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Rocktown – Hiking on Pigeon Mountain

by JP on Mar.21, 2010, under Georgia Hiking Trails, Rock Climbing

Lafayette, Georgia

Distance: 1.0 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Blaze: Brownish Pink

Pigeon Mountain

Just outside of Lafayette, Georgia is a little known wildlife management area known as Crockford-Pigeon Mountain. Pigeon Mountain extends along the northwestern corner of Georgia crossing over into Alabama. The wildlife management area itself is packed with numerous miles of trails that are difficult to find. Most of the area is open to horseback riders, mountain bikers, and rock climbers.

The exception to this, is the area we recently visited, known as Rocktown. Rocktown is a day use only area for hikers and rock climbers. The area is known by most rock climbers in the south for its unique sandstone formations, and numerous climbing routes available for beginners and experts alike.


The most unique aspect of Rocktown’s geological formations are the sandstone hoodoos that dot the mountain top plateau. Hoodoos are tall thin spires of rock protruding out of the ground, and appear to be unconnected to any larger rock formations. There are several of these hidden among the bluffs and boulders of Rocktown, each of varying shape and height.

Rocktown

Rocktown Rocktown

The trail to the Rocktown village is easier to hike than the drive up to it. Once atop Pigeon Mountain, the ugly brownish pink blazes bring hikers along an almost entirely flat one mile trail.

As hikers leave the parking area, the trail immediately crosses a bridge, and an old building foundation to the right. After this, the trail makes a very gradual climb along the sandy trail. Not long after the trail tops the small hill, one of several forks appear. Rocktown is covered in these trails that carry climbers out to numerous boulders that are scattered throughout the area.  If one keeps left at the first fork, and follows the pink blazes, the major rock village area appears.

Rocktown

The first real signs of the major climbing area are two large bluffs that appear to surround both sides of the trail. A large boulder ceiling hovers over the trail in the area. Just past this point, the trail really ends, and hikers are left to explore and scramble around the hundreds of different rock formations in the area. Climbers could easily spend days exploring the sandstone formations, and still miss some of them. One of the most photographed formations in the area seems to be the Champagne Flute Hoodoo (larger Picture Above). While it is more fun to simply stumble around the area until its found, its GPS location is marked in the trail map below.

Rocktown

Even if rock climbing is not your thing, the top of most of these bluffs can be accessed with some simply scurrying somewhere.  On the last day we visited, we didn’t do any real rock climbing, but were able to access several very tall bluffs to look off. Just be careful with the crevices that often cut these rocks in half. It would be easy to misjudge a leap over one, and suffer severe injuries. Of course, one could always go the other way, and explore under these crevices, just look out for snakes, spiders, and other wildlife. I recently read about one climber who scared a bobcat in one of the rock’s holes.

Rocktown Rocktown

Rocktown RocktownRocktown

Rocktown is one of only a handful of places to explore on Pigeon Mountain. We plan to explore it all in the upcoming months, and leave details about other, lesser known trails.

Hood Overlook

It should be noted, that one of the best views in the area, can be had approximately two miles away from the Rocktown parking area. The Hood Overlook (pictured at top of article) provides an open view of the towns of Lafayette, Trion, Summerville, and even Johns Mountain and Taylor’s Ridge in the distance.

Hood Overlook
<br /> <a href=”http://www.trailguru.com/wiki/index.php/Track:BTOI” mce_href=”http://www.trailguru.com/wiki/index.php/Track:BTOI”>Rocktown Trail – Pigeon Mountain (Hiking) | Gadsden, AL 35901, USA</a><br />

Directions From Downtown Lafayette, Georgia:

VEHICLES WITH HIGH CLEARANCE ARE RECOMMENDED

1. Turn onto Highway 193 and follow for 2.7 miles.

2. Turn left onto Chamberlain Road (a brown sign with an arrow indicates this is the direction to Crockford-Pigeon Mountain WMA).

3. Turn right in 3.3 miles onto a gravel road, marked with the entrance sign.

4. Pass the Visitor’s Center, and follow the gravel road up Pigeon Mountain. Follow the road over a series of switchbacks, until there a a junction with a brown sign.

5. To the left is the Hood Overlook. Turn right towards Rocktown Junction.

6. In 1.3 miles, turn left on a dirt road marked with a Dead End sign. This road ends at the parking area (really a muddy cul-de-sac) for Rocktown. The trail is on the right corner of the parking area.

