Day 77: National Geographic Worthy


time of year

James H “Sloppy” Floyd State Park, Summerville, GA. This is a great spot for a picnic with 2 beautiful lakes and plenty of tables spread about. We chose the Marble Mine Trail (2 mile loop, 377’ elevation) to the park’s most unique feature, the Marble Mine. Spring and winter rainfall create a small 35-foot waterfall over the marble outcropping. There were icicles hanging from the rocks and railings. We walked back through their “back country camping” and along the Upper Lake Trail.


difficulty: 3

Pisgah Gorge Falls, Pisgah, AL. (1.5 mile out and back, 298’ elevation). A hidden gem! Two very nice waterfalls and some great views of Pisgah Gorge. Park in Pisgah Citivan Park. There’s a viewing platform for the Upper Falls. From there you can go left to the top of Upper Falls or right to go to Lower Falls. At a small wooden foot bridge, turn left to decend into the gorge down a boulder scramble. You can also go past the footbridge to a good viewing location for looking down at lower falls, and a little further on to another great view looking west over the gorge and the convergence of the creeks. Caution on these last two: it is a couple hundred feet straight down from the rocky outcrops to the canyon floor.


difficulty: 2.5

Time to check into Quality Inn, Scottsboro, AL.

Price: $77/night.

Rock Zoo, Fackler, AL was just a few miles away so we went to check it out. It’s a roadside collection of rocks that have been painted to resemble animals. Some of them are pretty good. I loved the farm setting, the cows across the road eating the old corn stems and the mountains beyond.

One of the ways we find some of the most unique places to visit is by going somewhere and then looking at google maps for anything nearby that might also be interesting. Neversink Preserve, which hadn’t shown up on our map earlier, was a mere 0.7 of a mile away. Neversink is 162’ deep open-air cave (16 stories deep) with waterfalls. You need a permit from Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi) to enter (and impressive cave rappelling skills). Entry without a permit is trespassing. Permits can be requested online at no cost here: The trail is about a mile and is fairly steep with some interesting rock formations. The cave and waterfall are stunning.

It’s arguably the most photographed pit in TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia) due to the lush, fern-covered ledges, waterfalls, and other spectacular features. It is considered by many to be the classic pit, and has been featured in countless publications, including National Ceographic.

The Neversink preserve is home to many beautiful, rare, and interesting creatures. Both surface species and cave-adapted species play important roles in the cave’s ecosystem. Each year, nutrients enter the cave system (i.e. rain, fallen leaves, debris, faunal remains, guano, etc.) aided by a perennial water source that contributes to a seasonal cycle of energy that moves into and throughout the cave. These nutrients allow organisms within the cave, without access to sunlight, to live and reproduce. During the rainy season, a stream forms in the bottom of the cave and aquatic species flourish. Cave spring crayfish (Cambarus tenebrosus) return to the stream from their deep burrows and begin feeding on the bioload built up over the dry season.

The surface life of the preserve is just as interesting. From the top of the pit, one may notice eastern phoebes darting to their nests in the jagged rock walls. In autumn, bats can be seen swarming at the entrance at dusk when they awake to feast on insects.


difficulty: 5

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