Sunday, November 15, 2020

More Little River WMA

Again, I'm not sure if this is _technically_ part of the old Little River WMA or not, but in my mind it is, so that's what I'm going with.

The part that I didn't explore last weekend has sections called "Entering Bromance"/"I Banged Your Mom Last Night" and sometimes gets nebulously referrred to as "Everest". Too intrigued to leave it be, I was back up there today. Last week, one of my friends was like "next time call me and I'll show you around" and it was only this morning that I realized that I don't have his contact info. No email. No phone number. No @instafacetwitterverse. Nothing. And then it dawned on my as I was driving up there (far too late) that I could have @-commented on my previous Strava post and asked him to email that crap to me, and he would have gotten that.

This is the level of intelligence that I'm working with here.

Chris, sorry man. I didn't specifically mean to put you off. I'm just not that bright at times.

At any rate though, I returned to the old Little River WMA-ish area again today, and continued looking around.

In the vicinity of the Newsome Borrow Pit, I "found" 2 abandoned houses, in the sense that I knew were they ought to be based on other people's Strava posts, had seen the road leading over to that area the previous week, and just followed it down to the houses.

Abandoned House 1 Abandoned House 2 Abandoned House 2 Deck Abandoned House 2 Pool

I didn't go inside, because alone and scary, but they were interesting from the outside.

Similarly interesting was a uhaul van parked at the top of one of the driveways, with some dude just chilling in it with the engine on. He seemed to be reading some set of papers and waved to me as I waved to him. MORE interesting was a black Toyota parked at the top of the other driveway with no one in it. EVEN MORE interesting was that, from the second house, I could see a guy walking out of the woods in full camo with a bow towards the first house. It is archery season until like the middle of January. That's a pretty good spot!

I rode down to the creek and followed some semi-obvious trails until I ended up on a sewer line, then followed that all the way to Towne Lake Parkway. About halfway out, I ran into 3 girls crossing a little stream, trying super hard not to get their shoes wet. Each of them had a part of a deer skeleton on the end of a stick - 2 skulls and a vertebra. They were pround of their finds and very excited to tell me where they'd been exploring, and how they found them, and all kinds of details. We were all at the intersection of 2 sewer lines, and they were a little confused about how which way to go, so I told them where each of them probably went, and that helped them figure it out. Still, they didn't seem too confident. I continued down the trail, and not a minute later ran into 3 more adults and 3 more kids. Turned out the girls were part of their group, and they'd just talked to them on the phone. Great! Nobody was lost.

I saw enough mylar balloons today to make up for not having seen many earlier this year.

Mylar Balloon

Soooo many balloons.

On the other side of Towne Lake Parkway the trail continued for a while, but eventually I'd have had to cross the creek to keep going, and screw that. It was like 10 feet down to the creek and 10 feet back up on the other side, and it was sketchier than I felt like going for at the time. I'll have to come at it from the other side someday.

Heading back north, I kind of enjoyed the scenery more than I had heading south.

Cool rocks.

Bromance Rocks

The creek was nice.

Noonday Creek

Though, it apparently floods pretty high, at times, as evidenced by the remains of a telephone pole, well above my head.

Telephone Pole Junk

I hit every little spur on the way back, and found an abandoned car off of one of them.

Abanodoned Car Abandoned Car Engine

Kind-of near someone's backyard actually, but I bet it was dumped there a long time before there were houses.

I took a different route a few times on the way back. There were 2 bits of trail with alternate lines. One had a pretty damn steep descent down to a creek. Everest perhaps? In the other direction? Heh. I managed to descend the two steepest bits out there today.


I also managed to get back to the car at a decent hour. No feaking out parents and kids this time.

Man, fall is in full swing in the ATL metro right now. Just look at that Cypress.

Fall Cypress

Dinner, again, was that same amazing chicken sandwich at Canyon. Mmm, hmmm.

I kind-of know my way around now, but there are definitely a few trails I haven't ridden, and a few that I have, but lost the GPS data for. So, I'll be back again, I'm sure. Maybe I'll remember to get a hold of Chris next time too.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Little River WMA

The whole Blanket's Creek - Old Rope Mill area was once part of the Little River WMA. I'm not exactly sure how far it used to extend, and I haven't gone looking for maps of it, but the ArcGIS topo quads still show it, and I'm sure older quads of the area do too. Part of it was on Army Corps land, and part was owned by the city/county/state. Eventually the DNR gave up the WMA and whoever owned it started building neighborhoods. If you go exploring around Toonigh Creek Falls, you can find an old I-beam and wire gate, as well as some old signage.

With the covids keeping everyone at home these days, some buddies of mine started exploring some of the lands south of Olde Rope Mill, rather than riding all over creation, as they were previously wont to do. I'm guessing that this stuff used to be part of that WMA. Hard to say without more research, but that's not super relevent, except re. the title of this post. I could kind-of tell where they were riding from eyeballing their Strava routes, and I love exploring and finding stuff, so last weekend I headed up that way, looking for Adventure.

