A few weeks ago, I went hunting for the elusive Fernbank Forest, and ended up at Depende Park, instead.
I did promise to give it another try, and enlisted the help of a local I met on the Depende trails. Yet… the name of this post isn’t A “Guided” Hike at Fernbank Forest. So what happened?
The good news is: we found the elusive evergreen forest. The bad news? It cost $18 to get in. That brought us back to the drawing board.
Fortunately, my hiking buddy came prepared with a Plan B: Mason Mill.
Charting New Territory
I had never heard of Mason Mill before, but that was all the more reason to see it for myself. I was expecting something like Roswell Mill.
But Mason had its own character and charm.
We started off on paved trails, until I spied a dirt trail. We had to scramble down a hill, and then made our way down the overgrown path.
Mason was a former haunt of my Guide during his teen years, but my curiosity soon brought us into uncharted territory, even for him.
Nothing pleases me more than finding waterscapes on a trail. Even better, we stayed close to the river for most of our hike.
If you’ve been following my adventures on the trails long enough, then you know the next thing I would look for on a trail is a bridge. I was not disappointed. The river ran beneath it, slow and silent.
After trudging through the mud, my Guide decided we should cross the river and scramble up the high banks under the bridge.
It was a hell of a challenge to climb up the bank, which was maybe a good 20-30 feet high, but we made it up somehow. The view was totally worth it.
After exploring the tracks for a bit, we decided to turn back. I’m not sure which was harder: going up the river bank, or going down.
On the way back, we tried an alternative route, but that led to a dead end.
Correcting that soon brought us back to the river, again.
Paved & Boarded
Retracing our steps the rest of the way took us back to the paved trails, and over a smaller bridge with a great view of the stream below. The trees were encroaching on the river’s territory, but that only made for a better photo op.
After the bridge, and a few twists and turns on the paved walkway, we ended up on a boardwalk.
The boardwalk weaved in and out of the trees, and was essentially one very long wooden bridge, snaking over the river below. We followed it all the way to the end, and then doubled back again to follow the paved path out of the park.
On the way out, I came across the coolest bird houses I’ve ever seen on a trail.
This impromptu Guided Hike turned out to be pretty darn amazing. I didn’t snap as many photos as I usually do, but the ones I did get are some of the best I’ve ever taken.
What do you guys think?