Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile


sweetriverdog says...Georgia vs. Clemson in...

 Top Row Dawg
Gold Member
Georgia Natural Wonder #167 - Pine Mountain - FDR State Park - Trail - Safari
November 04, 2020 01:07AM

Georgia Natural Wonder #167 - Pine Mountain - FDR State Park - Trail - Safari

Now we came down here with GNW #4, Warm Springs, Georgia. We talked about the Warm Springs Institute.

We talked about how Franklin D. Roosevelt sought a treatment for his paralytic illness in nearby Warm Springs and built the Little White House.

We came to Pine Mountain again with GNW #50 - Cason J. Calloway Memorial Forest – Calloway Gardens.

Pine Mountain Ridge in background.

All about the Azaleas.

Today we return to Pine Mountain as a wonder itself. Pine Mountain Ridge, is Georgia's southernmost mountainous area. It is also the southernmost mountainous area in the United States east of the Mississippi River. We include the State Park, the Pine Mountain Trail, with tangents on a local Wildlife Park, the town of Pine Mountain, and a Part 2 post on Harris County.

The Pine Mountain Range is a long ridge in Meriwether County, Georgia, Harris County, Georgia, and Talbot County, Georgia. In fact, the highest altitudes in all three of these west Georgia counties can be found along the range.

The Pine Mountain Range is part of a larger geological feature known as the Pine Mountain Terrane, which extends into eastern Alabama. The ridge in Georgia exceeds 1,100 feet of elevation for a distance of about 20 miles. These are the highest elevations at so southerly a latitude in the eastern half of the continental United States. The entire Pine Mountain Terrane is geologically distinct from the Appalachian Range, which terminates farther north in Georgia and Alabama.

The Pine Mountain Range begins around Lake Harding, and runs northeast through Harris County. U.S. Route 27, as well as Georgia State Routes 190 and 354, cross over the ridge south and east of the city of Pine Mountain. The ridge then parallels the Harris-Meriwether County line, where the highest point on the range, Dowdell's Knob, is found.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a brick oven and picnic area constructed at this location for use during his many stays at his house in nearby Warm Springs.

It then parallels the Talbot - Meriwether County line south of Manchester. At the extreme eastern end of the Pine Mountain Ridge, it is intersected by the Flint River, forming the steep bluffs of Sprewell Bluff State Park. We covered this in GNW #67 - Flint River Rapids and Thomaston

Sprewell Bluff.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park

F.D. Roosevelt State Park, the largest state park in Georgia, is found along the ridge in northern Harris County.

F.D. Roosevelt State Park is a 9,049 acres Georgia state park located near Pine Mountain and Warm Springs. The park is named for former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The western portion of the park, formerly named Pine Mountain State Park, was named a National Historic Landmark in 1997.

Several structures in the park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the Great Depression, including a stone swimming pool and Roosevelt's favorite picnic spot at Dowdell's Knob, overlooking the valley below. President Roosevelt would take polio patients suffering from depression along on picnics at Dowdell's Knob.

Dowdell's Knob Marker.

Looking west on Georgia Highway 190, toward the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Bridge.

Dowdell Knob Road (to the left) leads to Dowdell's Knob. The area is a Georgia State Park, and the entrance gate is visible. The road is normally open during daylight hours.

The View from Dowdell's Knob. The "wide expanse of land and sky" noted on the marker.


The region containing the modern-day park was inhabited by the Creek Nation until ceded under the Treaties of 1825 and 1826, which granted the territories between the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers to the State of Georgia. An influx of settlers established the town of Kings Gap, named after King's Trading Post located near the modern-day Liberty Bell Pool. The town eventually vanished by the 20th century.

In 1924, Franklin Delano Roosevelt first visited the warm springs located near the towns of Warm Springs and Bullochville. He came to the springs seeking relief from the symptoms of the paralytic illness he had contracted some years earlier. In 1927, Roosevelt and others established the Warm Springs Foundation, later known as the Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, which established therapeutic programs utilizing the area's mineral springs. Since then, the Institute has developed into a complex of facilities helping those with disabilities.

King's Gap today.

Just prior to being elected president of the United States in 1932, Roosevelt built a residence nearby which would come to be known as the Little White House. After his election to the presidency, he spearheaded the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It was this organization which, in 1935, established a camp near the modern-day park entrance on Highway 354.

From this camp, the young men of the CCC constructed much of the present state park, including the Liberty Bell Pool, the Roosevelt Lodge, several cabins.

The CCC created the 15-acre Lake Delanor and its companion, the 25-acre Lake Franklin. Because of the well-preserved CCC design, layout, and buildings of the western half of the park, and for its association with Roosevelt, that area was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1997.

