Jackson Georgia's Dauset Trails - family fun for free

  • Published
  • By Angela Woolen
  • Robins Public Affairs
Looking for something to do off base, but not sure where to start? Well, we've come up with a recurring series of stories and videos that's just right for you. "One Tank Trips" features day trips that - depending on what you drive - most folks can take using a tank of gas or less. The trips will focus mostly on Middle Georgia, and they won't cost an arm and a leg. So grab your keys, fill up your tank and let's go explore!

It's hard to believe there's a place to visit that's free these days. It's even more difficult to believe where the place houses animals.

Just less than 200 miles round trip, Dauset Trails Nature Trail has plenty to offer.

Founded in 1977 by two men, Hampton Daughtry and David Settle, it was designed to give the children of Butts County a way to explore nature. 

The first three letters of each man's last name were combined to form the name Dauset.

"The main attraction is the animal trail," said Wren Lindsey, a naturalist at the center. 

The animals who are brought to the center have been injured, orphaned, or are considered pest animals, but all of the animals at Dauset Trails are native to Georgia, according to Lindsey.

The Bald Eagle there was hit by a car and broke his wing. The otter was considered a nuisance and was trapped before being brought to Dauset Trails.

Some of the park's inhabitants are the birds who perch on feeders and in trees near the visitors' center.

The trail is a half-mile path through a shaded area on a sometimes paved and sometimes a well-groomed dirt road. 

Visitors can see a cougar, buffalo, deer, a variety of hawks and owls as well as opossums and raccoons as they walk on the trail.

Alligators, turtles, lizards and venomous and non-venomous snakes can be seen at the Wonder Room. 

Farm animals such as donkeys, chickens, cows and goats can also be visited in the barnyard exhibit.

Visit as many times as you like, because each time you could see something new. 

The venue occasionally hosts demonstrations of blacksmithing as well as other historical farming techniques.

There are also 20-plus miles of biking and hiking trails.

For all of this, the park has free admission and parking.

What to know: Dauset Trails, 360 Mount Vernon Church Road, Jackson, Ga. 770-775-6798. www.dausettrails.com