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-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.
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