Pigeon-Crockford Mountain Wildlife Management Area: Hogjowl Trail, Allen Creek Gorge Rim, and West Brow Loop to Allen Creek Falls and Rocktown, LaFayette, Georgia
Everyone knows about Rock City. But what about Rocktown? No, Rocktown is not a miniature version of Rock City; Rocktown is an area of natural bizarre rock formations on top of Pigeon Mountain, popular with rock climbers and hikers. A network of lesser-traveled trails lies in the vicinity, providing access to Allen Creek Falls - a small but picturesque waterfall on Allen Creek - as well as winter views from Pigeon Mountain's west brow. Another such trail, Hogjowl Trail, provides a rarely-used route from McLemore Cove to the top of Pigeon Mountain. This hike occurred on Saturday, February 18th, 2017. My plan was to hike the Hogjowl Trail from west to east as the first leg of a balloon loop. Then, I would take the Bluff Trail south to Rape Gap, from where I would follow a series of forest roads to potential viewpoints of the Allen Creek Gorge (later discovering that it was not worthwhile). After this, I would return to the Atwood Trail and follow it to Allen Creek Falls, after which I would take the Hood Trail and then a short connector trail to Rocktown. I would follow the Rocktown Trail from Rocktown out to the Rocktown Trailhead. Following a brief roadwalk to Sawmill Lake, I would pick up the Hogjowl Trail and hike it west back to McLemore Cove.
Pigeon-Crockford Mountain Wildlife Management Area: Blue Hole Trail to Ellison's Cave and Estelle Mines Loop, LaFayette, Georgia
Ellison's Cave is one of the most famous caves in the US, and for good reason: the cave has the deepest unobstructed underground pitch - the Fantastic Pit - in continental US. While navigating through the over 12-mile long cave requires serious training, skills, and lots of caving equipment, the entrance to the cave can simply be viewed from a hiking trail. Ellison's Cave is just one of Pigeon Mountain's many unique highlights. Another such highlight is the Estelle Mines and Tunnels. Iron ore was mined on the northwestern side of the base of Pigeon Mountain and was transported by rail through six tunnels to the former mining town of Estelle. Operations at the site ceased in 1924, and today, all that remains are some ruins of the town of Estelle and the railroad tunnels. While some of the tunnels have caved in, others are intact and can even be walked through. On this hike, you'll visit both Ellison's Cave and the Estelle Mines, each of which would be a worthwhile destination even by itself. This hike occurred on Saturday, January 14th, 2017. My plan was to hike the Blue Hole Trail from Blue Hole past both the dug entrance and historic entrance of Ellison's Cave to the top of Pigeon Mountain. From there, I would hike the Estelle Mines Loop (a combination of Pocket Trail, Estelle Mines Trail, Bluebird Gap Shortcut, and Bluff Trail) clockwise, passing Pocket Falls and all of the Estelle Mines railroad tunnels.
Pigeon Mountain is a giant extension of the Cumberland Plateau in northwest Georgia, spread away from the rest of the plateau that generally lies along and northwest of a I-59 in Alabama and Georgia to I-75 in Tennessee corridor. There are some differences in Pigeon Mountain from the rest of the plateau. The elevation is slightly higher, the canyons are less rugged, and the terrain is less rocky. There are a few mountain vistas and water features, but did you know what the place is most famous for? It's Ellison's Cave, one of the biggest and deepest caves in North America. Ellison's Cave contains The Fantastic Pit, which at over 500 feet in depth, is the deepest cave pit in the US. On this hike, you'll have a chance to see a few best-in-winter vistas from the highest point on the mountain, simply known as High Point, and also take a short side trip and see the entrance to Ellison's Cave. This hike occurred on February 7th, 2015. My plan was to hike the High Point Loop counter-clockwise, starting from the Pocket Trailhead. There would be stops along the way at South Pocket Falls, High Point, and possibly Ellison's Cave, if there would be clear signage to it, as I forgot to look up precise directions to it.
Pigeon-Crockford Mountain Wlidlife Management Area: Hood Overlook and Allen Creek Falls, LaFayette, Georgia
The Pigeon-Crockford Mountain Wildlife Management Area lies on some of the southernmost extents of the Cumberland Plateau in Georgia. Even though the elevations are generally at or lower than 2000 feet across this area, it is still quite beautiful. The WMA has numerous hiking trails, and while many are not particularly interesting, they are not excessively hard, relaxing, with some rewards. In terms of wildlife, deer and turkeys are abundant, although there are a few bears as well. This hike occurred on Saturday, June 14th, 2014. My plan was to start my hike at the Hood Overlook, and follow the Atwood trail to the Hood Trail. From there, I would follow the Hood Trail to the southern end of the Atwood Trail, and follow the Atwood Trail back to the Hood Overlook. Along the way, I would stop at Allen Creek Falls.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 293.7 Miles