Historic Liberty Bell Pool is located at the FD Roosevelt State Park on Highway 354 in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

The stone pool was constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps and is fed by the hot springs in the park.

I did not know this pool was heated.

One of the reasons why President Roosevelt enjoyed the park was for the healing qualities gained from relaxing in the springs. The pool was built using natural, local stone which matches the park buildings.

The pool is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday from 11am to 6pm and Sundays from 1pm to 6pm between May and July.

Dawgs take over during certain days.

It is open at weekends only in August and again on Labor Day during the same hours.

Geology and geography

F.D. Roosevelt State Park is Georgia's largest state park. The Pine Mountain Ridge, which extends into Alabama, is composed of quartzite rock formations. It is geologically a feature of the Piedmont Plateau, not the Appalachian Mountains farther north.

Pine Mountain's elevation causes problems to some planes not expecting a mountain this far south in Georgia.

Dowdell's Knob is the highest point in F. D. Roosevelt State Park, at 1,395 feet. The knob was named for two pioneer Harris County settlers: Lewis & James Dowdell.

The park contains the 23-mile long Pine Mountain Trail, a scenic nature path that winds through both hardwood and pine forests, featuring hickory and several species of oak; forest undergrowth includes buckeye, pawpaw, azalea, blueberry and huckleberry.

The trail has thirteen primitive back country campsites for backpackers. The Pine Mountain Trail is wholly maintained by the volunteers of the Pine Mountain Trail Association. In addition, the park contains two stocked fishing lakes and a historic trading post.

There is a clump of surviving resistant chestnut trees in the park. A stand of rare American chestnut trees that somehow escaped a blight that killed off most of their kind in the early 1900s has been discovered along the Pine Mountain hiking trail within miles of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Little White House at Warm Springs, officials say.

"FDR may have roasted some chestnuts on his fire for Christmas or enjoyed their blooms in the spring,'' said Nathan Klaus, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources who spotted the trees while scouting for areas to replant longleaf pines, another once-dominant species that was nearly wiped out by unbridled logging and a shift to faster-growing pines.

Recent events

On April 12, 2007, the 62nd anniversary of Roosevelt's death, a 1,200-pound bronze statue was unveiled at Dowdell's Knob.

The statue depicts Roosevelt sitting on his removable car seat and wearing his leg braces.

The statue, commissioned by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, was created by Atlanta sculptor Martin Dawe.

Really something, this Dowdell's Knob.

Old placement of historical marker right by Secret Service grill.

Secret Service Grill still there.

Placement of the "This was his Georgia" sign today.

During the 2011 Super Outbreak, an EF2 tornado caused severe damage to the park, especially in the campgrounds. It was estimated that 30% of the structures in one of the park's group campground areas were destroyed.

Pine Mountain Trail

Since 1975, volunteers of all ages have labored to build and maintain the Pine Mountain Trail, a 23-mile footpath. This main trail and connecting loops that crosses and follows the beautiful Pine Mountain ridge in west central Georgia, is inside the Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park and near Callaway Gardens. Quiet woods, sparkling streams, misty waterfalls, rock outcroppings, varied forest, scenic overlooks, deer and turkey await your discovery. Just follow the blazes (6” by 2 ½” rectangles painted on trees).

Two-foot-high rock cairns and mileage markers assist the hiker. Wooden location and mileage signs have been placed at each road crossing, trail head, junction, campsite, and at all named parking lots. The Pine Mountain Trail offers clear crisp views of distant ridges in winter, with occasional snowfall. In the summer there are lush green ferns and lowland flowers. Wild flowers are abundant and in spring you will find flowering dogwood, native azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Fall brings bright and beautiful leaves of hickory, oak, dogwood and maple, which change from day to day.

Much of the land that the Pine Mountain Trail crosses once belonged to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His farm was near the site of WJSP-TV. FDR often visited Dowdell Knob and the area of the Wolfden and Cascade Falls as well as the fish hatchery ponds built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930’s. On April 12, 1945, Roosevelt died at the Little White House at Warm Springs, less than a mile from the trail and Cascade Falls.

The Pine Mountain Trail Association, Inc. (PMTA) was organized to design and build the best trail system possible. Countless hours went into planning, scouting and preparing the land prior to construction. Members and volunteers started working on a weekly schedule, seeking the best route, selecting points of interest and building a safe and functional trail.

Until new trails could be built, old existing horse trails and Boy Scout trails were used as temporary connecting paths. Miles of trail were obtained in this way but it took years of rerouting and work to get the final route.

The result: a trail designed for maximum enjoyment with many points of interest and few steep, tiring grades. After working in winter’s sweltering heat, a 23-mile, blue-blazed trail was opened from the FDR park entrance (near the Country Store at US 27 and Georgia 190) past Dowdell Knob and on the WJSP-TV tower near Warm Springs.

