Dauset Trails

Dauset Trails Gives the Local Community More Reasons to Spend Time Outdoors

As featured in the 2024 issue of OUR STORY

Dauset Trails Nature Center in Jackson is a living example of steady, healthy growth that continues to inspire community members through environmental education and outdoor recreation. With nearly 2,000 acres of scenic woods, fields, creeks and lakes, visitors can experience a live animal exhibit in the wild, picnic, hike, bike, horseback ride, enjoy native wildflower landscapes and more.

Established in 1977 by Hampton Daughtry and David Settle
(“Dau-set”), Dauset Trails is a private non-profit managed by the Daughtry Foundation. The United Bank Wealth Management team has the privilege of working with the Foundation to help ensure the nature center continues to grow, providing investment management services for its endowment portfolio.

The Our Story team spoke with Director Ike English to learn more about how Dauset Trails gives back to all who visit. A dedicated member of the team for more than 30 years, English attributes much of the organization’s growth to his fellow staff members.

“There is no way we could be where we are today without our wonderful staff,” said Ike. “They bring so much talent and commitment to the table. Each one of them is an artist in some form whether it be in photography, welding, woodworking or writing. They provide much of the inspiration needed to help our nature center flourish.”

The Dauset Trails animal exhibit has been a staple for environmental education for years. It features a host of rehabilitated, non-releasable animals native to the state of Georgia. The exhibit has hosted countless groups of students and adults alike during its 47-year history.

Within the past ten years, Dauset Trails has become a hot spot for the hiking and mountain biking community. The organization partnered with the City of Jackson and the City of Indian Springs to develop the Creeks Recreational Trail System. Designed specifically for mountain biking and hiking, it is a path from the City of Jackson, across Dauset Trails and into Indian Springs State Park. The trails were constructed by the City of Jackson and Dauset Trails on lands owned by both and funded by a $200,000 Recreational Trails Program Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Additional resources were provided by the City of Jackson and the Daughtry Foundation.

Dauset Trails Director Ike English

“We opened our trails in the 90s and we’ve been expanding steadily as we are able. Right now, we have 30 miles of mountain biking trails and people come from all over the southeast to ride. The Creeks are particularly special because they include support from several local municipalities,” Ike continued. “We host several quality, larger regional races every year as well as a couple of marathons. One of our most popular races is the Georgia Cycling Association’s Mountain Bike Race, which attracts several thousand high school mountain bikers.”

The Dauset Trails equestrian trails have also experienced growth within the last 10 years. Now more than 5.5 miles long, riders can bring their own horses and enjoy a scenic loop located at 300 Mt. Vernon Church Rd., just east of the main entrance gate.

Ike attributes some of Dauset Trails’ growth to an uptick in outdoor recreation during COVID.

“We stayed open during the pandemic and many found our trails to be a great way to get some fresh air and stay centered during a difficult time,” he said. “Our numbers increased a good bit then and have not decreased since. In 2023 alone, we had more than 182,000 visitors.”

When asked what he thinks people take away from their visits at Dauset Trails, Ike answered simply, “Being in the woods and experiencing nature is healing. It will get your mind right and reset you. Everyone leaves this place with a better outlook on life. We’re proud to have the opportunity to treat our community members to a beautiful outdoor experience in Georgia, and we’re also appreciative of all the support from our community partners including United Bank. We plan to inspire many through our nature preserve for years to come.”

Learn more about Dauset Trails and plan your visit soon.