"This is a great park! Why did they put it in a hole?" is a question BeltLine landscape architect Kevin Burke says people often ask about Historic Fourth Ward Park. The reality is that the park is a great example of "green infrastructure", preventing adjacent neighborhoods from flooding while also providing a place for nature, fitness, and events.Read More
Atlanta Kudzu Festival
This Saturday, I attended the Atlanta Kudzu Festival at South Bend Park in Atlanta.
Considering the invasive pest that kudzu is around here, it seems like an odd thing to have a festival celebrating. But the festival was actually a pretty neat idea, featuring demonstrations on how to remove kudzu, things you can make with kudzu (baskets, paper, food), and several guided hikes, including hikes for beginners and teens.
I was mostly attending to gain information on the hikes, so that will be the focus of this post.
I had been to this park two years earlier to check out the PATH trail, but I had not noticed any clear unpaved trails, so I was excited to learn where people hike in these woods.
Both of the hikes I attended were led by EcoAddendum, also known as Eco-A. Eco-A is an organization that puts on guided nature hikes and also some longer trips. I had gone to a couple of their hikes prior to the festival, and I have always been impressed by the level of knowledge provided and the clarity with which it is presented. I also really appreciate the attention they bring to intown parks, which aligns nicely with the focus of Proximity To Nature.
First Hike: "Native Trees and South River Walk"
This hike had two destinations. For each half of the hike, we branched off of the Southtown PATH trail.
In the first half of the hike, we began with a discussion of what a native understory looks like. We saw an understory with Solomon's seal, wild ginger, native peas, and young blackgum and pawpaw.
Next, we walked down towards the creek. On the steep bank of the creek, we saw a beech tree that must have been 150+ years old. The age of this beech and the types of trees around indicates that this is a remnant of old-growth forest. As our guide Kathryn pointed out, we had experienced two ecosystems in a walk of under two-tenths of a mile. On our way back to the PATH trail, she also pointed out a deer trail.
South River Walk
The second half of the first hike led us to a creek that just past here combines with the South River. Kathryn allowed as how these are the headwaters of the South River, which later passes by Panola Mountain and eventually join other waters to become the Ocmulgee, then the Altamaha, then drain into the Atlantic Ocean.
Second Hike: "Nature Hike to the Great Sycamore Tree"
The second hike began at a trailhead along Lakewood Avenue between the main park entrance and the park swimming pool entrance. The first portion of this trail was bordered on both sides with solid kudzu. The trail had been recently cleared of kudzu by Terry Sutton of Cascade Springs Forestry, who was also along for the hike. We also saw quite a bit of ragweed and goldenrod.
The primary destination of this hike was a huge sycamore tree.
Before we arrived at the tree, we made a stop at the confluence of the creek we viewed earlier and another creek.
At our destination, we were awed by the Sycamore. This incredible tree is probably over 150 years old. It's huge! The photos I took really don't do it justice. I highly recommend you go see it for yourself.
Thanks to Eco-A for leading these great hikes and to Sustainable Lakewood, EcoAddendum, and Councilwoman Carla Smith for putting on the festival!
from Decatur MARTA station
I biked from my place to Five Points station. From there, I took the train to Decatur station.
The 2.7 miles from Medlock Park to Shamrock Forest was the most consistently steep area I've biked in in Atlanta, which is really saying something. Long, steep uphills were followed by long, steep downhills, over and over again. It wasn't fun, but I eventually made it to Shamrock Forest. Hooray for having a wide range of gears!
Distance: 5.7 miles from Decatur station
Difficulty: Very strenuous
Traffic: Very little, other than moderate traffic on Medlock Rd.
This was my first time at Shamrock Forest. Years ago, I met someone who was also really into urban hiking, and he told me about this trail, but I didn't get around to it for a while, and then I completely forgot about it. I was planning to go to the Tiny House Festival, so I figured I'd check out a trail or two near downtown Decatur. When I looked at the map to plan out my day, I saw Shamrock Forest and remembered how highly it was recommended. It was a bit of a ride to get there, but it was totally worth it. That said, if I go back I might take an Uber or convince a friend with a car to go with me.
The ride back was much more relaxing, even though there were some heavy traffic sections until I got onto the PATH trail.
Distance: 5.6 miles to Decatur station (and later 9.8 miles back to West Midtown)
Difficulty: Very strenuous
Traffic: Moderate to heavy until reaching PATH trail
The Tiny House Festival
The whole reason I had chosen to hike in Decatur on this day was that some of my coworkers were going to the Tiny House Festival. I would love to one day live in a tiny house, so I was excited to check out the festival with them. We got to tour several tiny houses.
My Day's Stats
Hiked: 3 miles
Walked: 2 miles
Biked: 23 miles
Transit: 6 miles
I took four modes of transportation on today's journey to the Chattahoochee Nature Center. I rode my bike to the Midtown MARTA station, took MARTA to North Springs Station, and then took an Uber to the nature center. From there I hiked.
My full day cost $35.52:
- $5 for two MARTA rides
- $10.51 for Uber one direction
- $10.01 for the other Uber
- $10 for nature center admission
In the morning, when I hiked the boardwalk trail across the street from the main nature center area, there were only a couple of people in the river. By the time I left the center, the river was packed with rafters. I'm sure it was a great day to be out on the river. I wish I had done the boardwalk trail last, so I could grab some photos of folks floating down the Chattahoochee.
I hiked 3.8 miles, took 125 photos, and found 5 geocaches.