Off the Beaten Path
Join me on an adventure. Where will we go today?
An adorable spring is located in Varnell, Georgia, close to the intersection of Spring Street and West Varnell Main Street. I see people collecting water there nearly every time I drive by, despite the warning signs that state the springs are not an approved water source.
In 2007, Varnell won a Five Star Wetlands Restoration Program Grant through the Conasauga River Alliance, the nonprofit group that protects the Conasauga River and the watershed. Varnell Springs flows into Coahulla Creek, which feeds the Conasauga.
The funds built a boardwalk along with a previous grant, which helped clean up invasive species such as Chinese Privet shrubs. Over sixty native plants are in this small area. I walked the trail and was pleased to see several benches and small plaques that identified many native plants. The trail is about a third of a mile and level unless you go to the top of the hill. The trail is covered with leaves in October 2023, and many above-ground tree roots are covered. I tripped several times, so be aware if you have ambulatory issues.
To my delight, a second spring is deeper than the one closer to the road down the trail. It is nearly a blue hole color with bubbles rising from the bottom. The trail boasts a bat box along with educational information about bats. Several educational plaques along the way made the springs an ideal outdoor classroom.
At the top of the hill sits a small pavilion with additional seating. The hike down is a bit treacherous, with gravel that shifts and slides. Looking back up the hill, I could see the road was for official use only and continued to the top with no trespassing signs.
Across the road is another pavilion and a playground. Part of the walkway over the wetlands area of the streams is closed off. During the warm months, a farmer's market springs up across from the springs. The hiking trail map is credited to https://www.whitfieldcountyga.com/rec/parks/parkimages/image141.jpg.
If you want a free activity for about an hour with the kids, take them to the playground and the hiking trail. Please do not get in the water because this habitat has fragile wildlife.