May 6, 2017, Sprewell Bluff WMA, Meriwether and Talbot Counties

Posted under: Middle Georgia .

Meet:  10:00am, Mitchell Gap on Chalybeate Springs Road, near Manchester. 

Squarehead, Tetragonetheca helianthoides

Squarehead, Tetragonetheca helianthoides

Description:  This will be the first Botanical Society field trip to a newly purchased portion of Sprewell Bluff WMA. Included in the new area is a bluff overlooking Pigeon Creek that may have the largest population of turkeybeard, Xerophyllum asphodeloides, in the state. The slopes are a heath bluff with mountain laurel and Piedmont rhododendron, Rhododendron minus, both of which should be in flower.  Montane longleaf pines are the dominant tree on much of the bluff. We should also see showy skullcap, Scutellaria pseudoserrata, which has the largest flowers of all Georgia’s skullcaps species.  After the Turkeybeard Bluff, we will drive toward the confluence of Pigeon Creek and the Flint River. Along the way, we should encounter a good variety of wildflowers, including squareheads, Tetragonotheca helianthoides. If the group is willing, we may wade across Pigeon Creek to see a rare Piedmont glade with some interesting plants.

Directions:  From the Atlanta area, take I-85 south to Exit 41, US 27 Alt, and head south. Stay on US 27 Alt through Warm Springs, and 3 more miles to the crest of Pine Mountain. Turn left onto GA 190 and take it to GA 41, just outside of Manchester. Turn right on GA 41, heading south. In about 5 miles, just as you are approaching the small town of Woodland, turn left onto Pleasant Valley Road. There is a sign here for Old South Farm Museum. Take Pleasant Valley Rd. to where it dead ends at Chalybeate Springs Rd. Turn left and take Chalybeate Springs to where it crests Pine Mountain at Mitchell Gap.  There is a large brown and white sign for Sprewell Bluff WMA at the gap. Turn right on to the dirt road and park along the road at the bottom of the hill. If you are using Google for navigation, you can search for Mitchell Gap.

Bring:  Water, lunch, bug spray, hand lens, dress for the weather. Bring a camera for some spectacular views. We will stop at some point just inside the WMA and carpool the rest of the way. The road in is rough and high clearance vehicles are recommended.

Facilities: None. Strategically placed trees and shrubs will be provided.

Walking difficulty: Mostly easy on rocky slopes. There are no trails yet, so walking will be cross-country, or along roads. 

Contact:  Hal Massie, 478-957-6095. Reception may be iffy on the morning of the trip.