Honoring the Earth…. Cascade Springs Nature Preserve


It was time to get back to nature, away from the electronics and daily assault of information and regroup. Luckily, we have many options to choose from in the Atlanta area. This time I opted to visit the Cascade Springs Nature Preserve. Located in SW Atlanta, Fulton County, this 120- acre forested gem offers many cool features, including a waterfall, much wild life, and natural springs that feed the park’s many different streams. The park lies along Cascade Road, which connected the Stone Mountain area of Georgia to the Western Alabama border back when it was known as “Sandtown Road”, an old Native American road. The preserve is one of the largest old growth forests inside the city limits. Given it’s late winter / early spring, the park is not in it’s gardeny splendor. However, it’s easy to imagine just how lovely this nature preserve is when in full bloom.

The path I took with my friend took us from the parking lot and over a boardwalk that edges on earthworks dug by Civil War Troops for the battle of Utoy Creek. Details of the Battle of Utoy Creek can be seen on the signpost in the park.

Shortly thereafter, we came upon a moss-covered springhouse over a trickling spring. At the turn of the century, these spring waters were considered to be restorative and an exclusive resort, including a restaurant and hotel, was built, even though it was the site where hundreds of soldiers died. Up until the 1950’s, the spring water was actually bottled and sold!

We took the path to the west and a few steps into the woods, we came upon an old dilapidated cabin or building which upon investigation was an old pump house. Further along the path we could hear the sound of falling water through the forest. We came upon the Cascade Springs Waterfall. The water cascades under an often traffic-filled bridge and falls over three tumbling cascades. Ivy draped across the opening, partially obscuring the opening.

From there, we walked up and over the ridge and wound through switchbacks in a boulder-studded woods. Not exactly sure which of the trails we took, we meandered and traversed through the Spring Trail, the Ridge Trail and the Utoy Creek trails and hiked for about an hour to an hour and a half. We passed the Utoy Creek, an old quarry where rock quarried from there was used to build houses in the area, and wound back up at the spring house.

It was interesting to consider that where we walked through the woods and along the springs many soldiers fought and lost their lives. While on the one side, I don’t care to glorify a war fought over ending slavery, it’s part of the history of the city and almost makes me want to be more of a history buff.

What a great park right within our city – although surrounded by roads and house and civilization, it’s easy to forgot that when your walking around and enjoying nature.

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Michelle Hipp

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