|Trail Length: 1.2 miles||Type of trail: Loop|
|County: Fulton County, GA||Our rating: E|
|Features: stream, historic, family, 60hikes||Your rating:|
|Usage: Medium||Added on: November 21, 2004|
|Last hiked: November 21, 2010||Updated on: November 28, 2015|
|About these ratings|
Hiking trails in Fulton County, GA
Starting in 1990 the Southeastern Land Preservation Trust began purchasing what today is one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land in urban Sandy Springs, Georgia. The forest is open from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, and developed trails allow hikers access to almost all of the forest. A ban on mountain bikes and motorized vehicles is strictly enforced.
Within the park are three major trails, augmented by a number of connecting and side trails. The main trails are:
Big Trees Loop: This trail is a small loop encircling the knob on which the entrances is located. The trail is paved at the beginning, but quickly turns to mulched dirt. As the trail begins its loop an overlook allows views deep into the watershed of Powers Branch, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River
Powers Branch Trail Most scenic of the major trails, Powers Branch Trail explores the stream at the center of the Big Trees Preserve. As the trail climbs into the watershed, it repeatedly crosses the river.
Backcountry Loop Longest of the three trail, the Backcountry Loop explores the watershed of Powers Brach, easily climbing to a ridge on the far side of the stream.
The hike begins at the trailhead at the south end of the North Fulton Annex just a few steps into the forest on a paved path. Interpretive brochures contain material on watersheds in general and sections of the trail. We began along the concrete blocks of the Big Trees Loop Trail. As it descends towards Powers Branch Old Roswell Road is clearly visible off to the right. The paved path bears to the left, but continue on the mulch-covered Big Trees Loop return trail as it continues straight ahead at 0.1 mile.
Almost immediately Big Trees Loop joins old Roswell Road. Shortly, at a well marked intersection, Big Trees Loop bears to the left and Powers Branch Trail continues on the old Roswell Road bed. On the right, short Beech Hollow Trail takes hikers down to a quiet area of the stream, near the concrete culvert that carries the stream under the present Roswell Road. Large boulders make the streamside view picturesque and a constant gurgle of a brief cascade all but eliminates the noise of the nearby road.
Return to Powers Branch Trail and turn right, proceeding to an overlook with a view of the creek and a forested wetlands area. The path makes a hard left turn at this overlook, continuing straight past a wooden bridge on your right. Now joining Powers Branch the trail begins an almost unnoticeable streamside climb. Laden with rocks and boulders, multiple picturesque views make good fodder for the camera-buff and repeated easy wet foot crossings are fun for the kids. Just before the last bridge immense boulders add to the scenery. These are not naturally occurring, but were added to help control erosion from a nearby artificial embankment. Notice the old roadbed rising on the left as you approach the boulders and the drill hole in the boulder near the small cascade.
As you cross the bridge the Powers Branch Trail ends and the Spring Hollow Trail make a brief ascent. At the end of the Spring Hollow Trail turn left on the Backcountry Trail. To ease the ascent the trail makes a double switchback as it climbs, but look down to your left to see how quickly you have climbed above Powers Branch. Shortly after second switchback the trail begins an easy descent and will continue downhill until a bridge on the left at 0.8 miles. Turn left, cross the bridge, then make an immediate right onto the Jackson Overlook Trail.
As you begin climbing the first switchback puts you on the bed of the old Bull Sluice Railroad. Built as a spur on the Roswell Railroad, the Bull Sluice Railroad would carry materials to Morgan Falls to construct a hydroelectric dam that still stands today. This stretch of roadbed is the longest remaining intact piece of the almost 10 miles of graded roadbed that ran from Roswell Station (Chamblee) to a railroad station just south of Roswell from 1888 to 1921.
Only a few steps of the path are actually on the railroad bed as it turns left and continues uphill to a platform overlook adjacent to World Ford. From this vantage point are some good winter views of the stream. Return down the path and turn left on the Backcountry Trail. A few steps later a second bridge carries you over Powers Branch. Turn left and return to the trailhead.
Website: The John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve, Sandy Springs, Georgia
Your guide to hiking and walking trails in the state of Georgia
The John Ripley Forbes Big Trees Forest Preserve, Sandy Springs, Georgia