This lush stream rises in the Appalachian foothills a few miles north of Homer in Banks County and flows northeastward into Franklin County before turning southeastward and joining the Hudson River. All of these waterways feed the Broad River and its three forks.
Nails Creek was an important location in the development of industry in the region. J. D. Cromer had a sawmill, gristmill, and gin mill here in the late 19th century and this likely supported other small businesses, as well.
Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata) are vulnerable to development yet essential to the retention of sand in the constantly-shifting dunal landscape of the Georgia Coast. South Dunes is a great place to observe their impact.
Known locally as “The Boils”, this natural Eden is an oxbow of House Creek, a tributary of the Ocmulgee River near the Wilcox-Ben Hill County line, which has been protected by the Fuller family for the better part of two centuries. There are several other well-known boils in this area, including Oscewicee [pronounced ossi-witchy] Springs and Lake Wilco. None of these are open or accessible to the public, though Oscewicee Springs once was. Elizabeth Sizemore recalls another site north of The Boils, Poor Robin Springs near Abbeville.
In South Georgia, the term “boils” is commonly used to describe natural springs found in creeks, rivers, oxbows, and swamps. Water rises rapidly from an underground fissure and appears to be bubbling or boiling. With an average temperature of 68-70°F year-round, unaffected by the air temperature, they are warm in winter and famously cold in summer.
Native Americans would have been the first humans to appreciate these mystical places, using them in much the same ways we use them today. They were likely sacred to the tribes who knew them, both for their beauty and their unique qualities when compared to other aspects of the nearby terrain.
One of their most appealing features is the clear water which gives them a blue appearance, looking more like a tropical sea than a Coastal Plains swamp. Since tea-colored or muddy waters are the norm in these parts, they really stand out. I have treasured memories of swimming in these places as a young man, especially on holidays when we’d float watermelons near the sides to keep them cool.
In the 1940s, biologist Brooke Meanley did fieldwork here, some of which eventually appeared in his book, Swamps, River Bottoms & Canebrakes. Local farmer and naturalist Milton Hopkins and renowned woodcarver C. M. Copeland were also regular visitors for many years, welcomed enthusiastically by “Uncle Guy” Fuller. Hopkins made detailed observations on local birdlife and C. M. Copeland ventured into the surrounding swamps and collected cypress knees to use in his carvings.
The site was documented by David Stanley for the American Folklife Center circa 1977, as well. Some of his notes and images can be found in the Library of Congress.
I’m grateful to Ken Fuller for allowing me to photograph this incredibly special place and to share it with you. My father and I really enjoyed our last visit here, as we do all our visits with Ken and family.
We saw some amazing trees.
This view from the House Creek “side” of The Boils, along with Ken’s lifelong memories of the place, was ample reward for our hike.
The Cascade Falls Trail is part of the Pine Mountain Trail, located within the F. D. Roosevelt State Park. Several waterfalls punctuate the trail, and while they may be small compared to better known waterfalls in North Georgia, they nonetheless provide great views. This post focuses on the trail as hiked from the WJSB-TV tower parking lot, just south of Warm Springs. The round trip to Cascade Falls and back is approximately 4.1 miles and will take about 3 hours with stops.
I’ll share the waterfalls first, since they are the main attraction, and then images from the trail.
Waterfalls of the Cascade Falls Trail, FDR State Park
Csonka Falls will be the first waterfall you reach on the trail.
Big Rock Falls will be the next point of interest. It’s a great spot to take a rest.
The third waterfall is Slippery Rock Falls, and it is my favorite spot on the trail.
It’s another good rest stop, but the rocks live up to their name and are indeed quite slippery.
About 2.1 miles from the trailhead, hikers are at last rewarded with the highlight of the trail, Cascade Falls. Like all the waterfalls along the trail, it’s marked with a wooden sign.
The pool below the falls is a nice place to cool your feet in the summertime, and to take a rest before returning to the trailhead.
Cascade Falls Trail, F. D. Roosevelt State Park
This easternmost section of the Pine Mountain Trail is popular with hikers for its waterfalls, but the landscape of this area is equally interesting. It’s the most mountainous section of Georgia south of Atlanta.
The first part of the hike crosses relatively flat land.
The topography changes as the trail winds it way toward the falls, following Wolfden Creek, also known as Wolfden Branch.
The creek runs mostly parallel to the trail, but it crosses it 13 times.
One of the interesting features of the trail are the large rocks that seem to litter the woods.
They make good seats if you need to take a break from the walk.
You’ll also likely notice many fallen trees. They’re remnants of a 2011 tornado.
Past Slippery Rock Falls, the trail begins it highest rise.
For casual hikers, it can be a bit of a challenge.
Bumblebee Ridge is the highest point before reaching Cascade Falls, and offers nice views (and a bench).
Plants of Cascade Falls Trail, F. D. Roosevelt State Park
Early Spring is a great time to hike the trail, and you’ll encounter a variety of early wildflowers, and a reptile or two. Be careful of Copperheads, though, as this is prime habitat for the poisonous snakes.
Native azaleas were just beginning to bloom and were fairly common along the trail. I was here too early to see the Mountain Laurels, which reach the southern end of their range near here.
Keep an eye out for one of my favorite native plants, the Bird-Foot Violet.
I found this Oxalis blooming in a crevice between two rocks. I believe it’s a Wood Sorrel, but am not positive as to which species.
This is the Back River marsh [at high tide] on the north side of the F. J. Torras Causeway heading to St. Simons Island from Brunswick. I tried to find a name for the hammock, but couldn’t locate one. At this location, the Back River flows into Terry Creek and some of the residential marshlands of Brunswick.
Driving north from the Village, Massengale is the first public beach you will encounter. In recent years its popularity seems to have waned in favor of East Beach (Coast Guard Beach) but it’s still a great spot. The dunes here are nearly gone but are still recognizable as you enter the beach (above).