History in Motion: Train Trestle on the Silver Comet Rail Trail

What do you do when an unexpected on trail injury cancels the main event for your weekend at Panthertown? You go home, get lazy, and decide to go on the second in the series of lazy day hikes for lazy people on the Silver Comet Rail Trail.

*Note: if you like scenery and enjoyable hikes, skip this one. But if you are trying to complete the whole Silver Comet…well, grinding is boring, what were you expecting?

Is it goat approved? They allow horses, so goats should be okay.

How you get there: Go to Rambo Road Trail Head at 33.914894, -84.868738

Time for hike: The distance for this hike is 6.5 miles in a loop. About half of that is the unbelievably boring and flat Silver Comet and the other half is me getting impatient and doing some off trail walking.

Best season to do this hike: WINTER. The route is exposed to sun and would be ticky, sticky, and bitchy in warm weather.


Trails to Take

Get to the trail head. Go right. Walk…and walk…and walk…The train trestle is the bridge in the first picture – it doesn’t really look much like the historical trestle it was before the renovation.

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Spacious parking at the trail head and a water fountain? We’re lost in suburban hell again aren’t we…

This makes a good bomb proofing hike because it includes bikes, dogs, people, tunnels, cars, and off and on leash sections. As you go, watch for little blue signs on your left that say “Silver Comet Side Trails”. These are short (think a couple footballs fields in length) sections running parallel to the Silver Comet in the woods. When there aren’t a lot of mountain bikers around they are a great ways to add variety to the monotonous Silver Comet.

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The two tunnels on the route are good for bomb proofing goats to traffic. Without, you know, having to stand in the middle of the road.
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The powerline cut – a great way to go off leash and around private property

At the power line cut, I went right, walked down the dirt road through the cut to Willow Springs Rd, then turned right and went down Mt. Olivet Road back to the tunnel the Silver Comet takes under Mt. Olivet.

Then back to the truck.

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BE WARNED

  1. The website calls this a “remote” section of the Silver Comet. There ain’t noth’in remote about this place. Expect high traffic, high density subdivisions, and low quality scenery.
  2. If you really like train trestles the train trestle over which the Silver Comet travels on this hike no longer resembles a train track in anyway. Not worth walking out to if that’s what you came for.

In sum: 

Fortune cookie say “better to endure misfortune with your spouse, than to say something that will get you left in the woods by yourself”

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Light at The End of the Tunnel on the Silver Comet Rail Trail

While that ominous light at the end of the tunnel used to be a train on the Silver Comet Rail Trail, today it’s more likely to be an oncoming mass of cyclists in spandex. An almost completely flat rail trail composed of 61.5 miles of paved roadway running from Atlanta to the Alabama border this is definitely going to be a multi-day trip if you want to walk the whole thing with a goat. And if at the end of the day that isn’t enough mileage for you the trail meets up with the Chief Ladiga Trail at the Alabama line…and you can go on a tour of Alabama next. Just make sure to watch out for highspeed sweaty spandex barreling down on you like you’ve suddenly been transported to the Toure de France.

This is the first in a series of day hikes for the lazy goat and even lazier human on the Silver Comet. Today’s sojourn includes the turn of the century 800 foot railway tunnel under Brushy Mountain Road, (mile marker 30.9).

As an added bonus on Hwy 114 nearby there is an excellent collection of nuclear cooling towers surrounded by picturesque rural farmland!

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Power station you can almost drive up to

Is it goat approved? The trail is officially open as far as I can tell for its entire length to horses. Which is a joke, because you couldn’t ride a horse around the psycho road bikers doing 35 mph down the roadway. However, since it is open to horses…it is open to goats. I also did not have too much trouble with other trail users while walking the goat, so I can recommend this trail if your goat hikes on leash and is comfortable with bikes.

How you get there: Google Coot’s Lake Trail Head for Silver Comet Trail. Google will take you right there. The parking area is right next to the trail crossing and is paved.

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The Parking Lot

Time for hike: The distance for this hike is 7 miles. It is an out and back on flat, easy terrain.

Best season to do this hike: Autumn, spring, or winter. The roadway will burn you up in summer and there are plenty of insects even in fall.


 Trails to Take

Okay, seriously, this is easy. You want to get out of your truck/car/minivan/goat powered Subaru Forester with optional vegetable oil distiller and walk to the clearly visible trail. Don’t cross the road, go the other way on the trail (i.e. east) ! And then walk…and walk…and walk…until you reach a really cool tunnel!

That is really all there is to it.

 

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Coot’s Beach Trail Head Sign

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Tunnel entrance
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In the tunnel
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On the roadway/trail

BE WARNED

  1. Beware of high speed bikers who don’t give goats much room.
  2. The only trail side water point is a pool of stagnant water at one end of the railway tunnel. You may want to bring a bottle of water for the goat(s).
  3. The tunnel is disappointingly lit…which means you don’t need the glow sticks, lantern, and flaming torch you were dying to try out.

 

In sum: Why light an otherwise perfectly creepy and ominous 800 foot railway tunnel two weeks before Halloween? Because you are a party pooper. That is the only excuse I can come up with…

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