Hikes with the Sonny Day Hikers

This group hikes most Wednesdays to a variety of places, generally in Georgia north of Atlanta.  I have included some pictures to show the variety of trails and scenery.  Quite often the trails are nice enough, but not presenting any good photo ops.  Were I out by myself, I might make the effort to find something to shoot, but this group is more about hiking than photography.  Also, I usually only carry one lens, so I sometimes guess wrong and can’t take the pictures that are available.

Dockery Lake to Miller Gap, June 2020

One of the few hikes this year due to the epidemic, but this was a really good outing.  Cool-ish temp, not much sun and a great group.  The trail has become slightly overgrown in spots due to lack of use. The result is an unusually lush forest.  With the recent rains, there were a bunch ofl water crossings, though none too difficult.

Pine Log Creek, December 2019

My third time on this trail this fall, but still a great hike.  The weather was good and the company great.  We did it widdershins rather than clockwise, and I think that is the harder route.  The light at the quarry was interesting, so the pictures are a little different from previous hikes.

The “frog rock” in the quarry
Reflections in the quarry

Long Creek Falls and the AT, September 2019

An exploratory hike by the Sonny Day Hikers turned out to be a very nice hike. The original intent was to turn around at the top of Deadennen Mtn, but most of the group chose not to go that far. The climb of Wilscot Mtn was enough. The distance from there to Deadennen Mtn is not that great, but it is a steep down/up and then reverse on the return. The trail itself is quite smooth and easy to walk.

More late wildflowers and mushrooms found again. And I played more with ICM photography.

East of Hogpen Gap, August 2019

In mid-August 2019 the we did an exploratory hike on a bit of trail none of us had ever hiked before, and now we wonder why not. The trail is a relatively flat section of the AT, at least the 2.3 miles or so we traveled before turning back. A very pleasant, not overly difficult hike

Surprisingly, we found a variety of wild flowers blooming. Most notable was three separate clumps of Turk’s Cap Lilys (Lilium superbum) if you wan the Latin name.) According to our resident expert, these are rare in Georgia but more common further north.

East of Wilsccot Gap on the Benton-MacKaye Trail, August 2019

An exploratory hike by the Sonny Day Hikers turned out to be a very nice hike. The original intent was to turn around at the top of Deadennen Mtn, but most of the group chose not to go that far. The climb of Wilscot Mtn was enough. The distance from there to Deadennen Mtn is not that great, but it is a steep down/up and then reverse on the return. The trail itself is quite smooth and easy to walk.

More late wildflowers and mushrooms found again. And I played more with ICM photography.

Yonah Preserve Trails, Dec 2018:  This is a relatively new place to hike, having opened only a year or so ago in White county just outside Cleveland, GA.  Two trails are open with more under developement, including an ADA accessible trail.   Good fungus opportunities.

Black Rock Mountain State Park, Nov 2018:  This was our “fall fling” overnight outing.  The weather was rain or fog on the mountain the whole time, but Black Rock Lake was below the clouds.  So I spent the first afternoon at the lake.  The view from the overlooks varied but were generally socked in.  Still I did get a couple breaks in the clouds.  Other than that, it was all trees in the fog.

Chicopee Woods, August 2018:  A whole lot of fungus on these trails also.

Smith Creek Trail, July 2018:  An interesting hike, what with a number of deadfalls and lots of mushrooms to photograph.  I am very glad we did this from Ana-Ruby Falls down rather than from the Unicoi campground up.  Going down was bad enough.

Fall Fling, October 2017:  A number of us spent a couple nights at Vogel State Park in far north Georgia hiking, eating and generally having a great time.  Our long hike was the Jarrad Gap trail, part of the Appalachian trail to the top of Blood Mountain, and the down the Slaughter Creek trail, a distance of something over 8.5 miles.  We also did a number of turns around Lake Trahlyta, but that’s only a mile or so.

I shot the sunrises, but only the first was really any good.  The first time around the lake on the first afternoon showed good color, but the last time around just before leaving was spectacular.  Buck and I stopped frequently to admire the view and decide a composition.  My thanks to Buck for some pictures I would not have see otherwise.

The first few pictures are from Dick’s Creek near Turner’s Crossroads.  Its on my way, so I left early and took time to look for reflections in the creek below the falls.  Some success there, but not as much as hoped for.

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Wildcat Trail in Dawson Forest (May 2017):  We ventured in search of blooming ladyslippers.  While the trail and hike were fun, we found only five blooming ladyslippers, and three of those were well past their prime.  I did most of the pictures in reverse order, hiking out stopping along the way back to take pictures.

Ladyslipper bloom
A view of the creek, with a rope for crossing
Hikers admiring mountain laurel in bloom
Reflections in Wildcat Creek

Panther Creek Falls(June 2017):   A hike on one of the prettiest trails in North Georgia.  We took the right fork at one point, and so we ended up having to climb the “root ladder.”   Despite that challenge, everyone made it to the falls and back safely.

We were there midday, the sun was high and bright, and so getting pictures of the falls without blowing the highlights was a challenge of both exposure and development.

The “Root Ladder”


A more pleasant part of the trail
A view of Panther Creek Falls


Starting the climb leaving the bottom of the falls

Spring Fling at Cloudland Canyon State Park (October 2016):  600 steps each way to/from the canyon floor.  A great time overall: good weather, good hiking, good food, good friends.

View from the top of Lookout Mountain at Lula Lake Land Trust.
Aperture: 8
Camera: NIKON D7100
Iso: 100
Orientation: 1
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Black Rock Mountain State Park (May 2016 after the overnight trip):  Just a nice shortish walk in a cool place.  Pictures of Indian Cucumber, trillium, a hawk and the group photo.

