ConnieLou had plans for the day so Jenna and I made our own plans to go take a little walk in the woods somewhere instead of being couch potatoes. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the air was nice and cool. Maybe fall is finally starting to creep in.
We decided to head up the highway to the Cochran Mill Nature Center near Palmetto.
Cochran Mill Nature Center encompasses approximately 50 acres of mostly wooded, undeveloped land near the southwest corner of Fulton County, one of the few areas in in the county that remain largely rural.
Many folks find it hard to believe that land in the southwest corner of Fulton County is in the same county as Atlanta…but it is. The only current ‘improvements’ on the property are a 6,000-square foot log ‘lodge’ which houses the nature center offices, reptile exhibit, gift shop and meeting rooms. A wildlife pond, picnic shelter and facilities for rehabilitation of injured birds round out the facilities on the property. Approximately 4.5 miles of trails wind their way through the property.
The area has had a busy history. In 1826, Cheadle Cochran received the property on which the nature center is located and surrounding property as reward for service in the War of 1812 and built a gristmill on Little Bear Creek. In 1870 Cheadle’s elder son, Berry, erected a mill on nearby Bear Creek, later converting the dam for hydroelectric power for the town of Palmetto. Stone and masonry remnants of the mills and their dams can still be seen.
There was a fairly large group of hikers in the parking lot getting ready to step off as we pulled in. We decided to give them a 15 to 20 minute lead before we followed behind them so we took time to check out the reptile exhibit and see the bird compound. We talked with a couple of the Nature Center staff members while we were inside and found out that a segment of AMC’s The Walking Dead (Season 2, Episode 5, “Chupacabra”) was filmed on the property a couple of years back and pointed out the area on a trail map where Daryl Dixon fell down an embankment and into the creek.
Daryl was here…
The hiking trails meander through the hardwood forests alternating between the ridges and creek bottoms with short climbs and descents in between. Creek crossings are facilitated by bridges and there are numerous benches along the trail thanks to a local Boy Scout as his Eagle service project.
The trails are generally smooth with a few rocky and rooty patches, mainly along the creeks.
We leap-frogged the hiking group several times along the creek and finally stopped to say hello when we ran into them on the far side of the bridge across Bear Creek.
According to Carolyn Hartfield, the leader of the group, the group is from Atlanta and they get together at least once a month for a day hike somewhere, often up in the mountains in north Georgia. This was the first time she has brought the group to Cochran Mill Nature Center and they seemed to be enjoying their hike. Hopefully Carolyn will bring her group back down to the southside to hike the trails at Line Creek, Chattahoochee Bend State Park or even the Pine Mountain Trail.
By the time we made it back to the car we’d hiked 2 hours and 35 minutes and covered 4.4 miles.
Not too bad for a Saturday morning…