Stone Mountain Covered Bridge

From Stone Mountai...

There are some 16 covered bridges still in existence in the State of Georgia. The majority of them are in the general vicinity of Atlanta (That is within about two and a half hours of us). I want to go visit them all (map), and will eventually, but the one I am most familiar with is what is known now as the Stone Mountain Covered Bridge.

This covered bridge was brought to this point in 1964, after being purchased by the Stone Mountain Park group for a nominal fee of $1. Today, spans a road to bring you to the Indian Island picnic area across a portion of the Stone Mountain Lake. It is also one of the attractions on the Stone Mountain Loop Trail. If you drive instead of walk, you may drive across it, but it is not in public usage like the Concord Covered Bridge.

It was built in 1892 in Clarke County near Athens to span the Oconee River. The builder was Washington W. King, who was the son of the freed slave and noted bridge builder Horace King (also here).
Washington is also responsible for the grand bridge at Watson Mill State Park near Comer and the Euharlee Creek Bridge near Cartersville. It is built with a very interesting lattice structure and spans 151 feet. It is now most commonly known as the Stone Mountain Bridge but has had other names. It was called the College Avenue Bridge because of its location on College Avenue and its proximity to the University of Georgia. It was called the Oconee River Bridge because it spanned the Oconee River. But most interestingly it was called Effie’s Bridge after a nearby bordello. I don’t quite understand why we don’t use that one today, it’s much more colorful.

It was decommissioned in 1964 because it was deemed unsafe for public transportation. But because of its ties to Georgia’s history and a need for salvation it was moved to its current location. I assume some necessary repairs were made to allow the minimal traffic it conveys today. I know that it was shortened from its original length by about 30 feet (to its current 151 feet) upon its arrival at Stone Mountain.

Stone Mountain is one of my favorite places in the Atlanta Area and it consistently takes top honors as the top attraction in the area. If you want to drive across the bridge you will have to pay for parking ($8 day use, $35 annual pass, I have always found this annual pass well worth the money.)

High Shoals Scenic Area

From High Shoals

If your looking for a nice little jaunt of a walk in the woods and you happen to be in the Helen, Georgia area, I’d like to suggest the High Shoals Trail (Scroll Down to Find) in the designated High Shoals Scenic Area, situated about 10 miles North of Helen up 17/75 (the Unicoi Turnpike). If you want something simple, yet pretty, the sort of place just about any age can enjoy, this is the place for you.

To get there you have to make a very sharp right turn (coming from Helen) on to Indian Grave Gap Road. The turn is marked with an appropriate sign. You then drive up this dirt road about a mile and a half until you see a small parking area on the left. You do actually cross a small stream while in your car, so traveling during the more rainy times may require more of an off road vehicle (we got there in a Nissan Sedan, for the record) There is no fee for parking, so the value is built right in.

The trail meanders downward over 1.2 miles actually losing an elevation of just over 300 feet. I’ve seen this path marked as moderately strenuous by some authorities, but I don’t believe it, unless you count the short steep sections by the falls or the fact that you climb 300 feet up as you are leaving. Along the way, you will walk through a dense and picturesque hardwood forest, across some small bridges, through hemlock, laurel, and other vegetation (I’m no expert on these). There is actually a series of five waterfalls; three are smaller and unnamed, but the two larger, Blue Hole Falls and High Shoals Falls, have observation decks.

We went in late fall of 2007 after the near record breaking drought so Blue Hole (the first and smaller) was more majestic [what Blue Hole Falls could look like]. The second falls is High Shoals Falls that cascades about 100 feet[what High Shoals Falls could look like], but as you can see from the pictures, it was pretty dried up at our time of visit. I’ve seen Blue Hole listed on the Swimming Holes of Georgia website, so I guess you could bring your swim gear, but there are also signs say to keep out of certain areas.

These photos demonstrate why we always think of waterfalls after rain. The way these falls could look is quite stunning. However, there is a bit of a catch-22 here. If it rains a lot to create fantastic cascades, you may not be able to reach it by car. When you can reach it by car, unfortunately the show will be diminished a bit. Don’t let me dissuade you though. In spite of the humble offerings, all members of my party had a very enjoyable time at High Shoals. My guess is you will too.

I put these photos up not so much to astonish and amaze, but rather to chronicle the effects of the Great Atlanta Drought of 2007. Maybe, it will bring home the need for better public water conservation policy and personal water conservation responsibility.

Trail Essentials
Approximate Time: 1-1.5 hours
Approximate Distance: 2.4 miles
Trail Surface: Compact Soil, Rocks
Features: Cascades, Riverside Walk, River Views, Waterfalls, Shoals
Overall Rating: B
Scenic Quality: B+
Athleticism: B-
Solitude: B
Value: B
Parking: Free
Hours of Operation: Open Year Round, Sunlight Hours
Facilities: None
Maps: At Trailhead, Blue Blazed Path
County: Towns

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