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The Canoe Kids November Testing Group pauses for a photo at the top. Back row left to right: Gavin Burris, Colin Burris, Oscar McMullen. Front row left to right: Aidan McMullen, Jack Lowrie, Miranda Lowrie and Anna Catharine McMullen.

photos & article by: Melissa Lowrie
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On 40 acres in the rolling hills of Pickens County near the airport, Cherokee Valley Ranch is open for business . . . the business of fun. If you thought you couldn’t go tubing without snow or a river, think again. “I didn’t know turf could work like snow,” stated an appreciative 14-year-old Colin Burris. Turns out it does!

Open since last June, Cherokee Valley Ranch is a beautiful property that offers trail rides, hayrides, a zip line and “dry snow tubing or tobogganing.” The latter is achieved by a long slope of white Astroturf and a little moisture along the path. The tubes are spritzed with a little soap and water mixture and some tire shine for optimum speed.

Up we go. Colin Burris, Oscar McMullen and Gavin Burris carry their tubes up the hill for another ride.

On a brilliant fall day, we headed to Jasper after school with seven kids ranging in age from 5 to 14 years old. For $15 an hour, the kids had a blast tubing down the steep turf slopes. In addition to choosing from two chutes, one a bit steeper than the other, the kids could pick from two sizes of tubes or a plastic sled (aka toboggan).“That tiny tube was the best part; I loved it,” said Jack Lowrie.

All but one of the group opted for the tubes and steep slope. Aidan, our youngest Canoe Kid (just shy of 6 years old) chose the sled and the not-so-steep chute. He was very happy and enjoyed himself every bit as much as the big kids.

 t the top of the slope, one of the Cherokee Valley Ranch employees assists the riders. Four choices are presented: spin? straight? backward? launch? They were all self-explanatory, and I believe our group tried all the available options.

“Awesome” was heard a lot that afternoon, as was “fun” - even after the trek back up the hill for another turn. No magic carpet or tow rope to take the riders back to the top, just your own two feet. Oh, and, of course, you carry your tube back, too.

Hold on! Anna Catharine McMullen smiles during the all-weather tubing ride at Cherokee Valley Ranch.

An hour turned out to be plenty of time to wear out our crew. They had a fun afternoon and got a good bit of exercise and fresh air as well. The older kids were checking out the zip line, thinking that was the way to go for their next visit. The moms thought the trail rides looked like a fun ladies-day activity.

The Cherokee Valley Ranch is open six days a week (closed Mondays) and offers a la carte fun. Reservations are encouraged for the zip line and riders must be at least 70 pounds. There was candy for sale in the office, but I’d suggest packing a cooler of drinks to have available for thirsty riders.

 We were told there were group rates available - a great idea for a youth group or scout troop. For more information and directions visit Our group had a great afternoon at Cherokee Valley. Check it out!




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