Our journey here from Crossroads Travel Park in Perry, GA passed without incident. While at McKinney we explored, we ate, we walked, we ate some more, we walked some more and we relaxed.
This federal campground ($15 senior rate for a premium site) is nice but is quite close to Atlanta and attracts a lot of visitors. Even mid-week it was pretty busy here with lot of families, but we think perhaps we hit it during the local spring break. Our impression was that at busy times it will get quite zooish here and it is not all that peaceful with noise from boats, trains and planes, not to mention the camping masses, plus partying at the marinas across the lake. Being an older park there is a lot of variability in the site size and quality and is an iffy choice for big rigs. For example our site was a very scenic “pull-thru” right on the shore, but upon departure we had to back out due to a steep curved slope on the exit end. Even so we enjoyed our stay and watching all the boating activity was entertaining.
The day after our arrival (the morning of April 4th), our first order of business was breakfast so we headed to a nearby restaurant, Daddy’s Country Kitchen in Acworth, GA where we both had two eggs with bacon, homefries and toast for $5.50. Cute place with good food and good service!
After our tummies were full, we proceeded with the next order of business – exploring the nearby Red Top Mountain State Park. Named for the soil’s rich red color (high iron-ore content), Red Top Mountain was once an important mining area for iron. Over 15 miles of hiking trails wind their way through the park, ranging from 1/2 mile to 5-1/2 miles in distance, varying in ratings from easy to moderate while traversing both the woods and the shoreline. Good, maybe we can work off a few of those breakfast calories!
After stopping at the Visitor Center and talking to the ranger, we decided to start with the easy LakesideTrail which was only 3/4 mile in length. Beautiful walk along the shoreline of the lake on a paved trail.
Eventually the trail headed away from the lake towards a pasture where there was a wooden structure, the Summey Casting Shed. This shed is a replica (built in 2004) of one of the nine iron furnaces that operated in Bartow county during the early 1800’s until the iron industry in the area abruptly ended due to the disruption created by the Civil War. Today the furnace is used as part of the park’s iron furnace program, operated several times a year by the staff and a crew of volunteers.
Up the hill and across the way from the furnace was an example of what was known as a “dog trot” cabin, a style of house that was common throughout the Southeastern United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. As explained in the photo on the right, a dog trot house consisted of two log cabins connected by a breezeway or “dogtrot”, all under a common roof. Typically one cabin was used for cooking and dining while the other was used as a private living space, such as a bedroom. This type of style helped the pioneers deal with the intense summertime heat.
Further along the trail was the Jackson Farm Blacksmith Shop. Although the door was locked, through the wooden slats, we could see some of the equipment that would be used by the blacksmith. Demos are given here as part of the parks program.
While walking we had fired up our geocaching app but the cell signal was poor. Finally success as we got closer to the Visitor Center – we learned that there was a hidden treasure nearby. Eureka! We found it!
After stopping at the Visitor Center to look at their displays, we decided to take a ride around the park. Just as a note, besides all the hiking trails, the park offers accommodations at a 92 room lodge with a restaurant, 18 cabins and a campground with 92 (electric only) sites, several boat ramps and a marina.
After touring the park, we headed over to Acworth for a late lunch/early dinner at Chef Henry’s Louisiana Grill. At the recommendation of our waiter we each ended up with a half order of one of their signature dishes – Louisiana Ooh La La (doesn’t that title sound naughty) with a choice of shrimp, oysters (what we both had) or crawfish, flash fried and tossed with tasso, spinach and roasted garlic in Henry’s Cajun cream sauce served over angel hair which came with a Caesar salad (what we had) or house salad. It was delicious but oh so rich! Between the bread, cornbread and salads, leftovers made their way on the menu the next day! Now I understand why Chef Henry (and this dish) won the “ABC Nightline People’s Platelist” in 2010.
The next morning we would be Nashville bound! Stay tuned.