Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Field Trip: Oconee-Greene County, Part 3. Oconee National Forest & Fishing Creek

When we got back to GA-15, we turned south and drove to Cold Springs Rd, approximately 19 miles south of Watkinsville.

We turned west on Cold Springs Rd. This barn – I have a thing for barns – is the first landmark of interest…

and is part of this property which grazes cattle. In the distance, hay is stored at the edge of the woods in readiness for winter.

We took the first road on the right (FS 1245) into the Redlands Wildlife Management Area. We explored two roads through the woods, FS 1245 and FS 1245a. These are gravel roads that wind through the pine woods.

The south branch (FS 1245) wound down through the woods to a bend in the Oconee River. It’s marked on the Redlands WMA map as a canoe launch. There was little room to park – no formal parking area; just spots among the trees - and the area was being used by fishermen to launch boats. We could only see a small section of the river, but the map indicates that there could be some interesting side pools off the river just north of this point.

The north branch of the road (FS 1245a) ended in a turnaround where the road became impassable. It was a pity that the road ended here. It looks like it’s just a short distance down to the river. Tall Goldenrod plants were blooming at the edge of the turnaround; there must have been easily 50 Pearl Crescents feeding on them.

Interestingly, just before we reached the turnaround, a section of the road was flooded and we had to drive slowly. Just at the end of the flooded section, I spotted a 4-5 foot tall Strawberry Bush (Euonymus americanus) with many ripe fruit. This is the only 'wild' Strawberry Bush I've seen apart from those at Fort Yargo State Park. This bush was much larger than those at Fort Yargo SP.

We returned to Cold Springs Rd and completed the loop around the road through an area of farms and the Oconee National Forest until the road returned to the Greensboro Hwy.
We drove back north to Fishing Creek. Some years ago, we had recorded Bird-voiced (Hyla avivoca), Cope’s Gray (Hyla crysoscelis) and hybrid Bird-voiced/Cope’s Gray treefrogs where GA-15 crossed Fishing Creek. It is impossible to see the creek at this site because of the trees that shade the creek. To see the creek, we turned east onto Nichols Rd (about 15 miles south of Watkinsville) and then south and followed Callaway Rd to Fishing Creek.

Looking east along Fishing Creek..

And at the swampy area immediately to the north of the creek.

I could see several schools of fingerlings in the creek below the bridge.

We continued along Callaway Rd and turned west on Boswell Rd by woods and grassy fields to return to the Greensboro Hwy, and then back north to Watkinsville.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Map source:

Georgia Outdoors: Redlands WMA

Related posts:

- Field Trip: Oconee-Greene County. Part 1, Elders Mill Covered Bridge

- Field Trip: Oconee-Greene County, Part 2. Sand Pit – Ward Rd

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