|Pine Mountain, Georgia|
|Rising above the surrounding flat lands of the Piedmont region, this southern-most thrust of the Appalachian Mountain chain brings a variety of mountain habitats to west central Georgia. You would not expect to find a true Georgia mountain experience this far south, so Pine Mountain and its trails are both a pleasant surprise and an alternative to the popular north Georgia Mountains many miles away.
Leaving the picnic area parking lot at the WJSP TV tower, pass through a small clearing and into the forest. The trail proper begins at the registration box, about 25 yards into the woods. The loop begins and ends here. It can be walked in either direction, but it is described here counter-clockwise, continuing ahead past the registration box and returning on the trail to the left.
The Wolfden Loop Trail follows the eastern end of the Pine Mountain Trail, a 23-mile path that runs the length of the Park. Blue blazes are painted approximately every quarter mile. Wooden signs mark points of interest and junctions or important changes in the trail. Mile markers are in descending order, because distances on the Pine Mountain Trail are measured from west to east.
The trail begins a slight descent into the moist bottomlands of the forest. An old beaver pond soon becomes visible through short stands of cane and saplings. Rising and falling gently with the forest ridges, the trail soon enters a small boulder field. In spring look for clusters of wildflowers, such as bird foot violet and bluets, among the rocks. Black and chestnut oaks along with hickory and short-leaf pines dominate the surrounding slopes. Sightings of wild turkey and white tail deer are frequent. Bobcats, the elusive gray fox and coyote are also common. Listen for the calls of the mourning dove and red-tailed hawk, and the hammering of the red-cockaded woodpecker.
The rocky trail slopes down into shaded valley coves. Soon, you come to the first of many crossings of the shallow Wolfden Branch. Most crossings can be made on well-placed stones. Use caution, as the stones can be both slippery and unstable! On a hot summer day, you may choose to splash on through. In the cooler months however, a slip on an icy or mossy rock could make for a very uncomfortable hike.
The trail winds and weaves among rhododendron thickets, Piedmont azalea, and huckleberry. Mountain laurel is here too. The forests along the creeks are made up of sweet gum, maple and long-leaf pines. Here, the trail can be particularly muddy, especially after rain. On cold winter days, you’re likely to see ice along the creek banks and on the rocks. The trail climbs in and out of the cool, damp bottomlands onto the drier, sunnier ridges. None of the climbs are excessively tiring, and switchbacks make up the longer ascents. The rewards are the impressive rocky ledges on the ridges and the cascades and waterfalls along the creeks.
Before long the trail climbs onto the higher ridges and stays there for nearly the remainder of its length. Only as you close the loop will you pass through the bottomlands again. Once on the ridges, the trail follows the gentle ups and downs of the Appalachian Mountain foothills, through a mature hardwood and pine forest. Look for ‘Ferney’, an ancient and huge pine near a bend in the creek.
There are three primitive campsites along the trail. Shortly after the last of these, Sassafras Hill, the trail crosses Hwy 190 then re-enters the woods. Here the Pine Mountain Trail bends off to the right. You continue straight ahead on Wolfden Loop Trail. The final segment of the loop is marked with white blazes.
The trail follows a narrow ledge on a steep and forested slope. This section offers some of the most dramatic views, particularly in winter. Looking out through the trees, you can see the abruptness of the mountain ridges as they rise from the surrounding flat lands. Soon, you cross Hwy 190 again, and clos
|Location: F.D.Roosevelt State Park, west Georgia, about 25 miles north of Columbus. Daily parking fee of $2.00 (waived on Wednesdays), or 25 annual ParkPass, valid for all Georgia State Parks.
Directions: From Columbus, take I-185 then US 27 north. About 5 miles south of the town of Pine Mountain, bear right onto Hwy 190, which runs through the Park. Continue east on the 190, past the Park office, to the junction with Hwy 85W. Turn left towards Warm Springs, the closest town to the trailhead.
Trailhead: Picnic area at the WJSP TV Tower on Hwy 85W, just after the junction with Hwy 190 (an alternate trailhead is on Hwy 190 at mile marker 18).
Length: 6.7 miles / 10.7 km
Trail Type: Loop
Elevation Change: 400 ft / 122 m
Duration: 4 hours
Trail Condition: Well maintained and marked with blazes every 0.25 mile.
Features: Forest, boulder fields, rock ledges, streams and waterfalls, wildlife, views (particularly in winter).
Climate: Year-round trail. Best seasons are fall, winter and spring. Summers are very hot and humid.
Accommodation: Cabins and camping inside the Park, plus primitive camping along the trail. Motels in Warm Springs and Pine Mountain.
Trail Notes: Maps available at the Park office on Hwy 190. Register at the trailhead – this allows Park managers and the Pine Mountain Trail Association to accurately gauge use of the trail. Weekdays are generally quiet and are the best time to visit; spring, fall and summer weekends can be busy.
Popularity: 18% [?]