Print-Friendly Version
Add this event to your calendar (Outlook, iCalendar)
Add REGISTRATION REMINDER to your calendar

REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page.

Estelle Mine, Pocket Loop, and Wildflower Trails + optional activities

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: Crockford-Pigeon WMA   Hike: Estelle Mine, Pocket Loop, and Wildflower Trails + optional activities  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Mar 23 2019  10:00 am >> Sat, Mar 23 2019 6:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 8:00 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Thu, Mar 14 2019 8:08 pm
Registration Cut Off: Thu, Mar 21 2019 10:18 pm
Event Duration:8 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult
Distance:13 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Email Trip Leader(s)
You must be logged in to get the Trip Leader contact information.
Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:16
Minimum Group Size:4
Number Registered So Far: 16 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: Yes


Please read this entire posting before registering for this event - you will be required to have a license/pass to attend this event (see details below). There are also optional activities described in more detail at the end of the itinerary.

Pigeon Mountain is a beautiful plateau just west of the city of La Fayette, Georgia. The mountain is part of the Cumberland Plateau, which stretches from Alabama through Georgia and into Tennessee. The name "Pigeon" comes from the passenger pigeon which once nested here in great numbers and is now extinct.

The Crockford-Pigeon Wildlife Management Area is 16,400 acres and encompasses most of Pigeon Mountain. The area is known for its many caves and geological rock formations, as well as lookouts, waterfalls, wildflowers, and springs. The WMA has nearly 100 miles of various trails designated for hiking, biking, equestrian, or multi-use.

The Crockford-Pigeon WMA is one of many WMAs which require a license or pass for land access. (Please see the notes section for further details on what you will need and options) Prior to starting the event, the trip leaders will verify that each registrant has obtained the proper license/pass.

The Hike:
We will hike along 5 different trails in the area to form loop of approximately 12-13 miles with a total ascent of approximately 2,300 feet. The first part of the hike will be along the Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail located in “The Pocket”. We should be there during blooming of the magnificent wildflowers. This unique area is home to at least a dozen species of flowers which can only be found at this particular location in Georgia, as well as many other specimens which for which you may be familiar. However, you don't have to be an expert to appreciate their beauty.

After reaching the end of the Wildflower Trail, we will arrive at Pocket Falls... a very nice waterfall cascading over a sandstone bluff. There is a small cave behind the waterfall which we will explore.

There is a short rock scramble out of the pocket to get to the next trail, so you should be comfortable with a little rock scrambling. On this next trail we will ascend about 1,400 feet to reach the top of the plateau on Pigeon Mountain. From there we will hike along the rim taking in the view from a few overlooks. We will have lunch at one of these scenic overlooks, which also provides some rock formation exploring opportunities. After a few miles we will then begin our descent down the north side of the mountain on several different trails. We will make a diversion off-trail for a bit until we arrive and at one of the entrances to Ellison Cave, which is one of the deepest caves in the US and has the longest unobstructed pit in the continental US. We won't be doing any serious spelunking (caving), however, some of us may explore a couple hundred feet of the entrance. After leaving Ellison Cave, we will have to travel off-trail for a while until we pick up the next trail down the mountain.

The last portion of our hike will take us along the Estelle Mine Trail, which is, in part, on an old abandoned narrow gauge railway used to transport the iron ore which was mined here in the past. This portion of the hike is very cool and unique as we will go through 4 – 5 tunnels, some well over 100 feet in length. Although you can “see the light at the end of the tunnel” in each of these, it gets pretty dark when inside, – too dark to see the very rocky ground on which you will be falling if you don't bring your headlamp or flashlight!

The following is a Youtube video which shows much of the Estelle Mine Trail, some of “The Pocket”, and “Pocket Falls”. Although the music, by Patty Lovelace, is about coal mining “holler” in KY, the video is of Estelle Mine area.

This is a photo album of a trip Aaron, Jimmy, and I took to Pigeon Mtn during winter.

And a photo album of wildflowers Aaron took for a Roots Rated article (

After your hike the trip leaders will be eating at Pigeon Mountain Grill, just a few miles from the trailhead. If you do not wish to join them make sure you check with your carpool driver/riders prior to departing the carpool.

Optional (non-event) Camping / Activities:
Some of us will be leaving Friday afternoon, camping two nights on top of Pigeon Mountain and staying through Sunday afternoon. You can camp with us Fri, Sat, or both nights. Although the 'official' hike is on Saturday, we're keeping Friday evening, Saturday evening, and all day Sunday with a flexible schedule which can include a Rocktown hike, Nichols Cove Falls, mountain biking, a night hike, a dip in the Blue Hole spring, cave exploration (for those into that), bocce ball, or just relaxing. There's a very wide variety of things to do at C-P. And of course, we will have an awesome bonfire each evening. Hopefully some of you can join us for one or both evenings. If you are interested, please send an email, and we will provide additional details.

Note: This hike is approximately 13 miles, has about 2,300 feet of ascent, has a couple sections of "off-trail" hiking on some steep terrain, and some rock scrambling in one place. Registrants should have recent and solid D4+ hiking experience, or they will be contacted by the TLs to determine if this hike is suitable for their hiking/off-trail/scrambling ability.

Required Items to Bring:
  • Good hiking shoes/boots
  • Headlamp or Flashlight
  • Plenty of water or sports drink
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Sense of adventure
  • A positive attitude
Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.
  • Insect repellant
  • Sun Screen
  • Emergency rain gear
  • Bacon or rice crispy treats

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

Hike Parking/Trailhead Location:

  • 34.7124, -85.3799
  • N34.7124, W085.3799


For those wishing to camp, directions will be provided by email to the campsite on Pigeon Mtn.

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):178Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 8:00 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $71.20 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.



  1. Your Trip Leaders will already be at the event location, so a carpool coordinator for the 'hike only' will be determined sometime after registration opens.
  2. If you will be camping, please put "meet at event" when you register. We will attempt to put people in touch with one another who have similar travel schedules, such that they can arrange carpools if desired.

Pass or License Options: As has been mentioned above, the C-P WMA requires a license/pass for access. There are three options: a Georgia fishing license, a hunting license, or a Land Access Permit. A fishing licese cost $15 for an annual, or $5 for one day. Land Access Permits cost $30 for a year (no short term available). If you plan to hike an any of the 80+ WMAs that require a permit/license in the state, then the annual fishing licese is the most cost effective option. Licenses can be purchased at these locations, or you can get them online.


Optional camping Friday and/or Saturday evening:

If you wish to spend one or two nights camping with us, please send Aaron and Mark an email, and let us know of your plans. At minumum include when you will be arriving/leaving. No reservations or fees are required for camping at C-P, although you will need the same license/pass you obtain for the hike. The camping is primitive as there are no toilets/facilities; however, it's car camping, so you can bring pretty much whatever creature comforts you desire. We will have a nice big bonfire each evening.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.