Sunday, September 17, Oaky Woods WMA, Houston Co.

Posted under: South Georgia .

Meet:  10:00 AM, at Taco Bell Gas station, intersection of GA Hwy. 96 and US Hwy.129 just north of Bonaire.

Description:  Oaky Woods boasts of 15 oak species in its 12,750 acres of varied habitats.  The peculiar Durand Oak (Quercus sinuata) is the strangest, preferring the rich blackland prairie soils and adjacent floodplains.   We will see early fall legumes and composites in the chalk prairies.  Then, following lunch, we will look for shadow witch orchids (Ponthieva racemosa) growing in damp, narrow ravines and visit an old-growth floodplain forest.  If lucky, we will be in time to gather pawpaws. Note:  Roads in WMA are generally good but with coarse gravel and a few eroded spots to negotiate.  We will carpool on site into cars/trucks with high clearance.

Location:  Oaky Woods WMA is on the eastern edge of the Fort Valley Plateau, accessed from Oaky Woods Road, some 4.5 mi. south of Bonaire along US Hwy. 129 at the huge Frito Lay Manufacturing Compound.  From the Meeting Place (see above) we will carpool south, turn left at Frito Lay and park extra vehicles at the kiosk where the access road tees into the loop road.

Walking:  Easy to moderate walks from vehicles mostly off trails following small ravines and bush-whacking in a floodplain; easy walks along old roads into at least one chalk prairie.

Facilities:   No facilities on site.

Bring:  Hiking boots or shoes with ankle support recommended.  The ravines may be moist and slick in spots, but generally you want good firm shoes.  Insect repellent for chiggers and ticks. Bring lunch or snacks to eat near vehicles. Butterfly binocs to view numerous skippers and other butterflies.

Leader:  Tom Patrick (404) 293-2948, tom.patrick@dnr.ga.gov.