South Peachtree Creek Nature Preserve

March 20, 2004

One day when driving through the parking lot of an Atlanta mall, I noticed an area behind the mall where there seemed to be no houses!  So I drove around it to find out why and I found -- The South Peachtree Creek Nature Preserve! Check out their web site for a great introduction to this wonderful place:

My first trip to the Preserve was today as Spring is just getting started. It has not quite reached the Preserve yet.  However, as I toured the trails, there was an air of expectancy that Spring is just waiting to bust out all over.

Join me now for my first stroll through parts of the preserve....

David Belcher, Photographer

Click on a photo to see a larger version

Welcome to the South Peachtree Creek Nature Preserve

I started out on the Beaver Pond Trail. The Preserve's web site has maps on site which show the trails with names and everything.

Beaver Pond Trail is well maintained and has a great wood-chip walking surface.  The Trail started out in the sunshine ...

but quickly switched to a cathedral aspect with the trees meeting overhead.  When the leaves all come in as Spring progresses, this will be a very spiritual walk.  It's nice now - downright spiritual later!

The first sign of Spring was these two beauties who were showing off at the side of the trail.

Encouraged by the bloomers in the previous picture, I looked closely at these bare branches and saw buds straining to break loose.  Spring's a commin'

I like the wood-chip surface of the trail with the log borders. It makes for a comfortable feeling

Well, there's more than just "comfortable" here -- as the trail turns around the corners, there is an air of excitement about what might be revealed next.

And what is revealed next is -- More Trail!

And Even More Trail! But the trail splits here.  The left fork leads to a raised observation platform.  (No pics this time - wait for the next installment)  Straight ahead leads to....

The start of the Boardwalk.  And a hint about the reason this is named the Beaver Pond Trail.

Yep! It's a beaver pond, alright.  About 4 acres of wild lands, swamp, and pond.

The Beaver Pond was temporarily re-named the Egret Pond. I didn't know these birds are so big! The pond also presented two geese, a small flock of ducks (one nicely colored). Bees and fat tadpoles were in abundance but only the egret was un-bashful enough to pose for the camera.

The boardwalk runs along one side of the pond and provides great views from many directions.

There's a beaver dam to the left of that bamboo forest. Didn't see the dam beaver.

Just think what this view will be when the brown of Winter turns to the lush green of Spring....

In the larger view of this picture (remember to click the photo to see the larger version) you can see bird nest boxes set out in the water.  Lots of these around the Preserve.

Here's the close-up photo of the beaver's dam. Well, not real close but ya know, the beavers have a right to their privacy, too.

Another view of the Pond with the egret still posing.  Must have thought I was a talent scout from the "Amazing Animal Videos" TV program!

Nice boardwalk. Someone put a lot of work into the design, construction, and maintenance of this structure.

And here is why the boardwalk is so important. The edge of the pond is a swamp! Complete with MUD! Without the boardwalk it would take only 3 or 4 people walking through here to stir things up too much for anyone else to make it through.  Then there goes the environment....

And speaking of MUD, this part of the boardwalk was covered with tracks like these. What animal has these feet?  I guessed raccoon until I looked them up on the web.  Coons have nails that show on the tracks like dogs do.  So I thought it might be a big cat but the toes are too long ( For scale, the board is about 5 1/2 inches wide.

This high-class board-walk comes equipped with a board-seat!

But eventually even a boardwalk ends and we are back to the trail. No more wood-chips.  We have the more natural leaves and pine needles (and dirt!)

This sign says "Please stay in the trails". But...

it's hard to stay in the designated trails when there are so many intriguing pathways through every part of this Preserve.

Back again on the designated trail. Looks a lot like strolling through the woods with no trail at all! Wonderful!  The work that people have done here is great!

See what I mean?

Here's another swampy section with it's own little boardwalk.  Not really swampy today but I can tell that after a rain, the tadpoles will just love it here

There is even a classroom built into the Preserve. I don't know yet what kind of classes are held here but I know that the next time I'm here, I'll spend 30 minutes lying on a bench with eyes closed -- just listening to the world being alive.

The classroom is at a break in the elevation with swamp on one side and the pine forest on the other.  Here the trail changes to the Pine Trail.

It's a young pine forest -- no towering forest giants here. I'd like to keep an eye on some of these youngsters for another 80 to 100 years to see which ones become the towering forest giants.

This great nature preserve has nature on both sides of the trail here.

Here's a short side trip on Creek Trail.  Wonder where it goes....

I should have known. It goes to the Creek!  This is the source for the Beaver Pond. 

It's carrying a good bit of water today even though it's not rained here lately.  Must be wild during a thunderstorm!

Nice rock & sand beaches but probably not good for swimming and wading

It is, after all, a city creek and carries all the trash and stuff that get washed off the streets every time we have a big rain.

OK, back to the Pine Trail. And a little further down the trail, we come to the Meadow Trail intersection. I didn't explore the Meadow today - will save that for another day.

Home Sweet Home? I wonder who lives under here....

Now we move onto the Forest Trail.  Trees change from all pines to mixed hardwoods.  Heading for the rocks now.

Indian Rock is a dramatic rise above surrounding ground level -- so much that it gets its own little trail up the side.

Can you see the Indian head hiding in the tree limbs?

Here's the view from the top

Continuing on down the Forest Trail

Good signs in this Preserve

Raccoon Rock is not as dramatic as the Indian Rock but it does have it's own stone trail to the top.  Wonder if it dreams of someday being Decatur's own Stone Mountain.

The Forest Trail goes up...

and the Forest Trail goes down.

See, I told you this is a spiritual place....

There are some very large Sweet Gum and Oak trees here.  The trail and the trees fit well together

There are even a couple of  large American Beech trees. This species has two distinguishing characteristics - smooth white bark and initials carved into it.

Looking downhill from the Forest Trail you can view the start of the swamp the borders the beaver pond.

End of the trail. Heading back to the entrance,

There is a kiosk here to let people know what a wonderful place this is.

Here are instructions about what to do and what not to do.

This trail sign shows where we came from

A photo collection on the kiosk shows what everyone else did while here.  Lots of people in these photos but I only saw one couple here today.  But then, Spring is young and I'm eagerly awaiting the experience of watching the seasons turn in this wonderful ....

South Peachtree Creek Nature Preserve

Join me here next time????