Limestone bluff and rocks in the forest at Black's Bluff Preserve, Georgia
Black's Bluff Preserve Limestone bluff and rocks in the forest at Black's Bluff Preserve, Georgia © Byron Jorjorian

Places We Protect

Black's Bluff Preserve

Georgia

A steep mountainous outcrop of 500-million-year-old Conasauga limestone creates the perfect place for unique plants to thrive.

Imagine a rock garden filled with rare and unusual plants, but this one is on a massive scale, encompassing 263 acres, and it’s on the side of a mountain. That’s Black’s Bluff Preserve, an area of exceptional botanical diversity that begins along the east bank of the Coosa River, near Rome, and moves upslope over boulders, cliffs and caves to some 880 feet above sea level.

The rich biodiversity of Black’s Bluff was documented by botanists in the 19th century who worked at George Vanderbilt’s extraordinary gardens at Biltmore Estate in North Carolina when they ranged out to learn about the plants of the southeast.  What they called the “Cliffs of the Coosa,” and what remains today, is an area of immense rock outcrops and lime-rich soil located on the cool, moist north face of Walker Mountain where uncommon plants thrive.

The Nature Conservancy works to secure and maintain the long-term health and integrity of Black’s Bluff while working with a diverse group of local, state, and private groups including Floyd County, Forestar Inc., and the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance. Volunteers help maintain the two trails through the preserve, each of which is about a quarter-mile long.

Among The Nature Conservancy’s concerns for the area is continued industrial and residential development near the preserve, encroachment of nonnative species, and misuse of the preserve including cave exploring and disturbing sensitive plant areas off the trails. The Conservancy works to monitor and augment plant populations and uses prescribed burns to restore upland forests and reduce populations of invasive species.

Animals At Risk

  • Cave-dwelling bats
  • Cave salamander
  • Spring-run mollusk community

Plants at Risk

  • Georgia rockcress
  • Large-flowered skullcap
  • Limerock arrowwood
  • Three-flowered hawthorne

Ecosystems at Risk

  • Limestone-influenced moist hardwood forest (north aspect)
  • Dry acidic pine-hardwood woodland

If You Go

Black’s Bluff is open to the public during daylight hours without a reservation. To walk the trails at Black's Bluff, drive a little southwest of the (entirely inactive) quarries. There is a trail to the spring, unmarked at the road, but it's the last cable gate on the left before our property ends. You'll know you're in the right place because the big wooden "Welcome to Black’s Bluff Preserve" sign is about 20 yards down that trail, although it's difficult to see from the road. Once again, beware of fast traffic, and park beside the cable gate parallel to Black's Bluff Road with all your wheels off the road. If you pull straight down to the gate, you risk getting stuck on slick clay. Not ADA accessible.

The public trail, Spring Trail, will take you to the spring pools. It is moderately difficult and begins just beyond the preserve sign. This can be walked as a loop, if you return to your car via the road—beware of fast traffic—or you can return along the same trail.

For those interested in hands-on volunteer opportunities at this preserve, please check for work party dates