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The Masarie Gang: Adventure Blog

Gold Branch Trail Chattahoochee River Park Marietta GA 12-17-2017

Posted on December 17, 2017 with 1 comment


I walked on the Gold Branch Trail today, which is part of the Chattahoochee River Park System and this particular section is ten minutes from my house in Sandy Springs, GA.  I have walked this trail several times before.  I wanted to get a hike in before the rain moved in that is forecasted to last for several days.  This particular trail is a loop of about 3.2 to 3.8 (not sure of exact mileage) but there are multiple trails that allow you to do shorter loops if you don’t want to walk the whole thing. I completed the loop in just under two hours. 

The outer loop trail, which I took to the left at the first intersection, follows along the Chattahoochee River and Bull Sluice Lake above Morgan Falls Dam.  You walk along the river for most of the trail except in the beginning and end of the hike. In the wintertime you can really get a good look at the river from the trail during the walk. It is not as visible in the months of the year that there are leaves on the trees but you can still get pretty good views of it then too.  

The highlight of the hike was seeing a bald eagle perched on a log in the middle of the river near Morgan Falls Dam. When I first saw it I thought eagle because I saw the white head and large brown body.  As the trail meandered closer to it I started to wonder if it wasn’t really an eagle but, just some sort of pipe ,buoy, trash, or something of that nature because it didn’t appear to be moving and I wondered if my eyes were playing tricks on me.  I wanted to be sure of what I was seeing and when I got off the trail to try to get closer down to the water to get a better view the eagle heard the crunching of the leaves and flew off.  Turns out I wasn’t seeing things and it was definitely a bald eagle in its full glory.  I have seen bald eagles along this trail before but they have been flying high in the sky much further away then this one.  I did not bring my camera today because of the rain potential and since I have walked this trail before I didn’t think I would see anything that different. I don't usually hike with the zoom lens, even if I bring the camera, because it is heavy.

There is an old abandoned car in the woods uphill from Bull Sluice Lake and the dam.  It is just a rusty shell now with bullet holes in the side of it; many parts of the car have been taken or have rusted away.  I was looking at it and thinking about how people had likely salvaged any parts of value from it long ago and then I found a hand painted rock on the hood of the car.  I took the rock with me because I think the artist left it with the intention of someone finding it and because I have always gathered rocks, shells, and other things of interest I have gathered on hikes I have been on.  These items usually only have value to me and serve as a collection of memories of places I have been, trails I have hiked, and in some cases are gifts from friends who traveled somewhere and per my request they brought me back something from the natural world from their trip. 

car_two.jpg  BI7A4061.jpg  painted_rock.jpg

A tornado came thru the Sandy Springs area a few years back and it traveled up and across both sides of the river along this trail and the trail on the other side of Bull Sluice Lake.  I have photographs of the damage not long after it happened as well as from the years since then. You can still see where the tornado came thru but a lot of the debris has been cleared now and trees are growing back in the areas the tornado cleared. There is one tree that was really twisted up by the tornado or at least that's what i think happened. I missed seeing this tree on the hike today but here are some pictures of it from 2014.

 tornado_tree_one.jpg  tornado_tree_two.jpg  tornado_tree__four.jpg      tornado_tree_three.jpg

The other thing of interest from my trip was I passed a group of people who had at least four dogs off leash and the dogs were having a great time running around and they were wet from swimming in the water, they were walking the loop in the opposite direction I was.  As I was heading up the hill from the dam to return to the parking lot, a while after seeing the people, one of the dogs I had seen came bounding down the hill without its humans and it ran past me with glee down the trail towards the water.  Near the end of the tail I saw the dogs owner and I told him where I had seen the dog, he responded that the dog would find his way back,  sure enough as we headed back towards the parking lot the dog came running down the hill past me to be reunited.  This whole experience reminded me of my dog, Cleo, who I hiked many a mile of trails with in her nearly sixteen years.  She would run ahead of me in the woods and then run back to where I was and do that pretty much the whole time, she always got in more miles on the trail then me.   In all those years of walking with her I only had to backtrack and look for her on two occasions when she got lost. 

Overall it was a nice hike to get in before the rain and included multiple things I wasn’t expecting.

sharOn doochin

December 21, 2017

Thanks for the journey, I miss Cleo, she was a wonderful companion.