When I decided to take up hiking for health and recreation reasons, I knew I would start close to home. I have lived within 40 miles of James H. “Sloppy” Floyd Park in Chattooga County, Georgia most of my life. I thought about going there numerous times and checking it out. It was not until it seemed as if everyone was discovering this hidden gem that I decided it was time for my husband and stepdaughter to make the hike to the infamous Marble Mine.
When we first arrived, I was stunned by the beauty of the place. The banks of the large lake were full of people with fishing poles hoping to catch a big one. Families were having picnics while some were hiking on the park’s many trails. And some were on paddle boats or in canoes in the water.
We were there to hike to the old marble mine. I am still getting my footing when it comes to hiking. I mistakenly thought this was rated as an “easy” hike. It’s rated moderate and it was probably complicated by some large rocks on the trail due to washouts. Since we walked from the main lake to the trail, we probably did more than the 0.8 miles, which is the approximate distance from the end of the trail to the marble mine. The hike up has several hills. I was thankful I had been “practiced” on some smaller trails near home. We had to avoid the rocky places and dips in the terrain.
The views on the hike are spectacular. You can see some remnants on buildings that once stood there. You can even take a picnic up if you want as there is a table located about halfway. We also saw some tents a few hundred feet off the trail.
Despite the challenges it presented for a middle-age, out-of-shape woman, the end was worth it. The marble mine had a small waterfall trickling down into a pool of water. It was cool there and we stopped to catch our breath on the benches provided. Some brave souls ventured into the cave nearby. The verdict— “It just keeps going.”
The hike back down was just as challenging even though it was mostly downhill. We had arrived shortly before lunch on a Saturday and there were not many people on the trail. We had to step aside for newly-arrived hikers which was difficult at times due to the rocks on the trail.
This is a great hike for families and we saw many children with their parents on our trip. I wouldn’t recommend this hike to anyone who needs assistance walking. But if you are able—Go! The mine is worth seeing. You can also hike the other trails.
James H. “Sloppy” Floyd Park is a great place to spend a day. The only charge is a $5 parking fee. You will find snacks and drinks at the park’s office or you can bring your own. We will be back!
Getting there: The park is located north of Summerville just off U.S. 27. Turn down Sloppy Floyd Lake Road and you can’t miss it.
Cost: There is a $5 parking pass fee unless you have a Georgia State Parks pass.
What’s there: You can fish on the lake or rent canoes or paddle boats. There are plenty of shaded tables for a family picnic. You will find hiking trails for all ages and skill levels. Of course, we recommend the hike to Marble Mine. The park also has several cottages for rent.