Tag Archives: Georgia Natural History

Settingdown Creek, Forsyth County

Nice views of Settingdown Creek, an historic tributary of the Etowah River can be had from Poole’s Mill Park. The name of the creek is officially Settingdown, but variants over time include Settendown [most commonly], and Sitting Down. In his landmark book, Georgia Place Names, Kenneth Krakow wrote: [It] was called this because [Chief Setten Down] allowed some of the white settlers to “set down” and live peaceably near his village. The village called Settendown was located on this stream, four miles northwest of Cumming.

Little is known of the creek’s Cherokee namesake, Chief Setten Down. According to the book Cry of the Eagle: History and Legends of the Cherokee Indians and their Buried Treasure by Forest C. Wade: He had a home on the south side of Settendown Creek in the present Matt community about one mile from Matt on the Matt and Cumming Highway. The chief was named after the creek on which he lived. Chief Settendown had three sons. Two were named Nickel and Tassel Sucker, and the name of the third is yet to be discovered by the author…The chief and his group were one of the many small tribes that comprised the whole of the Hightower Indians.

Cascade Falls Trail, Meriwether County

Cascade Falls, F. D. Roosevelt State Park

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, F. D. Roosevelt State Park

Csonka Falls will be the first waterfall you reach on the trail.

Big Rock Falls, F. D. Roosevelt State Park

Big Rock Falls will be the next point of interest. It’s a great spot to take a rest.

Slippery Rock Falls, F. D. Roosevelt State Park

The third waterfall is Slippery Rock Falls, and it is my favorite spot on the trail.

Slippery Rock Falls, F. D. Roosevelt State Park

It’s another good rest stop, but the rocks live up to their name and are indeed quite slippery.

Cascade Falls, F. D. Roosevelt State Park

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.

Cascade Falls, F. D. Roosevelt State Park

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.

Rhododendron canescens, light variety

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.

Viola pedata

Keep an eye out for one of my favorite native plants, the Bird-Foot Violet.

Oxalis

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.

Iris verna

A real surprise was this Dwarf, or Spring, Iris.

Shaking Rock Park, Lexington

Shaking Rock Park is a fascinating natural area located within the city limits of Lexington is named for a 27-ton rock that could be shaken with one hand while remaining in place, before the elements shifted its balance [likely the 1886 Charleston earthquake]. It still maintains a precarious perch albeit aided today by some sort of mortar.
The random field of mostly egg-shaped granite boulders comes into view at the crest of a fairly low hill and defines the trail to come. It’s a fairly easy walk and other than the presence of large roots in places, has few obstacles.
Archaeological evidence suggests that before European habitation, the site was used by Cherokee and Creek peoples as a campground.

In 1968, Shaking Rock became a public park thanks to the efforts of the Lexington Women’s Club.

Judge Hamilton McWhorter was the last private owner, and three of his heirs, Mrs. Andrew Cobb Erwin, Mrs. Sallie McWhorter, and Thurmond McWhorter, made the public transfer possible.

Depending on where one stands, the namesake rock’s appearance can vary greatly. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with graffiti at the site.

Shaking Rock Park is an excellent natural resource and is free to explore.

Chattahoochee River at Acorn Bluff, Carroll County

Though this beautiful bluff on the Chattahoochee isn’t actually named on maps, it’s located within the site of Chief William McIntosh’s plantation known as Acorn Bluff [Lochau Talofau].

Back River & Hammock, Glynn County

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.

Purple-headed Sneezeweed, Berrien County

I’ve preliminarily identified this as Purple-headed Sneezeweed (Helenium flexuosum). Sneezeweed doesn’t get its name because of allergens but because certain species were used in early medicinal elixirs to induce sneezing. Medicinal use is strongly discouraged today because the live plants are known to be toxic to humans and cattle.

Crystal Lake, July 1940, Irwin County

These snapshots were made by Frances Trammell McCormick in July 1940. This early pavilion (above) was quite different from the two that followed. It was an open-air shelter and likely held a concession stand. [I have a download of another snapshot from the same era of a much more elaborate structure which was identified as being at Crystal Lake but I’m having trouble confirming it; it seems unlikely that there would have been two large pavilions at the site around the same time].

The edge of the pavilion is visible at the extreme left of this photograph, made from the lake. A small wooden structure, likely a diving platform, is also visible. I believe there are cars parked near the shoreline.

Shoreline from the lake

Boaters passing a wooden slide

Water skier

A couple walking on the beach, with the slide visible to the left

Patsiliga Creek, Taylor County

Patsiliga Creek was of early importance to Taylor and Talbot County, supporting at least two mills (Fickling and Fielders) and the communities that depended upon them. This is the view from the bridge at Fickling Mill.

Oconee River, Wheeler-Treutlen County Line

South Fork Little River, Greene County