May 27, 2017, Arkaquah Trail, Brasstown Bald, Towns & Union Counties

Posted under: North Georgia.

Vasey’s Trillium, Trillium vaseyi

Meet: 10:00am in the parking lot on top of Brasstown Bald. (Note: There is a per-person parking fee to park on Brasstown Bald.) 

Hound’s Tongue, Cynoglossum, virginianum

Description: The Arkaquah Trail starts below the summit of the highest peak in Georgia. We will hike through a range of plant communities down to a rock outcrop that should have flowering rock harlequin (Capnoides sempervirens). Along the way, we should see plenty of Vasey’s trillium (Trillium vaseyi), and a few pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule), as well as mountain (Acer spicatum) and striped (Acer pensylvanicum) maple. In previous years, we’ve had as many as 6 different species of trilliums on this trail.  We should also see Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens) and, perhaps, minnie-bush (Menziesia pilosa).  After lunch, we will walk back to the parking lot. If there is still interest, we will then drive down to Track Rock Gap to explore the bottom end of the Arkaquah Trail.  The ultramafic soils at the base of Brasstown Bald should yield the tall flowering stalks of American columbo (Frasera caroliniensis), as well as hound’s tongue (Cynoglossum virginianum). 

Directions: Take US 19 south from Blairsville for 8 miles, then turn left onto GA 180 for another 8 miles. At the sign for Brasstown Bald, turn left onto GA 180 Spur and follow it up to the parking area. From the south, take GA 60/US 19 north from Dahlonega.  Eventually US19 veers to the right at Stonepile Gap, stay on US 19 headed north.  You’ll turn left at Turner’s Corner as you cross the Chestatee River, and eventually cross Neel’s Gap.  After passing Vogel State Park, start looking for GA 180 to the right.  The road to Brasstown Bald, GA 180 Spur, will be 8 miles on the left.

Striped Maple, Acer spicatum

Parking: Brasstown Bald is a National Forest Recreation Area, so a parking fee is required. Please pay at the entrance booth. Parking is free at Track Rock Gap, but rather limited.

Facilities: Only at the Brasstown Bald parking lot.  After that, it’s trees and boulders.

Walking:   The Arkaquah Trail is strenuous. The first part of this hike is mostly downhill, but will be a gradual uphill walk back to the parking lot. Total distanc

e will be about 4 miles.  Because we are doing an out-and-back walk this year, we will miss the most strenuous portions of the trail, but persons with physical limitations should still be aware of the rugged nature of this area. 

Lunch:  Bring to eat at a rock outcrop along the trail.

Leader:  Hal Massie, 478-957-6095 (cells will be on the morning of the hike, reception may be poor); Rich Reaves, 770-827-5186


Sunday, May 28, 2017, Wagon Train Trail, Brasstown Bald, Towns & Union Counties

Posted under: North Georgia.

Meet: 10:00 AM in the parking lot on top of Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest mountain.

Description: The Wagon Train Trail is a much easier trail than the Arkaquah Trail, following the bed of an old wagon road. The trail winds down the north side of Brasstown Bald starting in a cloud forest habitat.  As we descend, we’ll pass rock cuts literally dripping moss, saxifrage, and lichens.  We should see three or four species of trillium, particularly Vasey’s trillium (Trillium vaseyi).  Pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) are possible, as well as Cumberland rhododendron (Rhododendron bakeri), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) and Appalachian bluet (Houstonia serpyllifolia).  As always, we will search rock outcrops for rock harlequin (Capnoides sempervirens).

Directions: Take US 19 south from Blairsville for 8 miles, then turn left onto GA 180 for another 8 miles. At the sign for Brasstown Bald, turn left onto GA 180 Spur and follow it up to the parking area. We’ll meet near the fee collection booth. From the south, take GA 60/US 19 north from Dahlonega.  Eventually US 19 veers to the right at Stonepile Gap; stay on US 19 headed north.  You’ll turn left at Turner’s Corner as you cross the Chestatee River, and eventually cross Neel’s Gap.  After passing Vogel State Park, start looking for GA 180 to the right and take it.  The road to Brasstown Bald, GA 180 Spur, will be 8 miles on the left.

