Our RV travel trips are a mixture of chilling out at the campground, touring the local sites, enjoying the food from the area, but most of all, I thoroughly enjoying the hikes in nature. Joan and I often travel to Pine Mountain, GA and stay at F. D. Roosevelt State Park Campground. From the campground we can visit the quaint little towns of Pine Mountain and Warm Springs, GA., visit FDR’s Little Whitehouse, soak in the beauty of the amazing Calloway Gardens, and feed my passion for hiking on the Pine Mountain Trails.
Pine Mountain Trail
The Pine Mountain Trail Association makes a substantial investment in time maintaining the 43 miles of trails. This non-profit group of volunteers has made these trails easy to navigate, keeping the trails clear and well-marked. The main Pine Mountain Trail is 23 miles long with an additional seven trail loops that range in distance from 3.2 miles to 7.8 miles. The trails range in difficulty from easy to moderate. Many of the trails have a wide range of sites to see from gentle flowing creeks, small waterfalls, a wide range of trees and flora, and moderate elevations along the small boulders and natural stone walls. For the overnight hiker, a number of primitive campgrounds are provided to pack-in and pack-out with clear running creeks for water sources.
Hiking Wolfden Loop
Our son Joel joined me for our hike. Our half day journey consisted of the Wolfden Loop named for a rock formation and small cave next to the trail’s Cascade Falls. On this Spring day we saw an early presentation of wild flowers, but the big treat was almost 2 miles of trails covered by blooming mountain laurel. In the video below you’ll see the trails wrapped in the laurel’s pink blooms. The trees had the early leaves giving shade along the trails. A number of tree varieties lined the trails from oak, hickory, blooming dogwoods, to the rare long leaf pine. We were also treated to the wildlife along the trail seeing chipmunks, squirrels, and a wide variety of birds. We didn’t see any deer, but tracks could be seen along the creek banks.
A special treat near the end of the loop was the amazing site of Ferney, the ancient loblolly pine. The base was larger than mine and Joel’s reach as we hugged the tree and tried to touch hands. Didn’t happen. Our best guess is the tree is at least 300 feet tall. We don’t know the age of the tree, but looking at the size of this amazing specimen we guessed somewhere between 250 to 300 years old. Just think of all those who have pass by this tree over its lifetime. Really amazing.
Our trail app tracked our path at 7.8 miles with the highest elevation at 880 feet. We are aggressive hikers and with our short stops to see the sites, breaks for water and a breather, we completed the trail in three and half hours.
Leaving the trailhead, we drove further in the Park to Dowdell’s Knob; one the prettiest stops along the Pine Mountain ridge. This was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite spots in Pine Mountain. When he stayed at his Little Whitehouse, he would often go to Dowdell’s Knob to picnic. Today you can still see the stone grill built for his visits, enjoy your picnic on the hill, and gaze at the stunning vistas of the unobstructed valleys below the mountain. I say it often, but this was definitely “some kinda pretty”.
We tried two new resources for our hike and could not be more pleased with the ease of use and accuracy.
Hikingproject.com is an excellent site providing general description for trails, driving directions, trail ratings and most important, a downloadable GPX file of the trail. The GPX file contains longitude and latitude location data that may include waypoints, routes, tracks and is invaluable if you aren’t familiar with a trail, especially those that may be more challenging or have a number of other paths mixed along a desired trail to help keep you on track. With this GPX file, you will still need a GPS device or phone app to view.
We used GPX Viewer Pro on our Samsung Android phone. The viewer worked very well, using limited battery during our three and a half hour trek giving us the assurance that we stayed on trail not venturing off on one of the many spurs or side loops. At the time of this blog, the viewer costs a very reasonable $5.99 at the Google Play Store here. A $4.99 iOS version for your Apple phone is available at the Apple Store here.
When you travel to F. D. Roosevelt State Park, enjoy the camping and the many historical and botanical sites in the area, but don’t miss the opportunity to see what nature has instore for you along the many Pine Mountain Trails.
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