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Easy Nature Hike with Ranger & Author Jonah McDonald, celebrating the Chinese New Year!

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: Mason Mill Park in NE Atlanta, near Clairmont Rd & I-85   Hike: Easy Nature Hike with Ranger & Author Jonah McDonald, celebrating the Chinese New Year!  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Jan 25 2020  12:45 pm >> Sat, Jan 25 2020 3:00 pm
Registration Opens: Wed, Jan 22 2020 12:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Sat, Jan 25 2020 9:00 am
Event Duration:2 Hours 15 Minutes
Difficulty Rating:D1: Easy
Distance:3 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Charlie Cottingham
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:15
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 15 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


IN a NUTSHELL:   Sunny rain-free weather in the high 40s is expected this Saturday afternoon.  Hope you can join us for this special free "Herbalist Walk & Learn" event at beautiful Mason Mill Park hosted by our friend Jonah McDonald and his colleague, Leslie Williams.  Jonah's popular guidebook, "Hiking Atlanta's Hidden Forests," has become one of our favorite guides to the dozens of wonderful parks and trails in and around metro Atlanta.  Since Jan 2019 he has served as a park ranger with the DeKalb County Parks & Recreation Dept, and has done an amazing job interacting with Mason Mill visitors and overseeing the protection and improvement of the Park's forest ecosystems and trails.  Jonah offers a wide variety of free outdoor events including guided nature hikes, "volunteer day" projects, and festive campfire gatherings complete with whimsical nature stories and s'mores!

DESCRIPTION of the EVENT DETAILS excerpted from Jonah's public invitation:   You're invited to join us on this first day of the 2020 Chinese New Year to connect with nature and learn to see Mason Mill Park through the eyes of an herbalist, Leslie Williams.  We'll walk through the forest together, focusing on the plants of late winter, and Leslie will introduce us to their medicinal uses.  This moderately paced walk will last around 2 hours and cover 2 to 3 miles over a variety of hiking trails ranging from narrow wooded paths to the Park's wide "PATH" boardwalks & paved trails.  Dress for the weather, bring a refillable water bottle, and hiking sticks if you have/ need them.  Nature fans of all ages are welcome!

OUR AOC GROUP WILL GATHER at 12:45 PM just inside the Mason Mill Park entrance (by the stone restroom building and kids' playground - see detailed Directions & free Parking instructions below).  After AOC introductions we'll walk together to the nearby "PATH Trailhead" (at other end of the parking lot by the Tennis Center) where at 1:00 PM we'll be greeted by Jonah & Leslie and other participants from the general public. We expect to be back at the cars by about 3:00 PM.  If you need to "split" early from the group that's OK, but be sure to let me (Charlie) know if and when you do so.  It should be easy to direct you back to the parking lot.

Ranger Jonah hosting a recent Nature Walk:

FOR a COLOR MAP of the SOUTH PEACHTREE CREEK "PATH" TRAIL and how it interconnects Mason Mill & Medlock Park with Emory's Lullwater Park, Ira Melton Park and other DeKalb County green space, click this link:

Required Items to Bring:

• Wear comfortable well-broken-in Athletic Shoes or Hiking Boots and Lightweight Clothing appropriate for the weather.

• Hydrate in advance and consider carrying in a light Daypack or Fanny Pack your filled Water Bottle or your "Camelbak" or bladder-fed hydration system - also perhaps pack a light Snack.

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

• Consider bringing and using a Hiking Stick or Trekking Pole(s).

• Your Camera or Cell Phone for various photo-ops & video-ops along the way!

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

FROM the I-85 CLAIRMONT ROAD EXIT in NE METRO ATLANTA to our MASON MILL PARK Gathering Spot:   (For a zoomable color MAP and satellite view of this spot and its vicinity click the square blue & green "Event Location" icon near the top of this article.)

1. From the I-85 "Clairmont Road" Exit (Exit #91) in NE Atlanta take Clairmont Rd southward (toward Decatur) about 2.3 miles to the traffic light at McConnell Drive.  (This is the next light south of the big Clairmont/ North Druid Hills intersection.  If you reach the huge VA Hospital you've gone a couple of blocks too far!)

2. Turn Left onto McConnell Drive, go just 0.1 mile, and turn Right at the stop sign to stay on McConnell. 
(Note the small "Mason Mill" directional sign here.)

3. Then turn Left almost immediately at the
 "Mason Mill Park" entrance sign into the large free parking lot.  We'll gather by the stone Restroom building near the Park entrance, adjoining the kids' playground.

GPS & USERS:  Feel free to augment my above verbal directions by entering as your Destination Address these concise Lat/Lon coordinates for our gathering spot, being sure to include the comma & minus sign:  33.8080, -84.3066


MORE ABOUT MASON MILL and its adjoining PARKS & TRAILS:  DeKalb County's Mason Mill Park conveniently interconnects with nearby Medlock Park (and now also with Ira Melton Park and Emory's Lullwater Park) via a network of shady trails and multi-million-dollar forest canopy boardwalks (like the one in the photo above).  The South Peachtree Creek "PATH" Trail is the main artery through this 100+ -acre multi-park corridor, and like NW Atlanta's Silver Comet Trail conforms to the high standards of Atlanta's nonprofit PATH Foundation.  Branching from it are several miles of ruggedly scenic narrower paths and trails, many which adjoin the banks of "South Fork Peachtree Creek" and its sinuous tributaries - notably Burnt Fork Creek and Glen Creek.  An impressive section of the main PATH trail traverses the railroad track via a 3-story wooden deck & walkway.  Here hikers and bikers are treated to aerial views of the restored ruins of the historic early-20th-Century Decatur Waterworks.  The highest portion of the deck has proven to be dark enough for urban "skygazing"  events - i.e, viewing the stars & planets, sunsets, moonrises, eclipses, meteor showers, etc.  From the creek bank beside this high deck it's easy (at normal water levels) to access Ira Melton Park and its white-blazed loop trail, etc. by walking across the creek on huge stepping stones.  In 2017 a beautiful new forest-canopy boardwalk extension of the PATH Trail opened between the DeKalb Tennis Center at Mason Mill and North Druid Hills Road, and became an instant AOC favorite. Then in 2018 a similar "double-wide" PATH spur trail & boardwalk was completed that makes it easy to hike safely from Mason Mill to the Lullwater Park trail system at Emory (via a "hiker-biker underpass" under Clairmont Rd near the VA Hospital).   The 28-acre Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve is a fourth pretty DeKalb County park whose trail network and wooded wetlands are easy to reach on foot from Medlock Park (by walking ~15 minutes eastward via Gaylemont Circle & Wood Trail Lane).

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

Cost Includes:

Free Event with Free Parking!

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