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Duluth Massage

Red Cockaded Woodpecker Trail
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 2.9 miles Type of trail: Loop
County: Jones County, GA Our rating: Moderate
Features: songbirds, lake, 60hikes Your rating:
Usage: Light Added on: February 04, 2005
Last hiked: November 02, 2010 Updated on: June 16, 2011
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Hiking trails in Jones County, GA

Directions to Red Cockaded Woodpecker Trail

Deep inside the Piedmont National Wildlife Forest is a loop trail that takes hikers into Red Cockaded Woodpecker habitat. The habitat has been specifically created by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in hopes that it can help this endangered species recover. The loop trail is more like a balloon, combining an in and out access trail with the loop itself.

Map of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker Trail
At the trailhead a stone and wood kiosk offers information on the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Red Cockaded Woodpecker and the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The land was once settled by Georgia subsistence farmers, who farmed it until the land "wore out." In the 1930's the federal government began purchasing wildlife habitat to ensure its protection, and they bought this abandoned land just east of the city of Juliette, Georgia. The marked trail begins behind the kiosk, heading toward a gravel road off to the left. At the road turn right and continue the descent to Allison Lake. For more information on the lake see the Allison Lake Trail.

Turn left at the bottom of the hill and begin crossing the earthen dam that forms Allison Lake. In the center of the dam an unusual concrete spillway allows water over the dam while 45 degree angle sides permit foot traffic. After a heavy rain this section of the dam may be impassible. Climb up the far side of the dam and follow the gravel road as it ascends to a sign with the Red Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) indicating a left hand turn at 0.4 miles. The trail leaves the road and begins its journey easily descending through a second-growth short leaf pine forest that dominates much of the hike.

Red Cockaded Woodpecker
Where's the Red?Although its name is the "Red cockaded woodpecker, the red is normally visible only during mating and when fighting. It appears on either side of the bird's head
After a brief climb, a park bench signals the loop trail's beginning and end. We chose the path to the right (counterclockwise), for no specific reason. Almost immediately the trail begins a descent to a tributary of Allison Creek, then swings around to the right and begins an easy-to-moderate climb on a partially shaded, compacted earth trail. Just under a mile into the hike the path curves slowly to the left and an old road joins from the right. The next 0.3 miles the trail levels, with relatively little elevation change.

A little less than halfway through the hike (1.2 miles) the Red Cockaded Woodpecker Trail begins to descend. Watch to the left to spot evidence of a "grouping," trees selected by the elusive RCW as living quarters. Follow the RCW trail as the grouping expands to cover both sides of the trail. They tend to nest in groups that occupy dozens of trees in an area. The trees are easily spotted - they have a telltale candlestick look to them and a ring of white paint at the base. About halfway up the tree an artificial insert creates a ready-made hole for the birds who normally seek mature pines with red-heart fungus.

As the trail continues to loop it falls to a forested wetland fed by Allison Creek. At the park bench turn right and retrace you steps to the car.

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Red Cockaded Woodpecker Trail
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