Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Hikers, backpackers, campers, climbers and cavers travel to Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area to take in the beauty of Walker County on a weekly basis.
Area manager Tim Gilbreath, of LaFayette, said climbers like to come to Rocktown this time of year to climb the boulders hand over hand, using chalk for a better grip and flat shoes that grip the rocks. Couples also like to hike to Rocktown to take in the beauty around them and sometimes stop for a picnic.
“Rocktown has several thousand boulders and the rock formations are 200 million years old,” said Gilbreath, adding that the area is for day use only. “About 200,000 people come here every year and about 50,000 of them are rock climbers. We have climbers from all over the country and cavers from all over the world that visit here. We’ve got one of the deepest cave pits in the world in Ellison’s Cave called the Fantastic Pit that is 600 feet of straight rope rappelling.”
In the first two weeks of January, 4,000 to 5,000 people typically come to Rocktown to climb boulders, because at that time of year the rocks are the most abrasive and easiest to climb, he said.
The hike to Rocktown is 2 miles round-trip, but the wildlife area has a total of 50 miles of trails to hike.
“We get boulder climbers, butterfly chasers, photographers, astronomers, hikers, backpackers and hunters of big and small game,” said Gilbreath. “We have deer, turkey, rabbits, quail, squirrels, foxes and coyotes.”
He noted that Pigeon Mountain’s Petty John Campground and Petty John’s Cave also draw about 10,000 visitors each year.
Though the wildlife management area is a highly used spot, some people living in Walker County don’t know about it, he added.
A year ago the wildlife management area began issuing Georgia Outdoor Recreational Passes. It is required to be in the possession of people visiting the area.
“We strive for a family environment here,” said Gilbreath.
Alcohol can only be consumed at the campsite and not along the trails. He and volunteers work to keep the trails clean and clear of debris, both manmade and natural.
“I would like to encourage everyone that visits to stop by the check station for maps, rules and regulations,” said Gilbreath. “We want people to have a positive outdoor experience here.”