Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hidden Pond Trail

This trip was another field trip in the Georgia Botanical Society weekend for their annual spring pilgrimage. For the Sunday trip, I decided to sign up for the Hidden Pond Trail at Carter’s Lake in Murray County, GA after reading about it in the Nourses’ Favorite Wildflower Walks in Georgia. Also, Richard Ware was the trip leader for #23 and I can’t pass up the opportunity to learn from Richard and Teresa Ware!

Bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia)
Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

Our entry into the trail was a short walk from the parking lot and then across a small bridge on the right. I immediately saw one of the reddest red buckeyes (Aesculus pavia) that I’d ever seen, surrounded by a grove of blooming bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia). Around us were yellow trillium (Trillium luteum, smell it to be sure ….), dissected toothwort (Cardamine dissecta), and red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). Woody plants included winged elm (Ulmus alata) as well as both blackhaw viburnums: southern blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium) and rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum).  

Frasera caroliniensis
Dwarf larkspur (Delphinium tricorne)

Next we came to an area full of American columbo (Frasera caroliniensis), a tall member of the Gentianaceae family. Only a few of them were putting up bloom stalks this year. I might have to come back in a couple months to see the blooms. We also saw black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), fire pink (Silene virginica), dwarf larkspur (Delphinium tricorne), and bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana).  

Prunus americana
Shooting stars

After passing across the observation deck (where I spotted a blooming American plum (Prunus americana) and hacked my way over to it to confirm it and see a tiger swallowtail butterfly on it), we came to shady area with loads of shooting stars (Dodecatheon meadia) in bloom under a grove of buckeye hybrids (Aesculus spp.). From there we looped back towards the parking lot, passing some of the largest clumps of yellow trillium on the whole trail.

After the hike, I took a short trip up the road (less than a mile) to see a dry slope with a marvelous population of bird’s foot violet (Viola pedata). I had seen it two days earlier on my trip to Coosawattee Bluffs and knew that I wanted to get a picture of it. Of course, the picture pales in comparison to the real thing.

Bird's foot violets (Viola pedata)

Hidden Pond Trail is available to anyone, any time that the recreation area is open. The entrance to the Carter’s Lake Reregulation Dam Recreation Area is on Old 411. The sign for the trail is visible from the parking area.


  1. Always surprised by how interesting this trail can be.
    Hugh Nourse