Parking: Brasstown Bald is a National Forest Recreation Area, so a parking fee is required. Please pay at the entrance booth.

Facilities: At meeting place only, strategically placed trees on hike.

Walking: The Wagon Train Trail is fairly easy on the way down.  Coming back up is only moderately strenuous.  This trail was originally graded for wagons, so it is much easier than the Arkaquah Trail.  Still, this is a high mountain trail with a rocky tread and hikers should be reasonably fit.  We’ll walk about 5 miles, half of it uphill.

Bring: Bring to eat at some point along the trail.  We’ll try to pick a suitably lovely spot. The weather can be considerably cooler on top of Brasstown, dress appropriately.

Leaders: Hal Massie, 478-957-6095 (cells will be on the morning of the hike, reception may be poor); Rich Reaves, 770-827-5186



Sunday, May 28, 2017, Palisades Canoe Float & Spring Flora, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, 10:00 a.m. ­– 3:00 p.m., Cobb/Fulton Counties

Posted under: Atlanta area; Canoe Trips.

Note: This trip was originally set for May 21 and rescheduled.

Description:  Bring your own canoe or kayak and join the Georgia Botanical Society and naturalist Jerry Hightower for a leisurely float on the Chattahoochee River. We will float a three-mile section of the river from Powers Island to Paces Mill at US Hwy 41, exploring plants, geology, and wildlife, including an extraordinary array of late spring wildflowers. There are three mild Class 1.5 rapids suitable for beginners along this part of the river. The Palisades have narrow floodplains and steep ridges rising to over 1,000 feet. The area offers a great diversity of habitats and includes oak-hickory forest, steep north-facing slopes, mesic ravine forest, and floodplain forest. Created by the geologic action of the Brevard Fault, the river, and the effects of weather, this is a rugged and beautiful section of the river. We will stop at Devil’s Stair Step Beach (Diving Rock) for lunch and a short loop walk.  

Location: Meet at Powers Island, 5862 Interstate North Pkwy., Sandy Springs, Georgia at 10:00 a.m. to unload equipment.  We will then take the majority of the vehicles to Paces Mill and shuttle the drivers back to Powers Island.  Please let Jerry know if you have a multi-passenger vehicle and could help with the shuttle.

Bring:  Lunch, sunscreen, hat, rain gear, and water.  Camera, binoculars, and hand lens are recommended. Bring a day pack or other bag to secure items inside your boat. $3.00 daily parking pass or annual parking pass needed.

Limit:  30

Directions:  See or call 678-538-1200.  

Bathroom Facilities:  At Powers Island, our lunch stop, and at Paces Mill.

Fees: $3 parking fee at the Recreation Area unless you have an annual pass.  

Reservations are required: Contact Jerry Hightower at <   or  770-206-0338


Monday, May 29, 2017, Mountain Wetlands in the Shadow of Brasstown Bald, Union & Towns Counties

Posted under: North Carolina; North Georgia.

Field Trip Leaders:  Rich Reaves and Hal Massie 

Botsoccers and Green Pitcher Plants at Reed Branch Wet Meadow

Description:  Monday’s trip will be a relaxed visit to three different wetland sites – the Eller Seep in North Carolina, Reed Branch Preserve, and a stream near Young Harris.  At the Eller Seep, just barely across the North Carolina line, we’ll see the Federally Endangered green pitcher plant, Sarracenia oreophila, as well as other mountain bog plants. It probably won’t be in flower, but we’ll see an odd member of the rose family, Canada burnet, Sanguisorba canadensis, that is only known from one county back in Georgia. The second site will be back across the state line – Reed Branch Wet Meadow Preserve. Both the Ellis Seep and Reed Branch are owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. Reed Branch has a much larger population of green pitcher plants than Ellis Seep, along with a good number of wildflowers that prefer wet meadows. Our last stop, after lunch, will be to a small stream near the town of Young Harris and adjoining the Brasstown Valley Resort. This will be an exploratory trip where we have seen interesting plants on scouting trips in the past. Roads near the wetland are consistent sites for American Columbo, Frasera caroliniensis.

