|Trail Length: 6.7 miles||Type of trail: Loop|
|County: Meriwether County, GA||Our rating: Moderate|
|Features: waterfalls, stream, scenic, family, camping, 60hikes||Your rating:|
|Usage: Medium||Added on: January 07, 2005|
|Last hiked: November 07, 2004||Updated on: February 05, 2009|
|About these ratings|
Hiking trails in Meriwether County, GA
The brilliant reds of maple, dark reds of the flowering dogwood, the yellow of the pignut hickory and various oak punctuated by the evergreen of broadleaf and shortleaf pine make the Pine Mountain Trail an exceptional hike from October into late November, when the leaves finally journey to the ground. In the spring, native azalea, rhododendron and mountain laurel plus many small groupings of wildflowers combine for a show of color rivaled only by that in nearby Callaway Gardens. When identifying the laurel/rhododendron be careful - we spotted some Carolina Rhododendron (Rhododendron minus) which can easily be confused with mountain laurel.
Built and maintained by the Pine Mountain Trail Association, Wolfden Loop is on land that was once part of a farm once owned by President Roosevelt. At more than 8,800 acres, FDR State Park is the largest in Georgia's State Park System. Following his death in 1945 the land was eventually acquired by the state, along with Roosevelt's home ("The Little White House") in Warm Springs. Pine Mountain is an escarpment that runs from the Georgia-Alabama border between LaGrange and Columbus past Warm Springs and Manchester to the Flint River, where it turns north and quickly combines with Oak Mountain, becoming a series of hills in the Georgia piedmont.
From the Roadside Park area on GA 85W, walk to the northwest end of the lot where a marked trail takes you past the WJSP-TV tower. A marker notes the involvement of J. Neal Wickham, the sports store owner who began the Pine Mountain Trail in 1975. Be sure to sign-in at the brown-roofed trailhead kiosk (actually, at a mailbox near the kiosk), then follow the footpath on the right-hand side of the kiosk. The trail begins with an extended, easy downhill hike broken by brief, occasional level and uphill portions. Wolfden's Branch forms on the left, first as a shallow valley, becoming deeper through the first portion of the hike. Just over 0.7 miles into the hike the footpath turns to moss-covered rock and on the left-hand side there is a sheer 20 foot drop.
After crossing this rock wall the trail swings around to the left and the first waterfall, Dry Falls, is behind you. This well-named waterfall is rarely more than a trickle, even a few days after a light rain. Shortly after Dry Falls the treadway dips to Wolfden's Branch, crossing the stream on well-placed rocks. The stream is a tributary of Cane Creek and is part of the Flint River Watershed. Don't let the clear mountain water fool you - the Pine Mountain Trail Association recommends filtering or boiling the water before drinking it.
On the right past Mile Marker 22 is Csonka Falls, which normally drop at the low end of a long rock, but when water flow is heavy they spread out to form a much wider falls. The trail now closely parallels Wolfden Branch, crossing it on rocks or wooden bridges. Just past Csonka Falls is a single rail wooden bridge crossing. The pool of Csonka Falls is created by an active beaver dam (do not disturb). At 1.4 miles Big Rock Falls features a large rock formation off to the side of the falls, which slide off a rock and drop three and a half feet into a clear pool. Just before well-named Slippery Rock Falls the trail became a morass of mud in the increasing damp environment near the creek. These picturesque falls feature a main drop of three feet, with a number of nearby smaller drops.
Ascending a set of hand-crafted stone steps the trail reaches a shear rock wall that gives the trail its name - The Wolf Den. At the base of the cliff is a small overhang, perfect for a wolf's den. The funny thing is that the wolf den is on Cascade Branch and not Wolfden Branch. From the den the trail falls to the confluence of Cascade Branch and Wolfden Branch and tree size increases. Shortly after crossing the combined stream, Old Sawmill campsite is down a marked trail on the left. As the trail levels off for a very easy descent to the low point watch for the 14-foot circumference tree named "Ferney," which hikers may also know as "Old Pine" or "Big Pine."
Shortly after the trail passes a dam on the right it begins to make a u-turn to the left, crosses the creek and begins the moderate climb to the top of Hogback Mountain. Leaving the moisture-filled cove of Wolfden's Branch, the footpath enters the second of three major eco-systems through which it will pass. Hogback Mountain has significantly lower moisture content, so the amount of undergrowth is reduced. After Mile Marker 20 the trail curves to the right and continues to climb at a moderate to strenuous pace before it levels off for 0.2 miles before it continues an easy-to-moderate ascent to Mile Marker 19, at the top of an unnamed knob. As the trail descends it bears to the right then swings around to the left, ending the easy descent at a wet-foot crossing. It then climbs Sassafras Hill (campground on right). Mile Marker 18 is just past Rocky Point parking area. Follow the trail on the left-hand side of the parking area, climbing a set of steps to a three-way intersection a few steps into the woods. The Pine Mountain Trail continues, bearing to the right, but the Beaver Dam Trail comes off to the left at the well-marked intersection.
Quickly the footpath enters the third eco-system, an extreme example of a south-facing ridge climate. This poor soil is rarely damp for more than a day or two after a rain, severely limiting plants to xeriscape varieties. Rocky conditions limit the size of the trees. Watch for a good long distance view to the right, but behind you on the trail. As the pathway leaves the ridge and crosses GA 190 it re-enters the ridge top eco-system, with its more abundant growth. A beaver pond on the left gives this white-blazed trail its name. It follows lakeshore to a mountain stream, which quickly looses definition. The trail then parallels the Pine Mountain Trail back to the trailhead kiosk.
Your guide to hiking and walking trails in the state of Georgia