There is a forest in
located in ,
called the Appling County .
It’s owned jointly by the Nature Conservancy and the State of Moody Forest .
This forest contains the last stand of old growth, virgin, long-leaf pines in
the state. It also has two hiking trails. There isn’t much information about Georgia available on the internet.
My mom and I found the most information here and here, and decided to take a
trip to Moody
to visit the Appling County .
We also thought about checking out the Hatch Nuclear Power Plant, as it’s
located there, too, and I have rather an absurd interest in traveling to
nuclear power plants. (This one, admittedly, is safer than the Moody Forest
reactors, which I visited back in August.) Chernobyl
As the Nature Conservancy site didn't include directions, we copied the following directions from OhRanger.com, and set off for
From Baxley: Go 7 miles north on U.S. 1. Turn right on Lennox Rd, go 4.2 miles. Turn left on Davis Landing Rd., go 2.3 miles. Turn left on East River Rd., go 0.8 miles to kiosk.
Now, as you see, these directions are very specific. There’s no “approximately two miles” – instead it’s “go 4.2mi.” Unfortunately, at the
4.2 mile mark, there was no Davis Landing
Road, or any other road. It was close to a Penny
Morris Road, but not exact. We did eventually find Davis Landing – about three miles
from its specified location. From there on out, the directions did match what
we saw in real life… however, when we finally came to the “kiosk” it was
nothing more than a small board with a bit of an overhanging roof, with a
clipboard attached to it. The clipboard read ‘Moody Forest Turkey Shoot Sign
In.’ Next to this “kiosk” was an open gate. We drove through it, and down the
winding, narrow track (which passed through young planted pines – certainly not
virgin old growth) until we came to the power-lines (the lines running from the
Hatch Plant cut a rather big swath through the countryside down there, as the
plant provides a lot of power). Next to the power-lines was a fenced off area
(preventing one from driving on) and a sign that said ‘parking’ and nothing
Mom: “This is IT???”
Nothing looked like a trail. There were no maps or brochures or informative signs. There certainly weren’t any old growth long-leaf pines. Only young slash pines and power lines.
We decided to drive further down the road. Even though we’d found our “kiosk” on the right at exactly .8mi down East River Road, it really did not seem to be the right place. So, we kept driving
East River Road. We passed numerous areas which were
being logged. We also passed the crumbling remains of an old homestead. After
eventually deciding that there really wasn’t another kiosk any further down the
road, we turned around and decided that, since we were there, we’d explore the
remains of the homestead.
The first step in this process was climbing over a locked gate. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, right? Teehee. There was a crumbling old farmhouse (surrounded by poison ivy), a fairly newish barn, and a crumbling old barn. Definitely fun to poke around in and photograph.
Eventually we climbed back over the gate, got back in the car, and decided to head for the
. Davis Landing Road would have
a boat landing, surely? Well, the “landing” turned out to be a private fishing
community, surrounded by tons of ‘no trespassing’ signs. We drove on in. The
community consisted of numerous trailers (in varying states of disrepair) up on
stilts. It was incredibly photogenic, but I didn’t take any photos as it looked
very much like the sort of place where one might get shot. Altamaha
Back at the intersection with
River Road, we decided to head east. This merely
took us to the Appling County Landfill and a Baptist church with a fairly
interesting old cemetery.
Having explored in all three directions from the intersection, we pretty much gave up, and began heading back the way we came. Heading back down
no longer concentrating on the search for Davis Landing
Rd, we noticed a bright red building and slowed
down to check it out. The sign on it read ‘ 1929- Ten-Mile
School 1958.’ We parked the car and got out
to take a look. Then, as the gate wasn’t locked so well (forgive us our
trespasses?), we wandered on in. And as the building itself wasn’t locked….
About a quarter mile (or maybe even a little less) down the road from the school was another old homestead, surrounded by brush and obviously abandoned. We pulled over and poked around.
Then a fellow (late 50s early 60s) rode up on a three-wheeler.
Mom: “Is this your property? We were just taking photos.”
I always let my mom do the talking when we get caught trespassing. Really.
The guy turned out to be quite nice – and fairly interesting. We talked to him for a good hour. He told us about the house (it had been his grandparents’ house), and about the school (which he had attended for two years before it closed). He told us a little of the history of the Moody Forest and Swamp, and he gave us directions to the Moody Forest which he wasn’t completely sure were correct as he hadn’t been down there in a while, but which went in the opposite direction from the ones mom and I had followed earlier in the day. Also, he was retired from the Hatch Plant – so he gave us directions to it as well. Of course I told him I’d been to
so we discussed nuclear reactors, containment vessels, and the current state of
the sarcophagus covering the Chernobyl
reactor. Because when you get busted for trespassing by a guy on a three
wheeler, these are the things you talk about. Chernobyl
After saying goodbye to this fellow, we set off following his directions. They weren’t entirely accurate (we needed the second intersection with a tree in the center of the road, not the first), but hey! It lead us there. (At the second tree, when we were thinking we were totally lost, we asked two people who were riding past on four wheelers; they told us go left for the Moody Forest Conservation Center, go right and take our first left to get to the river.)
