In Search of Slag on Simms Mountain Rail Trail

The endlessly flat walk of the Simm’s Mountain Rail Trail is almost decadent because it runs right through the foothills of Georgia! You get to enjoy fall foliage rising into the sky on the hillsides without actually having to climb the hills themselves. In Fall there is an abundance of tasty things that tend to show up on this trail, including muscadines (wild grapes) throughout the trail, buckeyes near Cabin Creek, and a persimmon tree across from the turkey houses. A non-edible year around find for those rock hounds and historians is an abundance of glass slag and iron smelting slag found along the abandoned rail road bed. Apparently this type of slag was commonly used for rail road ballast because it was cheap waste from industrial production. To the untrained eye it looks like the more exotic obsidian and pumice, and makes an interesting souvenir of the hike.

This trail is popular with mountain bikers because it is so flat and so rideable, however it is also open to horse back riders and of course, the adventurous day tripping goat. I highly recommend spending a nice fall day on this one.

Is it goat approved? Yes. They allow horses so goats are unlikely to get so much as a raised eyebrow. If you actually meet anyone on the trail…I spent all day and didn’t pass a soul.

How you get there: You want to go down Huffaker Road in Rome GA. It starts out as “Technology Parkway” in Rome and becomes Huffaker as you drive. The parking location is just where the trail crosses Huffaker near Big Texas Valley Road. The coordinates of the trail head are: 34.292590, -85.340773.

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Park at the trail head. There is no official vehicle parking.

Time for hike: The distance for this hike is 9 miles round trip. This is an out and back hike to the turkey houses just beyond the official end of the Simm’s Mountain Trail on the Pinhoti Trail that continues after Simm’s ends.

Best season to do this hike: I would avoid summer because sections of the road are exposed and there is NO water for most of the walk for goats. However, fall and winter would be delightful.


 Trails to Take

Start off at the trail head…and keep on walking. You will cross over Cabin Creek about 1/4 mile from the trail head. There is a rope and unofficial trail down to the creek, (and a man made swimming hole) on the far side of the bridge. This is the ONLY public water access on the entire hike where you can water goats.

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Old rail bridge over Cabin Creek
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Bamboo Grove

Past the creek, the trail continues, crossing first one road, and then after a string of houses, crossing another. The trail spends much of its time running next to the road, making this  great trail to take beginner goats on to get them used to cars. There is also an abundance of large, loud dogs in fenced enclosures for bomb proofing goats for dog barking. Near the dogs, keep an eye out for an old concrete railroad marker that has been repainted to act as a Pinhoti Trail marker.

Before crossing Hwy 100 the rail bed runs through a large, open clearing, with spectacular views of the hills and a well maintained pine plantation.

The official end of Simm’s Mountain Rail Trail is at Hwy 100. If you want to go on, you can cross the highway on the cross walk and continue on the Pinhoti Trail north. I walked down Pinhoti until I was level with the turkey houses across the road, which is a nice turn round marker.

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View from trail near Hwy 100
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Rough Map of the Rail Trail

 

BE WARNED

  1. The only trail reviews I found for this trail were from mountain bikers…so it is a good bet you will meet a biker on this trail.
  2. The ONLY water point on the trail for goats is Cabin Creek, reached via a rope someone strung between trees and a good deal of sliding down hill. You may want to bring water with you for the goats.
  3. The area is..well, lets just say I would not have been surprised to hear banjos playing. Most of the houses also had big signs about security systems and ‘smile you are on camera’. Together this suggests you may not want to leave anything of value in your truck when you park it.
  4. There is a spring house near Hwy 100 just off the trail with a pipe that feeds spring water into a creek. However, as stated in #3, this is Deliverance level country. Don’t want to get shot? Don’t go get water at the spring house.
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Watch out for box turtles on the trail and roads. They tend to lose at Frogger I’ve noticed.

In sum: I almost mistook the glass slag for obsidian, until I remembered that obsidian doesn’t come in bright green. Why is the real thing never as pretty as the fake?

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