Atlanta’s Old Growth Forest

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Atlanta’s Old Growth Forest

Fernbank
Atlanta’s Old Growth Forest, Mix Hart

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.

Atlanta’s Old Growth Forest, Mix Hart

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.

Atlanta’s Old Growth Forest, Mix Hart

Above: the red earth of Georgia that Margret Mitchell writes about in Gone With the Wind.

I adore the smell of the southern landscapes. Fernbank forest reminds me of the fresh, sweet scent of the humid evening air on the grounds of the antebellum mansions along the Mississippi.

Fernbank Forest, Atlanta, Mix Hart

Above: historical home at Fernbank.

Atlanta’s Old Growth Forest, Mix Hart

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.

Atlanta’s Old Growth Forest, Mix Hart

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.

Fernbank Forest, Mix Hart

Peter, posing beside an American beech tree.

Atlanta’s Old Growth Forest, Mix Hart

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.

Atlanta’s Old Growth Forest, Mix Hart
Fernbank Forest, Atlanta, Mix Hart
Fernbank Forest, Atlanta, Mix Hart
Fernbank Forest, Atlanta, Mix Hart
Fernbank Forest, Atlanta, Mix Hart
Fernbank Forest, Atlanta, Mix Hart
Red Oak, Fernbank Forest, Atlanta, Mix Hart

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