tires and shiny rims [cash only, please]).

Birding Hike on Saturday, October 5, 2019

Since Chicopee Lake is one of the premier birding spots in northeast Georgia, we expect to see a wide variety of both resident birds and fall migrants.

This local birding hike is a seasonal public education program provided by Elachee Nature Science Center.

Elachee Birding Hike: 8-11 a.m., Saturday, October 5, 2019
FREE Program Participation 

Parking fee of $5 applies, unless you have an annual parking pass.

Arrive a few minutes before 8 a.m. with binoculars and dressed for the weather. The hike will not take place if it is raining.


There’s more to learn, more to explore and more to enjoy than you can imagine at the Elachee Nature Science Center in Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve.

Click Here for Elachee.org

About Author

Robert J. Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life in Gainesville, GA.
Robert has two adult daughters, seven practically perfect grandchildren and a zippy Kawasaki. Contact Robert at [email protected].

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