Hiking the Bartram Trail with ForestWatch

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By Melanie Vickers : Board Secretary

Hikers pause for a photo op on another leg of the Bartram Trail journey.
Photo credit: 
Melanie Vickers

In January 2020, Georgia ForestWatch challenged our membership to hike the entire length (38 miles) of the Bartram Trail in Georgia by offering a series of hikes. In February 2020, we teamed up with the GA/NC Bartram Trail Society (now the Blueridge Bartram Trail Conservancy), and 23 hikers completed the first 9.2-mile section from Sandy Ford Rd to the GA/SC line at the Chattooga River.  We were all geared up to hike the second leg from Sandy Ford to Warwoman Dell when the COVID hit and curtailed outings.   In late 2020, we resumed modified outings with smaller groups and no shuttles. The Bartram challenge was renewed!  Georgia ForestWatch recently made the decision to allow car sharing (with masks and windows down), so we will be able to cover more terrain in future hikes by using shuttles.  Hikers have completed 23 miles of the Bartram in Georgia as of April, 2021.  

The Bartram Trail in Georgia travels through some of Georgia’s most majestic forests, beginning at the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River and passing through three Georgia Mountains Treasures: Rabun Bald, Big Shoals, and Thrifts Ferry.  Upcoming section hikes will take us to Martin Creek Falls, Pinnacle Knob, and Rabun Bald (the second highest peak in Georgia).

The trail’s namesake, William Bartram, was a naturalist who explored the area from 1773 to 1777.   Bartram published an account of his exploration through the southern United States in vivid detail in his book, Bartram’s Travels.  William Bartram was also famous for his beautiful illustrations of the flora and fauna he encountered in his travels.  

Throughout this hike series, participants have enjoyed learning about Bartram’s travels in this area from co-leader Brent Martin, a past Executive Director of Georgia ForestWatch and currently Executive Director of Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Conservancy.  In the spirit of the explorer/naturalist/botanist William Bartram, we have stopped on our hikes to admire the multitude of wildflowers and birds our Georgia mountains provide. If you, like William Bartram, feel “impelled by a restless spirit of curiosity in pursuit of new productions of nature”, join us on our next Bartram hike in the northeast Georgia Mountains.  

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