It took me a while to find Tin Can Alley - the trail that connects Olde Rope Mill to everything south of there, but I found it eventually. It generally led over to the Park 9 apartments...

Cool Park Sculpture

...which had various out-of-place feeling gravel roads running around it.

This must be the place!

Oh yeah!

Abandoned Oldsmobile

Definitely the right place!

Trails and old roadbeds everywhere. Everywhere!

And, a lot of them led to, across, or along Noonday Creek or feeders of it.

Noonday Creek


Well, almost glorious. It was a spiderweb to be sure, and I get a little obsessive when it comes to exploring crap, like following overgrown stuff that people don't hike or ride any more, all the way to the end. This sometimes leads to interesting discoveries, especially in areas where the roads aren't just an old logging network. But, not this time. I mostly just found tons of super steep climbing on super eroded old roadbeds. There were plenty of good trails though, and I did have an overall good time.

At some point, I tried hopping a downed tree that was a little bigger around than what I typically hop. I made it over, but apparently my bars were a little loose, and when my front wheel hit, the pressure on the flat parts of the Ergons twisted them toward me.

Bars Spun

It takes freaking forever to get Ergons set right, and I must have stopped to readjust the bars like 10 times over the next few miles.

Down by Noonday Creek, there was this cool log-bridge thing.


The climb up off of the creek there was just sadistic. There were 2 big kicks. I made the first one, but it was almost too steep. Like, I had the bars pulled so close to my chest, that if they'd been any higher, I wouldn't have been able to make it. The second kick... forget about it. It wasn't as steep, but the trail was like 8 inches wide with a big rut to the right. One wrong move... I ended up riding it twice, and just rode off into the rut both times.

The trail beyond led to a golf course, eventually.

Golf Course

...but it was mostly just an out and back.

Back at the top of that sadistic climb, there was a network of trails in both directions, marked by yellow dots, blue lines, and red crosses.

Yellow-Dot and Red Cross Trail

This took forever to explore, and mainly looked like lake access to the various neighborhoods.

Allatoona 1 Allatoona 2

There are a bunch of big, cool rocks on Noonday Creek.

Big Rock on Noonday Creek 1 Big Rock on Noonday Creek 2

...and some interesting materials along the various trails.

Turkey Decoy

The fall colors were in full-pop.

Fall Colors

...and the leaves were actively falling everywhere.

Leaves on the Creek


What was way less awesome, though, was that the Strava app had randomly decided to stop recording some time earlier. I'd lost almost all of the ride. I just happened to notice that it wasn't running while taking a photo.


Traditionally, I'd have the GPS and strava going at the same time, but I never re-mounted it on my new bike, so I've been flying solo for a while now. And, foolishly, it turns out.

"Fortunately" I had to re-ride much of what I'd ridden earlier to get out, so I managed to get some of it. The rest I had to piece together from GPS locations of photos, and old maps, which did, in fact, show some of the old roads I rode.

I made it out of the woods right at dark, after getting slightly lost. I actually pushed out up an old overgrown bit that came out in those apartments I mentioned earlier. As I emerged from the woods, a lady and her like 3-year-old daughter were walking by. Can you imagine, as a mom, how freaked out you would be, if an extremely dirty guy emerged from dark woods, in the dark, right as you walked by. I figured it would be better to actually emerge, than to stop and wait for them to go by, as they undoubtedly had heard me trapsing around well before I was them, and it would be even scarier if I seemed to be hiding, especially if they'd already caught brief sight of me. I said the friendliest hello that I could, and waved, and all that, and it seemed to put them at some amount of ease. Also, I'm sure it started making sense when they saw my helmet and bike and gear. The little girl was totally at ease, at least, because she said hello back and just started talking to me. They were playing hide-and-seek with her brother and dad, apparently! No chance you'll ever read this kid and mom, but if you somehow manage to, I'm sorry if I scared you.

And that was about it. I was on Riverwalk Parkway, so I rode back to the car that way.

Dinner was a Big Kahuna Chicken Sandwich at Canyon. Love it so much.

Looking at GPS data later, it looked like I only explored about 60% of what's out there.

I'll be back.

More Local Discoveries

Well, it's mid-November, and between selling our rent house, and too much work, I've really only had time to ride locally. But, I still managed to see some interesting stuff... Here goes!

This cool guy was hanging out on the side of the Silver Comet - Beltine Connector.

Brown Water Snake

Brown Water Snake or Banded Water Snake? They look really similar, and their ranges overlap right at Atlanta - Browns to the north and Bandeds to the South. Herpetologists comment please!

On another trip out to Austell, I found some sewer lines in the vicinity of Sweetwater Creek. It looks like there's a ton more of them in satellite photos, but I kept running into Private Property signs when I tried. I did find an exercise loop in the woods around a middle school out there.

