Chattahoochee Bend that is…
Free weekends that haven’t been rainy have been pretty scarce lately. On the weekends it hasn’t been rainy we’ve either been busy with life or have been lazy and enjoying what little downtime we get. We’ve wanted to get out and do a little hiking but just haven’t found the opportunity to fit it in or have been too lazy to get out and go…yeah, it happens.
Ashley has applied to the University of Florida’s vet school for admission in the fall and was scheduled for an admissions candidate interview this weekend so she and ConnieLou were headed to Gainesville, leaving me and Jenna to get into whatever mischief we could find to get into. I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to do this weekend but Wednesday night, as we were getting ready to go to bed, Jenna said “Daddy, can we go hiking somewhere Saturday, that question was answered.
Now the big question was where to go. We wanted to be able to walk three to five miles and try some trails we haven’t hiked before, yet stay relatively close to home since we had plans for the evenig. Add to the list of criteria we wanted a place that we could look for a few geocaches while we were out. We knew of a few possibilities that fit our list of criteria but it didn’t take long for Chattahoochee Bend State Park to begin to emerge as our destination.
I spent a little time during lunch at work looking at trail maps on the Georgia DNR’s Chattahoochee Bend website, the Friends of the Bend website and Geocaching.com to figure out just which trails we wanted to walk. Ultimately we decided to make a ‘loop with a lollipop’ consisting of the Wild Turkey Trail from the Visitor’s Center to Trail Head 1, the Flat Rock Trail and the Brown Thrasher Trail.
Saturday morning started off cold and clear so we weren’t in a huge hurry to get going. We waited for the world to warm up a little but then loaded up our packs and walking sticks headed to the Bend.
A little side story here… Jenna and I usually each use a pair of store-bought ‘trekking poles’ when we go for a walk in the woods but this past Christmas my Uncle Robert surprised me, Ashley and Jenna with hand-made wooden hiking sticks and we’ve been itching to try them out.
Did we like ‘em? Oh yeah!
OK, back to the Bend…
We stopped at the Visitor’s Center, paid our parking fee, shouldered our packs and headed east on the Wild Turkey Trail.
The trails are well marked with different colored blazes. The Wild turkey Trail is marked with blue rectangles, the Flat Rock Trail with red rectangles and the Brown Thrasher Trail with blue diamonds…
Sounds sort of like a bowl or Trix cereal doesn’t it?
The Wild Turkey Trail starts off in a pine forest then drops down into a hardwood bottom. There were a few creeks to be crossed via small wooden bridges of stepping stones…
The trail then turned back uphill into a mix of hardwoods and pines
A large pair of oak trees parted ways with one of the trunks blocking the trail. I elected to go under and Jenna went over. We stopped for a swig of water and took a selfie.
I stopped to re-tie my bootlaces and noticed a pine cone on the ground nearby that was just a little bit bigger than the average pine cone around here.
The Wild Turkey Trail ended at the trailhead to the Flat Rock Trail which crossed the road and headed south to a large area of pavement outcrop from which the trail gets its name.
Many of the blazes in this area were painted on the rock outcrops themselves. One has to pay careful attention to the blazes out on the rocks as it’s very easy to lose the trail. One could get pretty distracted at some of the overlooks too…
Once back at the trailhead we stopped for quick snack and a swig or water before heading down the Brown Thrasher Trail and to look for a couple of nearby geocaches.
The Brown Thrasher Trail runs more or less parallel to the Wild Turkey Trail on the opposite side of a creek valley. We found one of the caches we intended to look for in this cluster of rocks but realized we’d passed the other two as the trail wound through the woods.
Not really having time to double back and find them we headed on back to the car and the end of the trail at the Visitor’s Center.
At the end my GPS app on my phone told me that we’d walked 4.96 miles in 2 hours and 37 minutes. Too bad I didn’t notice we were that close to 5 miles or we would have taken a stroll across the parking lot and back to get there. Most of the trail reviews I’ve read rate the three trails we walked as easy to moderate with a few short strenuous stretches and I would have to agree. It’ll be fun to walk these trails again during the spring and fall to see the woods with leaves on the trees and again with fall colors…and besides, we still have a couple of caches left to find.