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My Photo in the Florida State Parks Contest

by JP on Mar.11, 2010, under Florida Outdoor Travel, Hiking Trails

I have recently been added to the Florida State Parks March Photo Contest for a Beach Photo I took a while back at Bahia Honda State Park.

The photo is found here. If you like it, vote for me. It is called “Water.”

Florida State Parks Contest

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St. Joseph, MO – Where the Pony Express Begins and Jesse James Ends

by JP on Mar.11, 2010, under Day 3

St. Joseph, MO (9)

On Day 3 of our road trip we finally ran into some real cowboy and bandit history, and lots of it, in the town of St. Joseph, Missouri. For those who don’t know, St. Joseph was the starting place of the Pony Express, the site of Jesse James’ death, and the home of the famous Patee House.

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On our way into town, I had found on Roadside America a small, funny attraction. The tombstone of Prince Eric of Sunbeam located at the American Angus Association. Prince Eric was an angus bull named bull of the century in the early part of the 1900’s. This bull was used to stud thousands of other cows, and is likely a small part of the DNA of every angus burger you ever eat. Along with the tombstone is a time capsule buried to commemorate the coming of angus beef to America.

St. Joseph, MO (6)

As we arrived in downtown St. Joseph, we were really impressed by how the town itself felt so green and historic. On the main road is a large open park.  The park sits below a steep hill will several very old homes overlooking it. On the other side it neighbors with the Old courthouse. This small park made for a nice morning stroll. The large Pony Express Monument, and several Veterans Memorials lie spread out across the park. It really is a nice looking town.

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St. Joseph, MO (21)

Pony Express Museum

St. Joseph, MO (25)

The Pony Express Museum is believed to be located on the original location where riders began their long journey across the West. The museum is an interactive museum great for children and adults alike. Although small, it contains models of the riders, and numerous artifacts from the riders, their packages, and the business of the Pony Express. This is a great place to start a history tour of the West as numerous riders that began here gained fame later in life for all sorts of other reasons, among which was Buffalo Bill Cody, whose home we will be visiting later. My favorite exhibit was the long diorama showing the conditions the riders faced on the long journey from Missouri to the Pacific Coast.

Jesse James House

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Jesse James St. Joseph, MO (108)

After leaving the Pony Express, we visited the home where Jesse James is widely believed to have been killed by Charles Ford. The home has been moved beside the Patee House from its original location just up the hill, but contains numerous artifacts from James’ life and death, including a hole where the bullet is said to have lodged after leaving Jesse’s head. The museum is very small, consisting of only four rooms, but it is filled with numerous pieces of furniture, weaponry, and other memorabila from Jesse James’ life. In addition the museum attempts to describe facts about the historical debate on whether James actually faked his death in the house.

Patee House Museum

St. Joseph, MO (115)

The Patee House was not something we had heard of prior to arriving in St. Joseph, but numerous people in town had told us we needed to stop by and see it. The House was well worth a visit. Come to find out, it is featured in 1000  Places to See Before you Die, USA/Canada Edition, and is one of the top 10 best Western Museums in the country, and I can see why it is simply a fun museum to enter.

The House itself is a four story brick building, with a varied history. It was built in 1858 as a luxury hotel by John Patee, in 1861 it became the business office for the Pony Express, an military office during the civil war, a courtroom, a women’s college, a shirt factory, and a home . Its functions are only outnumbered by the random assortment of exhibits inside. The Museum houses just about every object one could imagine. The Museum contains artifacts spanning from the Pony Express until the 1970’s. Included in the Museum are pieces of furniture covering 150 years of American history, a portrait gallery of famous western cowboys located in the ball room, a miniature town of old businesses (including Walter Cronkite’s grandfather’s dentist office), a working saloon (soda shop), a working carousel, a full size locomotive and relocated rail depot, over 100 rooms with exhibits from children’s toys to model trains to telecommunications, and a 1050 pound ball of twine. Museum’s assortment of stuff is entertaining in itself, but ask about the scavenger hunt for a little extra fun. If you find all the items, the museum will make you a stock owner in its railroad.

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After leaving the Patee House, we left St. Joseph for Kansas and Nebraska. It was still early morning, and we had already experienced a lot. Up next, we were heading to the geographic center of the 48 states, Lebanon, Kansas.

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