Here’s another quick and easy thing to do on a Sunday afternoon—walk the Hardman Farm trail to Helen. We’ve been wanting to walk it for a while now, but winter rains literally washed part of it away. Thankfully, it was still “walkable” when we went there a few weeks ago.
I did a little bit of tracing down the the history behind this walking path and learned that it once was an old Gold Mining trail. The Gold Rush in America began here—near Helen along the Unicoi Trail/Turnpike and at nearby Duke’s Creek. Then it moved west. Above is a photo of the upper Chattanooga River on the opposite side of Nora Mill.
This trail is a mile long and people are on it with you. So, you won’t need your “bear spray.” The two miles there and back is a easy walk. There’s a parking lot near Helen’s water plant and that is the best place to park. It’s free and often State run Hardman Farms is closed in the later afternoons. This is a lovely, winding walkway that follows the river and also hugs the mountain side.
In this area, the Chattahoochee River is clear and pretty clean. We watched people trout fishing in the icy January water!
One of the things I liked about this trail is that the developers kept it as natural as possible. These rocks are so cool. They look like they are begging for someone to step over to them and sit awhile.
At one time, a small railroad followed this same pathway into the city of Helen. So this was once a very busy trail because early settlers also used it along with those caught up in gold mining.
This section is intact but other parts of the fencing is washed away (sad) due to the floods earlier this winter. But miraculously, the walkway is still there.
We passed an old gold mine, and I guess it’s real. You have to be careful about what you believe in this part of northeast Georgia. I do know that gold was mined in this area and there are abandoned mines, with plenty of mining equipment left behind. Here it looks like someone decided to end the search and walked away. Then a heavy gate was put up in the rock to keep explorers out.
And here’s some of the “left behind” equipment. I tried to find out if the city had placed it here for people like me to photograph. This appears to be what is left of a real Gold mine equipment. Back in the 1800’s they did use dynamite to blow out part of the mountains in search of gold. Many companies also used hydraulic mining where they washed part of the mountain side away.
Old Timers have told me over that miners were so determined in their search for gold that they actually washed away many of our mountain sides. I know they did a lot of damage in the nearby Duke’s Creek area.
What is left of a gold mining operation. It is located just off the pathway near Helen.
Finally, Anne is standing by a marker that has Ted Turner’s name on it. His family’s foundation is committed to preserving this portion of the river. She worked for Turner and CNN for years when we knew it as the “go to place” for news coverage. Ted has a home in Clarkesville complete with Buffalo, which was once native to this area.