This week we loaded up for yet another state park to mark off of our list. It ended up being possibly my favorite park yet! James H “Sloppy” Floyd State Park (named after a gangly Georgia State Representative, hence the “sloppy”) was like a little diamond in the rough- a small park tucked right in the middle of true country residential roads.
My love for this 561 acre park began with the drive to it. Once we turned off of I-75, we drove through some genuine small-town country roads, and got to enjoy the views of the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest. The lime green spring trees surrounded us and gave a real sense of mountain living. It had my imagination running about what it would be like to move from big-ol metro Atlanta into the quiet country.
Once we arrived into the park, the stillness and beauty continued. The park surrounds a small lake with trees, which have hiking trails and backcountry campsites tucked away in them. We saw very few people while at the park (perks of heading up on a Tuesday afternoon), and the ones we did see were quiet older men enjoying fishing and watching ducks swim. Upon stopping at the visitors center, we found that it was only $5 a person to rent a pedal boat. This seemed like the perfect activity for us and our 3 year old son to enjoy. We suited up in provided life jackets and headed out on the pedal boats, which were very nice and kept us covered from the sun while on the lake. Our son loved steering the boat while we did all the leg work!
We decided to give our leg muscles a break before heading out on a hike, so we took a while and fed the friendly ducks with food we purchased for $1. We got to enjoy seeing some tiny goslings which in the words of our son were “sooooo cute!” Once we regained some energy, we started on the 1.7 mile Marble Mine trail, which turned out to be a little more brutal than we expected. It was actually a bit of a challenging hike for a little kid, because it maintained a slightly steep incline for a majority of the time. He did fine with some encouragement but I could tell we were pushing the limits. There was a compost toilet on the trail, which is a part of the much larger Pinhoti trail, so that was a plus for someone bringing children.
When it already felt like we had been hiking for a while, we were staring up the steepest part of the trail yet, and I was thinking our son’s good attitude was going to crack soon. We kept pushing though and as soon as we reached the peak of the trail, we heard a waterfall and felt cool, refreshing air surround us. A few more steps and we saw the reward of the trail: the Marble Mine waterfall. The old mine has a small boardwalk that takes you into the cave-like area and behind the stream of water pouring down. You can sit on a wooden bench behind the falls and peer into the beautiful pool of blue water, admire the mossy rock walls surrounding you, or try to see into the deep caverns behind you.
The Marble Mine Trail provided an experience for me that I don’t often have in Georgia’s mild nature. The feeling of a challenge opening up into a surprisingly beautiful part of earth, leaving you with a sense of true awe. I really recommend this hike for anyone, because albeit being moderately challenging for little kids or inexperienced hikers, the end reward is worth it. James H “Sloppy” Floyd Park was the perfect place to get away into nature and enjoy some peace. To me, this is the kind of place that keeps people coming back out to explore wildlife. It definitely gave me the boost I needed to keep going, with 48 State Parks to go!
Until next week-