Monday, December 24, 2012

White County: Raven Cliffs Wilderness

October 20th, 2012. On our way back from Young Harris we drove down the Richard B. Russel Highway (GA-348) which skirts the Raven Cliffs Wilderness. Raven Cliffs or Duke’s Creek Falls is a popular stop along this highway. We, however, drove south, turned GA-75 and US-129/GA-11. We took the Kellum Valley Rd north from the highway. At Harkins Road, the road continues as Toll Gate Road to a trail head for the Raven Cliffs Wilderness.

The road follows Towns Creek and is paved at first and then graveled to the trailhead. Just past the last house, the road was ‘flooded’ by what appeared to be spring water that flooded the area west of the road and the road itself for about 100 yards or so. Beautifully clear water; 2 to 3 inches or deeper in some parts.

Gentiana saponaria (Soapwort Gentian, Harvestbells)
It wasn’t long before we found patches of Gentiana saponaria (Soapwort Gentian, Harestbells). We continued to find them by the road to the trail head.

The first patch of gentians on the east side of the road. I spotted five blooming plants in this photo alone. There were more to the left of this area.

An individual plant. The blooms were a deep blue-purple and fully opened.

Flowers, up close

We wandered around the trailhead and found several interesting items…

An unidentified ‘Aster.’

A small plant in the woods at the trail head

A bud,

An individual flower, and …

in proflie

A Grapefern (Botrychium sp.)


And then we found a shallow well that was probably intended to impound spring water. There was only a little water in it.

From a short distance

A closer view

The area along Toll Road was quite moist and will be interesting to visit in different seasons.
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