Monday, January 16, 2012

Over The Hills And Through The Woods: Noontootla Creek And Springer Mountain

December 19th, 2011. After some cool weather, the days were pleasantly warm and we took a trip through north Georgia, just to see what we could see. We began in Helen in Hall County and drove north on the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway with a side trip up Brasstown Bald. From Brasstown Bald, we drove north to Hiawassee and then west through Blairsville to Blue Ridge.

From Blue Ridge, we drove south on Aska Road, then north on CR-8 (Newton Road), east on Dial Road, and then south on CR-218 (Double Gap Road) to its junction with Forest Service road, FS-58. We drove southeast along forest service road, FS-58, as it followed Noontootla Creek to its headwaters. At the end of FS-58, we turned west on FS-42 to the Springer Mountain parking area for the sourthern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. From here, we drove northwest along FS-42 back to CR-218.

A typical view from the road towards Noontootla Creek. The creek flows through a deep gorge in pine forest with a rhododendron understory. For most of the drive it was difficult to see the creek.

We saw embankments with wild ginger plants

A brief view of the creek through the trees

A closer view

There were occasional open areas under trees along the creek bank. The creek is subject to a restoration effort. Many open areas had no parking access; picnicking, but no camping, was permitted at a couple of areas; and camping was permitted at only two areas above the creek.

One of the few open views

A closer view of the water flowing over the rocky creek bed.

One of the open areas where picnicking was permitted.

A wild ginger (Hexastylis sp.) plant among the trees

At the end of forest service road, FS-58, we turned west onto FS-42. As we looked down from the road, we saw several springs below us. These would coalesce to form Noontootla Creek.

At the Springer Mountain parking area for the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

The information kiosk for the Appalachian and Benton MacKaye Trails

The Appalachian Trail actually begins on Springer Mountain, 0.9 miles south of the parking area. The Benton MacKaye trail - that follows a 300-mile route through Georgia, Tennessee to Davenport Gap in North Carolina - also begins here.

The Appalachian Trail leaves the Springer Mountain parking area here.

A notice, just a little along the trail from the parking area warns that Black bears are active in the area and gives guidance for storing foods beyond their reach.

From here we continued along forest service road, FS-42, to CR-218 before returning home.

A lichen on rocks. This is probably Umbilicaria mammulata which, according to the lichen guide - guide to twelve common and conspicuous lichens of Georgia’s Piedmont – is a brown, foliose lichen with one attachment point at the center. It grows on rocks, as these were, and on mountain cliffs on Mount Yonah in White County. These lichens were about 12 inches in diameter and had pealed off the rock to reveal black backs.

A closer view.

Another lichen. One of the yellow-gold lichens.

A closer view.

The Noontootla Creek area will be worth visiting in the Spring when the rhododendrons and other wildflowers bloom.

Click on an image to view a larger image


- ScenicUSA - Georgia: Noontootla Creek

- Appalachian and Benton MacKaye Trail Maps: Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina
- Lichens: A guide to twelve common and conspicuous lichens of Georgia’s Piedmont

Related post:

- Over The Hills And Through The Woods: Raven Cliffs, Bob’s Creek, And Brasstown Bald


Joy Window said...

This reminds me of my trip to the Appalachians from Atlanta, to Anna Ruby Falls last year. I was interested to see the very different forest species from those at home (northern New South Wales, Australia). I stopped at the store that sells camping gear for all those people who have sent a day or two on the trail and realise they have forgotten something essential. I also read Bill Bryson's "A walk in the Woods", about his walk along park of the trail - hilarious.

JSK said...

Funny! I've never been to Anna Ruby Falls.
This area was about 1,600-2,000 feet higher than where we live. The pine trees are a different species from those at lower elevations as are the rhododendrons.