• Laurel Contributor

Stroll Dixon Woods

by Brian O’Shea

A gentle stroll through little-known Dixon Woods offers subtle rewards for the hiker seeking escape from the stresses of 21st century life.

A mere seven minutes from downtown Highlands, Dixon Woods is a gentle, flat, series of public trails along Bowery Road managed and protected by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. In total, Dixon Woods includes over a mile of trails that will keep any avid outdoors person entertained.

The trail system is simple to navigate and encircles Dixon Pond. It’s easy in terms of hiking difficulty, but it does not lead to jaw-dropping vistas or raging whitewater cascading over a cliff. Rarely crowded, the trails lead through a forest bustling with life, depending on the time of day you visit.

HCLT Executive Director Gary Wein said the land was given to the HCLT by former resident Erme Dixon. After Erme retired, it became difficult for her to move around the property.

“After she retired, she couldn’t walk very well and started driving her golf cart through the property,” said Wein. “That’s where the trails came from.”

Erme donated the land back in the early 2000s and has since passed away, said Wein. The trail system is well-maintained, marked, and stays consistent at a steady grade so there’s little-to-no elevation change as visitors make their way throughout the area.

As I mentioned earlier, there are no majestic waterfalls or vistas that overlook the mountains, but Dixon Woods is an easily-navigable trail system for the nature nut out to explore anything they can find. There are aquatic and dry habitats with a wide variety of birds, insects, salamanders, snakes, frogs, and other creatures you can see along the trail if you take the time to look.

To reach Dixon Woods, head east out of Highlands and take a left on Bowery Road. Drive until you see the HCLT sign on your right. If you reach Split Rail Row on you’re right you’ve gone too far. This seems simple and straightforward, but visitors making their first trek to Dixon Woods really need to keep an eye out for the HCLT sign at the circular-gravel parking area, which was installed last year.

The Laurel Magazine

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