Less than two miles remain of the old trail. The Pine Mountain Trail Association appreciates the cooperation of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the continuing efforts of the employees of FDR State Park.

Registries at the eastern end of the trail and near the FDR Park office have been signed by tens of thousands of hikers from every state and many foreign countries. It is estimated that 50,000 hikers use the trail each year and over 1 million hikers had hiked part of the trail by 1995. The trail is for foot travel only. Horses, wheeled vehicles and firearms are strictly forbidden.

In addition to the 23-mile main trail there are six loops formed by over nine miles of connecting trails. There are thirteen designated named back-country/backpacking campsites are at various places a short distance off the trail.

Pine Mountain Trail Association

Wolf Den Loop: (6.7 miles) This is considered one of the most beautiful stretches of trail in the Southeast and is the most popular section of Pine Mountain Trail system.

The Wolf Den Loop is formed with the 1.7 mile Beaver Pond Trail and 5 miles of the main PMT. There are two trailhead entry points to this loop. One is at the parking lot near the WJSP-TV tower on Alt US 85W just north of Ga. 190 and the other on Ga. 190 at Rocky Point Parking Lot (noted on the PMT map as near Mile 18.) Thus you can hike the loop from either point and suggested is hiking the loop clockwise.

Cascade Falls and the Wolfden area: Don't want to hike the whole 6.7 mile loop? Do just do what we call an "out and back" hike from the WJSP-TV Tower Parking Lot to the falls area.

This is totally the trail to take. Just a big stretch of the legs to go farther.

It is about 2.1 miles or just over an hours hike to Cascade Falls. You'll cross over water 13 times on the way (using stepping stones at most crossings along with 6 bridges.)

Take a break at Cascade Falls.

Hike up to the top of the Wolf Den cave cliff (carefully) by following the main trail west then ease to the top of the cliff.

It is highly suggested NOT to climb onto the top of the waterfalls as it is quite slippery. It is ok to wade in the pool, but caution there due to rocks in the bottom.

Lots of native plants and trees along the way to Cascade Falls.

This is a great hike year round.

Top Row Dawg Addendum

Now I stayed at a private Honey Moon lodge with the wife after our son was born. Took a second Honeymoon. These are my images I dug up of the trail hike.

Csonka Falls - wife like a tree leaning over pool.

We found several rocky sections along Bumblebee Ridge.

One with Nature. She was whimsical.

We made it to the top of Wolf Den Cliff.

Dowdell's Knob.

Hiking other parts of trail the next day.

The " I thought we were going to Calloway Gardens today " look.

Calloway Gardens.

Flower Power. Wife more in her element here.

Waterfalls in Calloway Gardens.

Butterfly Center.

Wild Animal Safari

Keef reminded me of the Wild Animal Safari near Pine Mountain in a post last week. Now admittedly, I have never been. It was Lion Country Safari back in the day.

Just north of Pine Mountain, GA off Hwy 27 you will encounter one of the most unique experiences of your life. Animals! Exotic animals! LOTS of exotic animals!

I wouldn't drive my personal car in here. confused smiley

An up close and personal adventure!

Wild Animal Safari features two different ways of seeing these exotic animals. The Serengeti Adventure is a 3-mile drive through section where you will have a chance not only to see, but also to feed and touch animals from around the world.

Designed to embrace a natural open setting, the drive will bring you face to face with animals such as giraffes, zebras, buffalo, camels, a rhino and many more.

You have the choice of touring through in your own vehicle, a rental van, or the guided tour bus (seasonal).

What’s a liger?

Once you have finished the Serengeti Adventure, take a casual stroll through The Walk-About, our walk-through section featuring bears, hyenas, alligators, monkeys, and even ligers.

What’s a liger? You’ll have to come and see for yourself.

Your ticket is good for the whole day, so take advantage of the opportunity to see different animals on each trip.


Take a break in between trips and visit the Safari Café for a bite to eat and load up on themed and animal related gifts in our gift shop, The Outpost.

Let them do the driving.

Oh man this ridge covers three counties we haven't done a tangent on. I will do a part two tangent on the town of Pine Mountain and Harris County next week. I will do Pine Mountain and Meriwether County in a couple of weeks as a separate wonder. I remember driving through Manchester every year as a child going to Panama City Beach. Today's GNW Gals with exotic Animals.

Edited 13 time(s). Last edit at 11/25/2020 03:48AM by Top Row Dawg.

Georgia Natural Wonder #167 - Pine Mountain - FDR State Park - Trail - Safari

Top Row Dawg244November 04, 2020 01:07AM

Sorry, you do not have permission to post/reply in this forum.