Location:  We will start in Hiawassee, head north to the Eller Seep, which is just inside North Carolina, then drive back into Georgia for a quick stop at the Reed Branch Preserve. After Reed Branch, we will head back into Hiawassee for a leisurely lunch. After lunch we will travel west on Hwy 76 to an interesting stream site near the Brasstown Valley Resort, just outside of Young Harris.

Meet : 10:00  am at the Ingles in Hiawassee (94 N Main St, Hiawassee). Ingles is on the north side of the highway, just east of the Hwy 76 and Hwy 75 split.

Bathroom Facilities: In Hiawassee, none at any of the wetlands. 

Walking Difficulty: Easy. We will make short walks from the vehicles to the wetlands. The longest walk will only be 200 yards.

Bring: Snacks, & water.  For those who are interested, we will eat at a Mexican Restaurant in Hiawassee.  Remember to dress for the weather and wear comfortable hiking shoes. It is possible that we might get our feet a little wet or muddy. You may wish to bring a hand lens, notebook, and camera. 

Contact: Rich Reaves (770-827-5186) or Hal Massie (478-957-6095)

June 3, 2017, Rare and Beautiful Plants of the Coosa Prairies, Floyd County

Posted under: Northwest Georgia.

Wavyleaf Purple Coneflower (Echinacea simulata)

June 3, 2017, Rare and Beautiful Plants of the Coosa Prairies, Floyd County 

Meet: 10:00 AM in Rolator Park, Cave Spring, Floyd County

Description: We will visit the Coosa Prairies, a Nature Conservancy conservation easement of 929 acres. These remnant prairie sites in extreme western Floyd Co. are listed as the rarest habitat in Georgia by the Nature Conservancy. Some of the many wildflowers we hope to see include: Prairie Milkweed (Asclepias hirtella), Climbing Milkvine (Matelea obliqua), Scaly Blazing Star (Liatris squarrosa), Mohr’s Barbara’s Buttons (Marshallia mohrii), Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), Wavyleaf Purple Coneflower (Echinacea simulata), and many, many more.  

Mohr’s Barbara Buttons, Marshallia mohrii

Directions: Take I-75 north to the second Cartersville exit (exit 290, GA 20). The sign says Rome / Canton. Turn left (west) on Ga. 20. Follow Ga. 20 and then US 411 to Rome, around 20 miles. In Rome, Ga. 20 and US 411 will split. Follow US 411 (left fork) toward Cave Spring. At 2nd traffic light turn right (stay on US 411) and follow all the way to Cave Spring. At traffic light in Cave Spring, go straight, cross bridge and immediately turn left into Rolator Park. Meet at parking area for cave on right.

Bring: Lunch to eat near cars, not carried on walk; plenty of water; bug spray; camera.

Walking: Easy, mostly flat terrain, 1-2 mi., depending on road conditions.

Facilities: Meeting site only

Leaders: Richard Ware – 706-766-5143 – & Malcolm Hodges – 404-473-0441 –

June 17, 2017, Southeast Georgia Gems: Big Hammock and Canoochee Bogs, Tatnall Co

Posted under: South Georgia.

Field Trip Leader: Lisa Kruse  

Description: Big Hammock Wildlife Management Area is outstanding for its geologic features and natural community diversity. Big Hammock is an isolated sand ridge rising nearly 100 feet from the expansive Altamaha River floodplain. The ridge supports the largest known population of state-endemic Georgia Plume (Elliottia racemosa), which will be in bloom. Changing topography brings stark contrasts. On the ridge, old-growth longleaf-oak scrub showcases abundant lichens, grasses, and scattered wildflowers on a white-sand canvas. The slope descends through gnarled evergreen oak forest to pond cypress-tupelo strands. In between, sheltered mesic flats have grand white oak, spruce pine, and American hornbeam. Big Hammock is also a National Natural Landmark Site on the register of the National Park Service, dedicated in 1976.

