Waterfalls cascade down moss covered rocks.
Broxton Rocks Preserve in Georgia © Nate Thomas

Places We Protect

Broxton Rocks Preserve

Georgia

Ancient rock and whispering wiregrass create an alluring and mysterious site in an unlikely place.

A roaring waterfall rushing over rock ledges, cave-like crevices and 30-foot-high cliffs aren’t what normally come to mind when you think about Georgia’s coastal plain, but Broxton Rocks Preserve isn’t just any place. 

Unique elements make it both a sought-after place to experience (visitors from all over the country and internationally routinely fill tours) and a fragile environment in need of protection and conservation. The Nature Conservancy’s work preserves the site for the future while enabling more people to experience its magic today.

Ages ago, part of the 15,000 square mile band of sandstone running under this flat coastal part of Georgia was exposed by erosion. Combined with the roaring water of Rocky Creek, a tributary of the Ocmulgee River, and the steady effects of weathering, an environmental anomaly was created, a place where a network of fissures, cliffs and crevices stay cool and moist, juxtaposed with almost desert-like conditions on flat rocks above the fissures.

While this is enough to make Broxton Rocks a site worth seeing, there’s more. Plant life abounds, some not normally found in the coastal region and some growing in unusual ways. Green-fly orchids, for example, which grow on trees, adorn the rock walls at Broxton Rocks.

Located in southeast Georgia in rural Coffee County (population 37,500), the Conservancy’s Broxton Rocks Preserve is 125 miles from Jacksonville, Florida and about 170 miles from Atlanta. An important site for as long as people have inhabited the area – there is evidence of Paleo-Indian people to early European settlers – even today Broxton Rocks is a special place. Every Easter Sunday residents of the area gather at what is often referred to as the “falling waters,” carrying on a century-old tradition.

The preserve’s 1,650 acres is part of the larger Broxton Rocks Conservation Area which is protected and managed by the collective efforts of The Nature Conservancy, local landowners, Coffee County, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Forestry Commission and other partners.

Management at Broxton Rocks includes controlled burns in the winter, spring and early summer, critical to maintaining natural plant and animal communities. We plant longleaf pines, wiregrass and other native herbs to restore natural diversity. We also remove non-native invasive plants and animals where needed, such as chinaberry, Japanese climbing fern, and feral hogs. Our long-term vision is to see most of Broxton Rocks entirely in natural, mature pine woodland by the middle of the 21st century.

Animals At Risk
  • Eastern indigo snake
  • Gopher tortoise
  • Eastern diamondback
Plants at Risk
  • Grit portulaca
  • Feather-leaf penstemon
  • Pineland Barbara-buttons
  • Yellow flytrap
  • Hooded pitcherplant
  • Wire-leaf dropseed 
Ecosystems at Risk
  • Altamaha grit-influenced longleaf pine-wiregrass sandhill
  • Altamaha grit outcrop complex
  • Pitcherplant bog
If You Go
  • Broxton Rocks is open by appointment only with a few exceptions:
  • A one-mile trail from the preserve gate to the falls is open to the public June – August. The forest area along the trail is being restored to longleaf pine and wiregrass.
  • The preserve is open to the public Easter Sunday and for select tour and work party dates.
  • When you arrive, you will park near the kiosk being careful not to block the gate. There is a trail at the kiosk that leads you on a one mile walk to the falls. There are no restrooms, so please plan accordingly.
  • The trail is not stroller friendly as it is not ADA equipped.
What you will see
  • Sandstone outcrops and blackwater streams along Rocky Creek, rolling longleaf pine-wiregrass woodlands, and pitcherplant seepage bogs.
  • The rocks and crevices and supported plant communities are fragile and vulnerable to foot traffic so visitation is limited. The rocky areas can be dangerous for inexperienced hikers. However, The Nature Conservancy’s work is helping open the area to greater visitation in the near future so that more Georgians, and visitors from around the nation and world, can appreciate this special place.
Plants

More than 525 species of plants have been identified in the area, some rarely found so far south. Twenty-two of the site’s species are considered rare, including the largest and only protected populations of a rare succulent herb, grit portulaca, an otherwise Cuban species.

Contact

To sign up for a tour or for information about visiting Broxton Rocks, please by call (404) 873-6946 or email tncgeorgia@tnc.org