VitaCourse 2000!

VitaCourse 2000

Most of the exercise stations were slightly overgrown, or in disrepair. It looks like people just walk/jog/ride the trail these days.

At some point, I had to bring something to Kathryn at work, and I ended up driving past it. I'd once noticed an old railbed back there that looked rideable, and figured I'd check it out on the bike some day. On that day, I noticed that it had been paved, beltline-style. Hmmm...

Next chance I got, I rode out there and checked it out. Turns out it's the Westside Beltline Connector.

Westside Beltine Connector

It wasn't finished when I rode it, and it's not immediately clear how it will eventually connect up to anything in either direction. It does end in the vicinity of the Proctor Creek Trail on the west end, so maybe it'll eventually connect up to that. On the east/south end, it's like a half mile from the Beltine, but who knows? I'm sure there's a plan. I'll go check it out again soon.

There's a park semi-nearby called Shoupade Park that I've long wanted to check out, ever since finding a "Shoupade" at River Line Park. Some time ago, I rode over there.

Shoupade Park Sign

Yep. Several more Shoupades.

First Shoupade Second Shoupade Artillery Redan

You can see Atlanta from the ridge.

ATL From the Ridge

And, there's this chimney and smoker that might be old.

Chimney and Smoker

Kinda hard to tell.

I also made it out to Sweetwater Park, not to be confused with Sweetwater State Park, and milled around old trails in the woods surrounding it for a while. It looks like there were, at some point, some semi-official trails back in there. Some of them are still mostly-passable, but trees fell, never got cut out, and it looks like the trails were mostly forgotten. The neighborhood next door - Holly Hills Lake was a bit more interesting. There used to be a connector trail over to it, but a storm had knocked out a little bridge on it too. The locals seemed to still use the part between the neighborhood and the creek, but the trail on the other side was super overgrown.

The "lake" part of the neighborhood name was intriguing, and yep, there was a lake:

Holly Hills Lake Dock Holly Hills Lake Dock Sign Holly Hills Lake

The neighborhood looked a little run-down, and there were a couple of completely abandoned houses.

Abandoned House Near Holly Hills Lake

But it didn't seem unafe or anything.

Way cooler though, was a blocked-off road a bit further down the main street.

Back up in there I found a bunch of ruins...

Mitchell Lane Area Ruins 1 Mitchell Lane Area Ruins 2 Mitchell Lane Area Ruins 3 Mitchell Lane Area Ruins 4 Mitchell Lane Area Ruins 5

...and a series of ponds...

Mitchell Lane Area Ponds

...and what looked like maybe where there was a kiln or something?

An overheated iron bar:

Overheaded Iron Bar

Some glass:


Some vitrified concrete:

Vitrified Concrete Vitrified Cement

Maybe there was just a huge fire? But, this looks like refractory brick:

Refractory Brick


I managed to get a couple of rides in "down by the river" too. Unfortunately, we'd just had a ton of rain, the river had been well over its banks for days, and I'd gone for a ride through the floodplain a little too early the first time. I had to clear my tires like 10 times in a mile. The second ride went a lot better.


Stans to the Rescue

That's not good. But I'm running tubeless these days, like the entire rest of humanity, and it didn't leak at all. I got Glen to plug it a few days later, and it hadn't leaked a bit.


"Down by the river!"


No van though.

There were displaced bridges everywhere.

Displaced Bridge Bridge Footings Another Displaced Bridge

But the trails were mostly rideable, and it turns out one of them led over to the Whittier Mill Trails, sadly, over one of those knocked-out bridges.

Even more interesting though, was the old brick plant.

Brick Plant Sign

The plant was operated by the Chattahoochee Brick Company from 1878 until the 1970's or 1980's. Until 1908, they heavily employed convict labor under the convict lease system. Standard practice was apparently to work laborers to death and then bury them in unmarked graves. Brick produced by the company during this period was widely used to rebuild Atlanta after the Civil War. What a legacy.

General Shale ran the plant until 2008 when it was shut down and demolished.

Plenty of brick was abadoned in place though.

Abandoned Bricks

And, it looks like some people dumped some cars back there, and then other people had all kinds of fun with them.

Burned-Out Vehicles

I could kind-of make out where the main plant used to be, and there was a giant area covered in waste clay, and another giant area covered in bits of old refactory brick. It definitely bears futher exploration though.

A few days later I was riding on the Silver Comet and saw this decent sized buck just hanging out.

Buck on the Silver Comet

Lots of people walking and riding by. No cares given.

All right then.

On another ride, I smelled a herd of deer well before I saw them. They smelled like horses. I've seen probably a thousand or more deer in the woods, alone, in small groups, and in decent sized herds. Never smelled them before.

And, that's about it for recent local discoveries.

More to come, I'm sure.