Canoochee Bogs is the Botanical Society’s inaugural habitat conservation project; Bot Soc is a contributing partner in their protection efforts. These bogs are unique in their high plant diversity; blooms are present all season. We expect to see three species of pitcher plants including the Coastal plain purple pitcher plant, which occurs only at this site in Georgia. Other likely treats are milkweeds, sandhills ironweed, water cowbane, bog asphodel, and- if blooming early- possibly orange-fringed orchid or even snowy orchid.

The trip will consist of two parts. In the morning we will caravan from Glennville to the Big Hammock nature trail, where we will spend about two hours. We will rest for lunch, either a picnic or indoors as we caravan to Bellville near the Canoochee Bogs where there will be a pit-stop for refreshments and a restroom. From Bellville it is about a 1-mile drive to the bogs. We will spend about 2 hours at the bogs. Expect to finish about 4 PM.

Bring: Snacks and/or lunch and plenty of water! Sun protection and insect repellent recommended. Binoculars suggested.

Meeting location:

10 AM, McDonalds in Glennville, on Hwy 301/25 (S. Veteran’s Blvd) about 0.5 miles south of the intersection of Hwy 144 (Barnard St.).

Walking Difficulty: Easy to moderate with slopes and sandy trails. At Big Hammock we will be on a nature trail. At the bogs we will be mostly in low herbaceous vegetation, maximum about 1 meter tall. There is a stream crossing where feet may get wet depending on water levels.

Bathroom Facilities: None at the walking sites, but available during lunch break.

Contact: Lisa Kruse,   Please email Lisa if you plan to attend.

Phone (for day of trip only): 706-318-3287

Sunday, June 18, 2017, Chestatee River Canoe Float & Late Spring Flora, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Lumpkin County

Posted under: Canoe Trips; North Georgia.

 Trip Leader:  Jerry Hightower

 Description: The beautiful Chestatee River flows out of the mountains north of Dahlonega into the Chattahoochee and is an easy 6.3 mile float punctuated with several very mild rapids. Paddle past banks covered with rhododendron and mountain laurel, ferns, and wildflowers. River birch, oaks, and sycamores tower overhead, draped with muscadine, Virginia creeper, and cross vine.  Sheer cliffs slip into currents that flow around the remains of old gold mining operations. We will stop at Big Bend Beach for a picnic lunch and perhaps a swim. This river is more beautiful than the gold beneath its waters. This will be a very leisurely float with multiple investigative stops to fondle plants, terrorize turtles, and startle snakes.

 Location:  We will meet at the Appalachian Outfitters Outpost on Highway 60 near Dahlonega at 10:00 a.m.  There is a small shuttle fee. Bring your own boat or rent canoes and kayaks for the outfitters.  If you would like more information on rentals or to reserve a canoe or kayak please call Appalachian Outfitters at 1-800-426-7117.

 Facilities:  Restrooms and changing rooms are available at Appalachian Outfitters Outpost.

Difficulty:  Suitable for beginners with some experience on rivers.  Class 1.5

Bring:  Lunch, snacks, sunscreen, hat, rain gear, and water. Camera, binoculars, and hand lens are recommended. Bring a day pack or other bag and also a water proof container or bag for your valuables.

Limit:  30 persons

Please contact Jerry Hightower at 770-206-0338 or if you are planning on joining this trip.




June 24-25, 2017, Gray’s Lily, Lilium grayi, Roan Mountain Highlands and Drive on Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted under: North Carolina; Roadside Botanizing; Tennessee.

Gray’s Lily, Lillium grayi, photo by Jim Drake


It has been seven years since the last BotSoc trip to Roan Mountain. Time for an encore!  This weekend trip is sure to be one of the highlights of the field trip calendar.  Many thanks to trip leader Jim Drake for planning a return to this popular spot.  Remember  to make park cabin or motel reservations in advance. 

