Monday, May 30, 2016, (Memorial Day) 10:00 AM, Reed Branch Wet Meadow Preserve, Towns County

Posted under: Northeast Georgia.

Field Trip Leaders:  Hal Massie and Rich Reaves

Description: Reed Branch Wet Meadow is a Nature Conservancy Preserve that protects the only natural population of Federally Endangered green pitcher plant, Sarracenia oreophila in Georgia.  It is also the last example in Georgia of a low mountain bog.  Besides pitcher plants, Reed Branch is host to numerous plants normally associated with the coastal plain, such as colic root (Aletris farinosa) and sundew (Drosera sp.), among others. If we are lucky, we will find a beautiful, if ghostly, orchid – ragged fringed orchid, Platanthera lacera.  The preserve encompasses 8 acres, with the green pitcher plants concentrated into about 1 acre of the property.

Location and Directions: Reed Branch is between Hiawassee and the North Carolina state line. Take US 76 to Hiawassee from either the west or east.  In Hiawassee, turn north on GA 75 and go approximately 3 miles to Mull Rd., which will be on the left.  If you see a sign that says ‘Welcome to North Carolina’, you have gone too far.  Almost immediately after turning left onto Mull Road, there will be a parking area on the left just behind a gate.

Meet at:  The Reed Branch Wet Meadow Preserve on Mull Road.

Bathroom Facilities: There are no facilities at the Reed Branch preserve.  Last facilities are in Hiawassee.

Walking Difficulty:   This will be a very easy walk.  The preserve is only slightly sloped toward Lake Chatuge.  The upper portion of the Preserve may require that we walk through a very narrow trail in dense vegetation. It will be important to stay in single file and be careful where you step.  Reed Branch is not open to the public and we have special permission for this trip. This is a very sensitive area – please follow the guidance of the trip leaders and obey all restrictions. 

Lunch:  Bring to eat at the vehicles, or plan to eat in Hiawassee after the field trip.

Bring:  Camera, hat (nearly the entire preserve is in the open), hand lens, sunny disposition.

Contact:  Hal Massie,  478-957-6095 (cell will be on the morning of the hike,  Rich Reaves,


Saturday, 4 June 2016 – Lake Winfield Scott Fungal Foray, Union County

Posted under: North Georgia.

Trip Leader:  Bill Sheehan

Description:  This is an easy to moderate walk with some easy off-trail walking in and about Lake Winfield Scott National Recreation Area.  We will be looking for fleshy mushrooms and any other fungi we come across, both large and small.  Our emphasis will be on diversity and ecology. We have permission to collect one or two samples of what we find, which we will bring back to a central location, spread out, and review at the end.  Fungi are the primary decay organisms that cycle plants back into plants; they’re critical enablers of plant nutrition through roots; and they can be parasites or predators of plants as well.  With perhaps 4,000 species of fungi (not to mention slime molds) in the Georgia mountains, we’ll have lots to work with!  For botanists, come learn about “the rest of the story…”
Directions:  From Atlanta, take GA 400 north for about 60 miles, until it ends just south of Dahlonega.  Turn left there onto Ga Hwy 60 and take GA 60 toward and around Dahlonega.  Continue for about 15 miles on Hwy 60, heading toward Suches through the National Forest.  You will drive through Stone Pile Gap, bearing to the left at the pile of rocks to stay on GA 60. Continue uphill, crossing Woody Gap, then going downhill, passing Woody Lake on the right.  Shortly after the lake, watch for Ga Hwy 180 on the right (there is a service station/convenience store at that corner).  Turn right on Hwy 180 and go for about 4.5 miles.  Turn right into Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area, stop to pay the $5 entrance fee, then continue to the parking area above the lake.

Meet At:  Park in the parking lot above Lake Winfield Scott bath house and walk back downhill to meet at the trailhead by 10:00 AM.

Facilities:  At the convenience store and at the bathhouse on the lake near the meeting site.

Walking:  Mostly easy to moderate, slow, poking about in the woods. Total distance about 1.5 miles, about 4 hours.

Lunch:  Bring to eat on trail.

Bring:  Five dollars per vehicle for entrance fee to Lake Winfield Scott (less with federal senior pass), sturdy shoes for walking, rain gear (you never know!), lunch, extra water.  A hand lens and small basket would be useful.

Contact:  Bill Sheehan,, 706-247-2500


Sunday, June 5, 2016, Chestatee River Canoe Float & Late Spring Flora, Lumpkin County

Posted under: Canoe Trips; North Georgia.

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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.

Please contact Jerry Hightower at 404-953-9331 or if you are planning on joining this trip.