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Overnight to Tims Ford, Tulahoma, TN (May 2016):  A group of eight traveled there, stayed in cabins and did a couple good hikes (one of 3 miles and one of 10 miles).  We also played games, talked and ate a lot.




Birch Creek approach to the Conasauga River Trail (May 4, 2016):  A small group tackled what turned out to be a difficult hike.  Not long at just 3 miles, but down rather steeply all the way out and up the same slope coming back.  Plus, this trail-head is a LONG drive for us and both cars ended up lost at some point.  But we persevered and it was a good day.

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Blood Mountain from Neels Gap (March 30, 2016):  A large (9 people) group on a nice, breezy day.  Not a great deal of scenery, but some.  Passed quite a few through hikers on the AT.  All were concerned about a storm due to hit the following evening.  Wasn’t the greatest day for pictures at the summit due to haze.  The black and white picture is better than the color picture IMHO.

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Tallulah Gorge State Park (December 2015):  A small group on a relatively cold, windy day.  We did all 1106 steps (half down, half up).  I got a couple good shots at the bottom, but most are from various overlooks above the gorge.  Had to use bracketed shots and HDR processing to get decent results.  Good lesson learned about midday shooting.

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Broad River Trail (December 9, 2015):  A nice, if somewhat longish, hike along one oft the several Dick’s Creeks and the North fork of the Broad River.  Some of us missed a blaze and became befuddled for 30-40 minutes before regaining the trail.  The trail is narrow, but the footing is good.  Most of the trail is far above the water.  Only in one place did we get down to the river in a position to take a shot.

Hickory Creek Trail (Nov 11, 2015):  An approach trail to the Conasauga River Trail.  We intended to go further, but the creek was just high enough that none of us wanted to ford it.  Looks like a good hike for a  hot summer day when wading in cold water will feel good.

Panther Creek Falls from the east end, the far less traveled path in May 2015.  Rather than start on the west end, where almost everyone does, we drove northeast of Toccoa to the east end of the trail, nearly in South Carolina.  The trail starts out nicely enough as a relatively level path through a nice woodland.  However, things change.  There are a number of large deadfalls, the trail becomes not so obvious and on the edge for a quarter to half a mile or so.  The others turned back, but Nancy Mitchell and I pressed on and eventually arrived at the falls.  I don’t think this is the main falls that is reached from the west, but it is a nice falls.    As you’ll see, it was a bright, sunny day, so I had to work to get the pictures.

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Bear Hair Gap trail and Sosebee Cove nature trail (April 8, 2015):  Hiking with the Sonny Day Hikers, but without Sonny himself.  Set out to hike the Bear Hair Gap trail, and we did.  But we also missed a turn and did a bit (a mile or so alltold) of the Coosa backcountry trail.  After that we drove to the nearby Sosebee Cove nature trail. The last two pictures are from the nature trail.  Not much was blooming, but the mayapples and showy orchis are growing abundantly.  Lots of other stuff I could not identify also.  We’ll return there in a couple of weeks. Bear Hair Gap trail is a good climb, then a flat, then a steep descent.  Many small waterfalls on the hillsides, but most of them are not accessible for pictures.

Little Mulberry Park, Dacula, GA.  We did this after a layoff due to inclement weather.  The trails here are paved, so that would not be a problem.  We hiked on a drizzly morning, which is how I got the shot of the island in the mist (see the sunrise section under Galleries.)  The middle part (as we did it) is on a relatively bald hill.   The lower parts are much more picturesque and much flatter.

Miller Trek in Brasstown Valley Resort.  This one was the first one for Sonny after some time off.  The trail stars uphill, then around the hill and back down the other side for a total of around six miles.  A nice hike, but no good views from the high points.  The trail begins and ends in a resort, so there are great facilities, not something we always have.

Keown Falls and Johns Moutain (April 2015):  This is a nice hike although quite a drive to get there.  The group from Cumming was late arriving, so we hiked the first part clockwise, which turned out to be the wrong way.  The first part of this is (or was anyway) through a field of poison ivy, so be warned.    You do climb some up a rocky trail, but it is worth the effort.  Keown Falls is very nice, and you can walk behind it.  There is another falls to the west, which we passed on the way back after going around the Johns mtn loop.  We all did that top loop clockwise, and it is a very nice hike.  On the east end is a very nice overlook with broad vistas and good signage.  The western part is a very nice, relatively flat woodland stroll.  But getting down from Keown Falls going clockwise is a rougher trail with many rocky steps to traverse.

Fall Creek Trail in Dawson Forest.  This is a long hard hike.  We did it west to east with no loop (leaving a car at the east end before we began), and that was 6.5 to 7 miles.  The  trail starts as Tobacco Pouch trail or a roadbed, but then branches off to the north, going up and down the sides of a number of rather steep ravines.  I saw multiple waterfalls, but the vegitation was too thick and the hills were too steep to get to a good vantage point.  Once you get down out of the ravines, there is a side trail to the biggest falls, and that is very pretty, worth the hike.  From that point there is a flatish section ending at a ford.  There was a rope across the stream at that point, and you need it since the current is strong and the rocky bottom slippery.  Past the ford, the trail climbs steeply to join the Wildcat trail back to the campground on the east end.

Cherokee Loop at Stone Mountain.  We did this from the Decatur visitor center, following the greenway to the backside of Stone Mountain, then around to the east past the grist mill, then below the carving and back toward the west.  So far it is relatively flat.  But then we decided to cut across the end of then end of the rock.  That was a steep climb up wet granite and an equally steep way down the other side.  Don’t try it unless you’re in good shape and willing to scramble some.  Blazes are painted on the rock, but they’re not always easy to find.  All told, this was about 6.5 miles.

Lake Conasauga Trail (October 2014):  A long drive but a nice lake and a nice hike.  Had to change a flat tire on Nancy’s car on the way home.