Scenic View on Roan Mountain, photo by Jim Drake

Description:    The Roan Mountain Highlands is one of the most spectacular areas in the Southern Appalachians for both stunning mountain views and a beautiful array of wildflowers. Roan Mountain Highlands is generally considered to be five peaks divided by Carver’s Gap – two peaks on one side and three peaks on the other side of the gap.

Meet:   9:00 am at the parking lot at Carver’s Gap on the TN/NC state line where NC Hwy 261 becomes TN Hwy 143. This road connects the town of Bakersville, North Carolina to the town of Roan Mountain, Tennessee. At Carver’s Gap, parking is available beside the road and at an adjacent small parking lot. Parking is often at a premium, so contact the field trip leader about car pooling.

Hiking on June 24: We will ascend two balds on the Appalachian Trail (AT) and continue on another trail to the final bald.  The first is Round Bald, and requires a moderate climb of about 100 feet to the summit (elevation 5826 ft.). From Round Bald, we continue northbound along the AT for another 0.7 miles through Engine Gap to the summit of Jane Bald, losing and regaining about 200 feet. Near this point, the trail splits with the left trail continuing on the AT and the right trail leading to the third bald, Grassy Ridge Bald. The climb up is approximately 500 feet to its summit (elevation 6189 feet). The panoramic views from the summit are breath-taking. On a clear day one can see Grandfather, Beech and Sugar Mountains toward the east and Mount Mitchell and Black Mountain toward the south.

Difficulty:  The trail is about 5.1 miles round trip, but participants can hike all or part of the trip. The trail is well maintained, but parts of the trail are strenuous, rocky, and steep.

Along the way, we may see two rare Geum, the Gray’s Lilies, Hypericum spp., possibly Houstonia purperea var. montana and several other endemics. We also hope to see Rhododendron in late bloom.

We are fortunate to have the legendary goat herder and expert botanist Jamey Donaldson and East Tennessee State University professor Dr. Foster Levi as leaders.

For those who would like to see the Gray’s Lilies without doing the entire hike:

Federal site, if you’re not up to hiking:  In years past, several stems of Gray’s Lilies have been observed blooming beside the road that leads from Carver’s Gap to the federal site, plus along the dirt roads within the federal site. These areas are accessible by automobile, but may require a short walk since parking along the main road to the federal site is not allowed. Note: entry to the federal site requires a fee. 

Lower Part of Round Bald: If into a bit of hiking, a few lilies have in past years been observed part way up the first bald (Round Bald).

Round Bald, Engine Gap and Jane Bald: If wishing to climb Round Bald traverse Engine Gap and optionally climb to the summit of Jane Bald, there should be several sites of lilies growing along the trail and in adjacent meadows. Beyond this, the hike becomes more strenuous on the way up Grassy Ridge Bald.

Sunday, June 25 will consist of a leisurely drive with roadside/overlook stops heading south along the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) to meet at the Asheville Botanical Gardens for a brief tour.

Accommodations for Friday night, June 23, and Saturday June 24, 2017 are up to the participants. Roan Mountain Tennessee State Park has a limited number of two-night-minimum rental cabins a few miles from Carver’s Gap. Some of the cabins can sleep multiple individuals. Cabins may still be available, but they often book up quickly for that time of year. Refer to: Cabin reservations can be made either on-line or by phone. The rangers at the park are well-informed and very cooperative. Also, many motels are located in nearby cities in both NC and TN; see

For more hiking information, search the web for “Roan Mountain hike Round Bald to Grassy Ridge Bald”

Bring: Lots of water, snacks, camera, rain gear, and a light jacket (it sometimes gets quite cool even in June). Facilities: an outhouse is at the end of the Carver’s Gap parking lot. The nearby federal area has toilets.

Donations to the Goat Project are welcomed, but not required.

Contact: Jim Drake 678-793-2127 (cell), 678-482-2127 land line

July 8, 9, 2017, Roadside Botanizing in and Around the Okefenokee Swamp, Charlton County

Posted under: Roadside Botanizing; Southeast Georgia.

