I’ve read somewhere that summer is the best time to camp (and thus possibly by extension to hike). To that person, I ask “Have you ever hiked in the South?”
Maybe in Seattle where the summers are a balmy 70 degrees and the weather channel warns of a heat wave when the mercury rises to 85 (For my fellow southerners – I am not kidding. It may have something to do with the fact that AC is not a standard features on homes) but in when its 95+ degrees out the only activity I want to do outside is drink beer.
That said, as August gets ready to give way to September, Atlanta has been treated to unseasonably cool weather! An early Fall? Fingers crossed!
So in order to take advantage of the cool weather a hike was called for!
An hour and a half from Atlanta sits F. D. Roosevelt State Park, which at 9,049 acres is Georgia’s largest state park. Traversing this park is the Pine Mountain Trail System, which consists of a 23 mile trail, aptly named Pine Mountain Trail. In addition to this there are another 20 odd miles of trails creating a series of loops. We opted for a modified version of the Wolfden Loop, making it a bit longer by taking the White Candle Trail instead of the Beaver Pond Trail.
We have a new four-legged companion with us and this was her maiden voyage – was 8.5 miles perhaps a bit optimistic? Perhaps. But she did great! A brief power nap at mile 6 and she was ready to go!
We selected the trail over others in the area because it offered waterfalls.
The dogs enjoyed them too – but were more interested in the pools at their base than the falling water itself.
The area is home to a fantastic species of pine called the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), which I somehow managed to not take a picture of. When young they look like sticks with an explosion of needles coming out of them. Frankly I think they look pretty comical – every time I passed one I couldn’t help but chuckle.
And when they get older they look like pine trees with really long needles and giant pine cones. The great oracle at Wikipedia tells me that they are fire resistant and live for up to 500 years and used to cover large swaths of the Southeast. Unfortunately the plants are particularly tasty to feral pigs when they are in the ‘grass’ stage and after pigs were released in the America’s the plants numbers dwindled tremendously, being replaced with quicker growing loblolly and slash Pines.
FDR State park is named after FDR not only because he frequented the hot springs located nearby, but he also planted (somehow I doubt he did the planting himself…but anything is possible) longleaf pines near Odie Overlook.
As overlooks go this one isn’t particularly breathtaking – but for west central Georgia this is as good as it gets!
Ultimately the hike was fun and the trail was beautifully maintained. We’ll be returning soon to break in some new backpacking gear!