The Bartram Trail was created to extend from Northeast Georgia to Southwest North Carolina in the footsteps of the traveler William Bartram. His book, "The Travels of William Bartram", describes both his travels across the Southeast and the flora and fauna that he discovered in this area. In 1775, he visited a lush watery valley in Northeast Georgia now known as Warwoman Dell, from where he sent specimens of the flora and fauna to London. He was one of the first main explorers of the area. The section of the Bartram Trail described in this post is a section that is surprisingly short for as much as 3 attractions. This hike occurred on Saturday, July 12, 2014. The plan was to follow the Bartram Trail from Warwoman Dell by Becky Branch Falls and Martin Creek Falls to the Pinnacle Knob Trail.. From there, I would take the Pinnacle Knob Trail to the summit of Pinnacle Knob to be treated to what was in my opinion the best view I have seen yet in Georgia.
R/T Length of Trail: 8 Miles
Duration of Hike: 4 Hours, 50 Minutes
Difficulty Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Two waterfalls; panoramic view; all stream crossings bridged; gradual ascent in many areas
Cons: Steep in the end
Best Season(s) to Hike: Winter; Early Spring
Trail Blaze Color(s): Bartram Trail - Yellow; Pinnacle Knob Trail - Green
Beginning Point: Warwoman Dell Receation Area Parking Area
Directions: From Clayton, GA: Drive east on Warwoman Road for 2.8 miles until you see the Warwoman Dell Recreation Area entrance on your right. Turn right onto the gravel road and park in either of the parking areas (one in the beginning and one near the end).
Per my first visit to the Bartram Trail, I wasn't left with an exciting appearance considering the mistakes I did there. However, I knew that this time, it would be different. The section of the Bartram Trail near Warwoman Dell, while seldom traveled, has numerous rewarding features, and I am actually surprised that I saw only one couple of hikers this day.
There's a couple parking areas in Warwoman Dell; one near the beginning of the short gravel road and one at the picnic area. I parked in the latter, although the first one is right at the start of the trail. There is a trailside kiosk at the first parking lot with some information about the area. The Bartram Trail is marked by yellow blazes as it enters the woods on the north side of the road. There were a few switchbacks as it ascended to Warwoman Road.The trail crossed the road at 0.2 miles and started ascending more steeply towards Becky Branch and Becky Branch Falls. Along the way, I passed an old... pump station (?) on the left. That was my best bet as to what it was. At 0.5 miles, the trail leveled out and crossed Becky Branch at Becky Branch Falls. On this day, Becky Branch Falls was not very impressive with only fair amounts of water. After the falls, the trail started descending along the hillside towards Martin Creek. Around the 1-mile mark, the trail crossed an old forest road and continued downhill via switchbacks into a small stream valley. My map didn't have it. There was a small footbridge over it, and the trail continued descending. After leaving the small creek, the trail turned northward shortly and now started descending into the bigger Martin Creek valley. Yellow blazes were frequent, so losing the trail was unlikely in this area. The trail reached Martin Creek in an area of rapids, although the creek became quiet shortly. The Bartram Trail was flat following the creekside here. There were a couple tributary crossings too. The trail reached a camping area where you need to go straight, and then it crossed Martin Creek on a footbridge at 1.8 miles. The trail followed the east side of Martin Creek for 0.2 miles passing a couple of rock outcrops. After that, it crossed Martin Creek on another footbridge (hint, hint - no wet feet!) and reached an observation deck for Martin Creek Falls at 2 miles. I liked Martin Creek Falls more than Becky Branch Falls. There was considerably more water flowing over the falls.
At the observation deck, turn left onto an extension of the footbridge and then descend down the other bank of Martin Creek. Shortly, reach a camping area. I didn't waste time proving it, but I think that fi you walk a bit through the camping area, you can come out onto the Bartram Trail where you were earlier downstream. If it works, it saves time if you don't want to see Martin Creek Falls. After the camping area, the trail turned sharply right and started ascending. After the initial climb, the trail briefly followed Martin Creek and passed above the falls. It wasn't long, though, before it gradually turned away from the creek. The next 1.5 miles were gradual ascent towards Pinnacle Knob, with a few small creek crossings and a footbridge. There was some rosebay rhododendron still in bloom as well. At 3.5 miles from the start, the Bartram Trail reached an unnamed gap which was home to the junction with the Pinnacle Knob Trail. Turn left here onto the green-blazed Pinnacle Knob Trail. The trail briefly went down into a stream bed before ascending to another gap at the foot of Pinnacle Knob. From here, it's 0.4 miles of steep ascent with no switchbacks to the top of Pinnacle Knob. It's not very hard, because it's short, but it can certainly take your breath. You will first ascend one knob, and then 0.1 miles to the final summit of Pinnacle Knob. And..what a view! The trail comes out on the north side of Pinnacle Knob on a big rock face. From here, US 441 and Clayton are to the left (west) followed by the mountains along the NC/GA border. In front of you (to your north) is the path of the Bartram Trail over numerous mountains. And in the distance, you can see the peak of Rabun Bald. The panorama of short-range views AND long-range views made this overlook more special than others; perhaps the best view I've seen in Georgia yet.
I returned the same way from the overlook. Some descriptions did list a way to descend the west side of Pinnacle Knob to somewhere near Courthouse Gap and return that way, but I didn't want to try it but on this day. Most of the way back was easy, besides the mile-long climb from Martin Creek to Becky Branch. It wasn't very hard though. In summary, this hike is quite manageable for most people. There are lots of rewards, particularly the incredible overlook at the end. If you are in the area, I highly recommend doing this trail!! Below are some pictures and three videos. Hope this description helps!
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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