north georgia mountains

The mountain trip was somehow not quite as interesting as the hike around campus, despite being off campus — but it most definitely had its merits. Maybe a little too much driving…but some incredible wildlife (particularly wildflower) diversity along the way.

1. Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail

A beautiful little boardwalk with an incredibly high amount of diversity, located in the Cumberland Plateau of Northwest GA. We saw three species of trilium (bent, trailing, and little sweet betsy) and a woodchuck family, which really kind of rocked. We also saw some great columbine flowers, which are beautiful with all their colors and geometric patterns.

The highlight, though, was the waterfall. It was considerably larger than the one the day before, with twin streams of water fallingfifty or so feet. We crawled up the rocks to stand between the two streams, where everything smelled a little damp and musty and the rocks were slick with moss. I then crawled down the ledges that led to the pool of water below and hiked up the side of the canyon to get a bird’s eye view of the river below — it was like another world.

2. Carter’s Lake

This short wildlife hike was simple and to the point, located in the Ridge & Valley section of Northwest GA. We saw a fourth species of trillium (yellow trillium), as well as the species from earlier. There was a beautiful patch of mayapples, and various other little wildflowers from the day before. It was a simple hike, and we were all focused on food, but I still managed to find six four-leaf clovers…

3. Sosebee Cove

Another short wildlife hike (under .5 miles, but it took 2 hours) located in the Blue Ridge mountains. We saw (you guessed it) more species of trillium to add to our list: nodding, simile,  great white, and catesby. A great find was a showy orchid — it was actually small compared to its name, but it was already blooming, while its brothers and sisters were waiting for the mountainside to warm up.  A unique and spectacular find was the ginseng plant, found only by going off the trail to look at another trillium. And finally, we saw the second largest buckeye tree in the world — it was spectacularly huge and covered in moss; we spent the whole two hours looking for it, but found it right next to the car…go figure. Finally, we saw the most beautiful jack in the pulp I’ve ever seen, with distinct red-purple and green-yellow stripes.

So, in total, we found seven species of trillium, a ginseng plant, a beautiful waterfall, and some pretty showy orchids. The experience felt a little rushed with all the driving, but it was amazing to see such high wildlife diversity over the north part of Georgia.

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