Black Rock Mountain State Park, Georgia James E. Edmond Backcountry Trail

Yesterday we hiked with friends at Black Rock State Park near Clayton, Georgia. It was a very nice day, with the threat of rain as we started off on this adventure. This hike is rated difficult to strenuous and is 7.2 miles in length. It is a lollipop. Eight intrepid hikers began their journey into the known. Mr. T and I had hiked this trail several years ago and I was looking forward to the views at Lookoff Mountain.

Beautiful green woods surrounded us as we made our way leisurely downhill, conversation floating lightly in the air around us as people started to catch up since the last time they were together.  Hiking can be a very social event depending on the group size.
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We passed several small water features as we went eating lunch at the larger of the two right off the trail.

 

Continuing on we crossed several roads, wildflowers dotting the sides.  I saw a few fire pinks and daisies, solomons seal past its prime, spiderwort, and purple clover on our hike.  Not pictured were flame azaleas.  The trillium I saw on this trail were past their prime as well.  I also saw mayapples (pictured below) in places.

 

The trail began its steep ascent as it headed towards Lookoff Mountain. The air in places was quite stagnant and humid. Dehydration and heat illnesses are a threat in these conditions. Luckily everyone had plenty of water. Most hikers had bandannas they could dip into cool mountain streams to bring down their temps and cool off. We stopped several times to allow the group to catch up so we weren’t strung out too far apart.

The Mountain Laurel were blooming.  We also ran into a large patch of Indian Pipe, the largest I have ever seen and stopped to take photos.  The picture below is just a very small representation of what was actually here.  Here’s a link to more information about this parasitic plant if you are interested:

https://botany.org/Parasitic_Plants/Monotropa_uniflora.php

 

The trail also had a variety of mushrooms and fungi. I did not take a picture but I saw what someone told me on another hike was turkey tail fungus which is very common.

Here are some photos of other fungus and mushrooms I saw on the trail.

 

Crossing a log I came across this millipede. I was careful not to step on him as I crossed to the other side.  I spotted several on our hike yesterday.  They are not poisonous but their fluids can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

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We got to the turnoff to Lookoff Mountain.  Some hikers stayed behind to recuperate from the hard climb up.  The view was very nice today and surprisingly clear considering the weather.   We could see the sun through the trees at times as we made our way through the woods. As we started to leave, I saw what I believe was Michaux’s Saxifrage growing on the rock face but I didn’t want to cross the chain for a better look. I was tempted though but better to stay safe.

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We met back up with the group and continued our trip back to the trailhead. Only about 4 miles back.  The trail was a ridgeline for most of the way to the first gravel road. We made our way across and continued on accompanied by the musical sound of flowing water for awhile.

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As we approached our second road crossing, it became clear that the final up of about 650 feet in elevation gain was going to be too much for some of group for various reasons so three of us peeled off and made our way towards the cars. I had considered staying back but decided I needed the exercise. Hiking requires good heart and lung health and you have to keep it up. Typically I would have struggled but have been doing much better lately with my stair climbing and other health tweaks and I was pretty much able to keep up with a few stops for water on the way.  We had a slight bit of rain, the forest a beautiful sea of green as we moved along.

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We finally reached the trailhead and drove back down the mountain to pick up the rest of our group. As I said on the trail, a very challenging trail for its relatively short length.

https://gastateparks.org/BlackRockMountain/Trails

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