Hike highlights Oaky Woods’ unique history

wcrenshaw@macon.comFebruary 22, 2014 

KATHLEEN -- Many people were outraged when developers were planning to turn Oaky Woods into a massive residential area, but now that the state owns it, few people actually visit it.

Outdoors writer John Trussell, who led the effort to save Oaky Woods Wildlife Management Area, hopes to change that.

On Saturday he led his second annual hiking tour on the site, and he is working on a effort to establish two nature trails.

Currently, about the only people who use the site are hunters, but Trussell said anyone can hike on the property.

“Many of the people who were the most vocal to save it have never been here,” Trussell said as he drove down a dirt road to the starting point of the hike.

The hike highlighted the area’s unique history, particularly the fact that millions of years ago it was the bottom of an ocean.

All throughout the woods where the hikers went were rocks embedded with sea shells. Hikers also saw a hill that had once been a coral reef, as well as the remnants of a moonshine still.

About 40 people went on the hike, including 15 students from Kings Chapel Elementary School in Perry. The students are part of a school club called Friends for Change, which emphasizing caring for the environment, said Ginny Caban, a music teacher who started the club.

“It was fantastic, getting the kids in nature,” she said after the hike. “Some, like me, are city kids and have never experienced nature first hand like this. I think some of them will remember this the rest of their lives.”

Laycee Wharam, a third-grader, said she learned a lot.

“The most interesting thing is knowing this was covered in water a long, long time ago,” she said.

Trussell also showed remnants of farming activity in the area before it turned into a forest, including rock piles and berms made by farmers.

The moonshine still, Trussell said, likely operated in the early 1900s. The large boiler is still there, with its sides expanded out from when federal agents blew it up.

While Saturday’s hike was advertised for the general public, Trussell -- founder of Save Oaky Woods -- does hikes throughout the year for large groups on request. For more information, visit www.saveoakywoods.com.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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