Roadside Botanizing: Waycross to Folkston and the general area (Saturday – July 8) and Eastern Okefenokee Swamp and Night-Flowering Wild Petunia (Sunday – July 9)

Saturday, July 8

Meet:  10:00 am at Hampton Inn Waycross

Description: We will travel along US1 south toward Folkston.  We will make several roadside stops along GA 177 where we will see non-blooming pitcher plants (Sarracenia minor and Sarracenia psitticina), snowy orchid (Platanthera nivea), and Bartram’s rose gentian (Sabatia bartramii), spoonflower (Peltandra sagittifolia), narrow-leaf barbara’s buttons (Marshallia tenuifolia) loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) and others.  Then continue down US1 to a wonderful wet ditch just north of Folkston.  We will then take GA 23 south from Folkston to a stop at Spanish Indian Creek and then continue into the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ENTRY FEE REQUIRED)for the swamp Island Drive.  Other flowers we may encounter include Pickering’s dawnflower (Stylisma pickeringi)and maybe large-flowered rose gentian (Sabatia grandiflora).  We will be a little flexible in what we do, as the flowers will dictate where we ultimately go.

Directions: Take I-75 south to US 82. Take US 82 east to Waycross. Hampton Inn is on US 82 just past intersection with US 1.

Bring: Lunch to eat on the road – purchase along the way will be difficult due to extremely sparse pickings, water, bug spray.

Walking: Short excursions along the roadside, never out of sight of the vehicles – can be muddy or wet.

Facilities: Possible at stores/stops along route, but unlikely after leaving hotel.

Carpooling is encouraged to make pulling off easier for our roadside botanizing.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Meet:  7:30 am (Note early start time!) at Hampton Inn Waycross. Yes you read that correctly! We go in search of night-flowering wild petunia in the early morning before its flowers drop off.

Description: We will start the day heading to GA 301 south to look for the Ruellia noctiflora and we likely will see Michaux’s milkweed (Asclepias michauxii) at this location as well.  After that we will return to US 82 in search of Sabatia foliosa and then continue with other roadside stops along 82 until lunch time:  Plants we should see on this day include yellow meadow beauty (Rhexia lutea), snowy orchid and Bartram’s rose gentian, few-flowered milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata), and others. 

Directions: same as the July 11, just starting much earlier.

July 15, 2017, Plumleaf Azalea, Providence Canyon, Stewart County

Posted under: South Georgia.

Providence Canyon

Meet:  10:00 AM, Visitor Center, Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area, 8930 Canyon Rd., Lumpkin, GA 31815.

Description:  Providence Canyon is a famous Georgia landmark, consisting of a network of erosion gullies formed when agricultural practices, such as plowing up and down slopes, destroyed the hardened clay cap above the deep sand layers below.  Although this sounds ugly, the exposed sandy layers come in all colors and at the bottom of the canyon are seeps lined with the red-orange, summer-blooming, plumleaf azalea (Rhododendron prunifolium).  From the  bottom of the canyon flows a creek with hardwood ravines reminiscent of coves in the mountains, while the crest of the canyon has drier habitats with typical sandhill species.  The azalea display is a botanical wonder and usually begins about mid-July.

Location:  Providence Canyon is about miles south of Columbus and s northwest out of Lumpkin.  From US Hwy. 27 in Lumpkin, take GA Hwy. 37 Connector west for ca. 7.5 mi. to the park’s Visitor Center, pass the picnic area and look for access road to left.

Walking:  We will look at interpretive info in the Visitor Center, then hike the 3-mile loop trail (White Trail) into the canyon, up various fingers of the canyon.  Trail may be muddy; anticipate creeks and seeps to be ankle deep, very cool and pleasant!

Facilities:  Full facilities at Visitor Center. 

BringOld sneakers to hike in seeps; pack lunch or snacks for hike; tick and insect repellent.

Leader:  Tom Patrick (706) 476-4541,