Pocket Road, 2012

It has been almost 15 years since I lived in Georgia. That seems like such a long time ago. All that time away from where I grew up is one of the things that enabled me to make Jordan’s Journey. If I had stayed in the same place, I don’t think I would have been able to see it with fresh eyes. Growing up, I never thought much about the place I lived. It was just normal. But now that I have such a wide range of experience to contrast it against, that little valley I call home is a beautiful spot. Diverse experiences in life are good. It helps you appreciate the world more because you see the unique beauty in your surroundings. I’m thankful my parents instilled in me an appreciation for travel and exploration.

As beautiful as the Armuchee Valley area is, it’s not exactly where tourists will likely visit. Most of the land is privately owned, much of it going back generations into the area families such as my Pope family. Most people enjoy the area simply by driving along the (officially designated) scenic byways. Just look at the photo I took along Pocket Road earlier this year. Sunset was approaching, and the mountains were bathed in a beautiful curtain of light. You can see how driving along the roads is an attraction in and of itself. In fact, a huge swath of the area around Armuchee Valley is part of the Chattahooche National Forest. While there isn’t much infrastructure to accommodate mainstream tourism, the National Forest does offer some publicly accessible hiking and camping, perfect for those of us with a bit of an adventurous spirit.

Two of the primary areas you can visit are located on Pocket Road. Pocket Road begins just east of the main Villanow crossroads where the old brick country store stands. About 4 miles down this road is the John’s Mountain overlook entrance. A road takes you to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy the view of East Armuchee and West Armuchee beyond that. Beware, though, as it’s an unpaved road–so be prepared for that.

The overlook platform was constructed in 1964 by the Accelerated Public Works Program. The spot where the overlook sits is the former location of the Johns Mountain fire tower. The original tower was built in 1940 by the CCC (see below). A new tower was built in 1961. Grady Richardson (of the Armuchee Valley Richardson family) was the foreman on this construction project (Fearrington 37). It was dismantled in 1979 and donated to the Walker County Correctional Institute. In 1980, the area officially became a recreation area. It was developed by the Youth Conservation Corps (Fearrington 52).

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