This is the Merlin's grass pool, surrounded by quillwort — a federally endangered plant endemic to GA and related to ferns.
Heggie's Rock Preserve This is the Merlin's grass pool, surrounded by quillwort — a federally endangered plant endemic to GA and related to ferns. © Alan Cressler

Places We Protect

Heggie's Rock Preserve

Georgia

Surreal "dish gardens" — or shallow pools — support rare plants on a giant, dome-shaped granite outcrop that rises above the neighboring creeks.

Overview

There’s no denying Heggie’s Rock is unusual. It happens to be one of the finest remaining examples of a Piedmont flat rock outcrop. But even that description doesn’t capture what it’s like to come upon a 130-acre rock outcrop rising about 70 feet above neighboring Benton Branch and Little Kiokee Creek. It is so exceptional that in 1980 it was designated as a National Natural Landmark.

Heggie’s Rock Preserve spans some 101 acres in Columbia County, about 20 miles from Augusta in eastern Georgia. The preserve is near Little Kiokee Creek which joins the Savannah River about eight miles downstream from the preserve. While the preserve includes a perimeter forest of oaks, pines and hickories, it is the granite outcrop, Heggie’s Rock, which dominates. It is here you see exposed granite, lichen and moss covered rock, soil islands and the beautiful vernal pools, or dish gardens, which support rare and unusual plants, and capture the imagination.

The preserve is noted for its unusually high diversity of plant and animal life because it includes the dry outcrop, forests and beaver-impounded streams.

Over the years, forward thinking individuals, industry and local governments have ensured that Heggie’s Rock was protected. With Heggie’s Rock Preserve, The Nature Conservancy is furthering that goal by working with private groups, volunteers and state and local agencies to monitor the rare plants on the site, eradicate non-native invasive species and protect it from excessive erosion. Development from the rapidly growing Augusta area and nearby Fort Gordon means the site has become vulnerable to unsupervised use. The Nature Conservancy is working to educate the community about the preserve and encouraging supervised tours to showcase this natural wonder.