Atlanta’s Old Growth Forest
In the heart of the city of Atlanta is a small section (65 acres) of old growth (up to 300 years old), hard wood forest that has been preserved. Atlanta was officially established in 1839; thus, the forest existed at least 150 years before Atlanta was born. Fernbank is an urban forest so there are cement paths through it and some (idiot’s) initials carved into the largest of the trees’ bark, but is is a beautiful escape from the concrete skyscrapers of downtown Atlanta.
The air is humid and fragrant. I step into the winter forest and instantly feel relaxed and happy. The scents from the trees fill my brain receptors with natural “happy” drugs and I fall in love with the forests of the south and begin to understand what the landscapes of Georgia must have been like before the arrival of Europeans.
Above: the red earth of Georgia that Margret Mitchell writes about in Gone With the Wind.
Above: historical home at Fernbank.
I had hoped to make it to the Chatahoochie National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it is a 2 h drive one way and there will no be time this trip. Fernbank is a small taste of the southern old growth forests that I long to explore.
Above:short leaf pine tree.
The Fernbank trees are all new to me as the Canadian forests near my home contain none of the same trees. Fernbank forest is filled with giant red and white oak trees, beechwood, tulip poplar, ash, pine and magnolia. I am trying to remember which bark patterns belong to which species.
Above: me standing with an old growth tulip poplar tree.
Peter, posing beside an American beech tree.
Above: small woodpecker perched on a tree.
Below: a handy assortment of labeled old growth Georgia trees to help you remember which bark belongs to which tree.