We went left – and hadn’t gone far at all – when we saw a sign at a driveway that said ‘Nature Conservancy,’ as well as the remaining buildings from the old Moody farm. We were thinking Whew! Finally! as we pulled up to the Nature Conservancy building. There were at least six cars parked next to it. The light was on. The door was locked. Peering in, we saw that lunch was literally on the table. On the back porch, a glass with the dregs of cola sat on the table, next to a pair of sunglasses. A water glass sat on the hood of a State of
truck. No one was around. GA
This was the point where I started feeling like we’d fallen into the Twilight Zone. Or like we were in the beginning of a cheesy horror flick. It was unbelievably eerie. There should have been people bustling about. It looked like they’d just dropped everything and left – although they would’ve had to have left on foot (or perhaps on ATVs), as all their cars and trucks were there. Additionally, even though there had been the one sign stating ‘Nature Conservancy’ there were no other signs, maps, pamphlets, brochures, information…. Nothing. The only reason we knew that the old buildings were part of the old Moody farm were because the man who busted us for trespassing had told us that the old Elizabeth Moody house was located next to the Nature Conservancy office.
We looked for trails. We finally found one – unmarked – behind one of the storage sheds by the office. We walked down it a ways, finding only one or two old pines, a lot of young pines, and some mutant oaks with scary gargantuan shiny leaves. Must be the radiation. Eventually we came to a place where the trail was crossed by a wide swampy stream. We decided to turn around at that point.
We got back to the car, and I was convinced it wasn’t going to start. Had this been a horror movie, it wouldn’t have. Luckily, it started right up. We decided to get the hell out of there (as it was really starting to creep us out) and head for the river. Take the right fork and then the first left to get to the river… well, you know where that first left was located? Right across from that gate we’d climbed over earlier in the day. We were going in circles. I should mention that the entire are around the old homestead (where we climbed the gate) was being logged. We began to wonder if there really were any virgin old growth longleaf pines, or if they’d all been logged. It would certainly explain the inaccurate directions – keep people away, they’ll never know how we’re making our fortune! Bwahaha!
We were almost to the river when we saw a sign saying ‘River Trail’ and pointing us to the right. A short drive later, we found a parking area, a kiosk, maps, and brochures. Woohoo! If only it weren’t so late in the day. We hadn’t had lunch yet, and neither of us was up to a two mile hike on an empty stomach. We’d have to come back.
We kept on driving towards the river. We eventually found it, but there wasn’t anywhere to park, so we drove on a short ways… only to find a rather hard-to-read sign stating “
– Really?? We’d yet to see an elderly longleaf pine. Shortly past the sign was
an area where I could pull off the road to park. Mom and I got out, planning to
walk back to the river so I could get some pictures. However, at this point,
another fellow (probably late 50s) rode up on a four wheeler and asked if we
were lost. Mom asked told him about what we’d found at the Moody Forest office,
and how we’d been looking for the two trails all day and had only just located
the River Trail. She asked if he knew how to find the other trail, and of
course he did. Better yet, his house was in that direction, so how about we
just follow him, and he’d show us where to go. We decided we’d check out the
river some other time, and got back in the car to follow him. Leaving
He headed right back towards where we’d come from. We decided that if he turned into the Nature Conservancy office area we weren’t going to stop, and were just going to drive off as quickly as possible like a couple of madwomen. Luckily, he drove past the office. Eventually we came to some more homestead remains (according to this fellow, they were of the Wade Moody house), another parking area, and another trailhead with a kiosk, sign, brochures, and maps.
At this point it was definitely too late in the day to do any hiking. We talked to this fellow for a while (he told us about how he used to know Wade and Elizabeth Moody before they died, about drawing water from the well for them – which he warned us not to fall into – and about how the land had become part of the Nature Conservancy. He also assured us that there really were old growth long leaf pines down this trail (Tavia’s Trail), and that the area that was being logged was not part of the land owned by the Nature Conservancy.
After he left, mom and I explored the buildings by the trail head (and found the well, which we didn’t fall into), found the cemetery in which Elizabeth and Wade are buried, and again decided that it was DEFINITELY too late in the day to go hiking.
At this point, we followed the directions from the second man – keep following the road we were on westward, and we’d come to US 1. Really, access to the main area of
really is that simple: Drive
north from Baxley about Moody
Forest 8 miles
on US 1. Turn right on East River Road
(yes, this was East River Road
again). The park is on your right. Period. Easy. Simple. Not like our crazy ass
directions to the middle of nowhere.
Instead we went and drove past Plant Hatch. I really wanted to get a picture, but cars on that stretch of US 1 were just flying by, and I didn’t want my little two door
to get pummeled if I tried to slow down and pull off to the side of the road. I
did, however, manage to get some nice shots of the amusing no trespassing signs
surrounding Plant Hatch. Apparently they don’t forgive trespassers; they shoot