Cheap Field Trips # 3
What’s lush, girded, roaring and peaceful all at the same time? Well, it’d have to be the Bob Callan Trail, of course.
If you’re up for an interesting twist on nature, take a walk down the Bob Callan. It’s in the middle of where you are and it’s totally free! The trail traverses the region at the convergence of Interstate 285, Interstate 75, Cumberland, Akers Mill Road, Rottenwood Creek and the Chattahoochee River. Remarkably, this diverse trail abounds with natural, architectural, and urban fascination.
I discovered the trail when I saw a news article featuring a man traversing a newly paved concrete path beneath I-285. What’s this? Something natural under the Cumberland Connector? We’ve got our next cheap trip adventure right here.
Thankfully, my youngest is usually game for an adventure, so off we went.
First, literally, the biggest challenge was to find it! The whole place around there is under construction. I circled the area for about 20 minutes looking for an access point. Finally, we gave up, parked in an office parking lot, and hopped over a silk EPA fence and into the trail. Hopefully, by the time you read this the trail head parking will have opened. Here’s what came up on Google Maps:
Wide and paved, the trail is a fascinating confluence of highly engineered highways and disordered woodlands. The trail seems to refill dead zones that were inaccessible when the highways came. As my husband says,” I’ve spent all my time above. Walking the trail gave me a sense of what’s beneath.” There’s a hidden treasure down under the concrete canopy. God’s art meets Man’s Art. The man-made stuff obstructs; but nature finds its way around. The trail gives you a glimpse into this battle that rages on beneath the thoroughfare, between the natural and the man-made. In some places, the man-made is winning the battle; but, as you walk along, you see that nature is winning the war. Little pockets of handsome purple flowers push up at the trail’s beginning. A large mill-stone, broken in half by time and wear, is exposed in the creek bed. A tree busts through a concrete retaining wall. You know that over time, if left alone, nature would reclaim this strip of land back to its own quiet customs.
In the meantime, until the apocalypse, there is a great deal of symmetry and concrete to appreciate.
We stopped frequently, taking in the splendor of a building’s reflection in the water or the feel of cold, steel bridge I-beams. Eventually we advanced past all the bridges, railings, graffiti, and traffic sounds to the place where Rottenwood Creek deposits itself into the Chattahoochee River. Even here, the mouth of the creek was buttressed with a concrete hedge. Yet, the water softened the view and made for a lovely sound as it spilled over into the river.
I looked at my phone while we listened to the water spill into the Hooch! Where had the time gone? We’d lost an hour here beneath the concrete canopy. Time to head back.
This place impacted me in a bizarre and wonderful way. Now I think about that trail and the nature going on there every time we drive over the top. I can hear the rushing water under the bridges. The image of my son dwarfed by the massive concrete wall, his colorful clothes contrasting against the grey, stays strong in the back of my mind.
This trip revealed that there are beautiful, natural places to visit in and around our concrete city. I’d say “The Bob” is a good destination in and of itself. But, its also a good stop over place to take a lunch or traffic break and well worth the effort to find. We’ll be back for sure.