Looking upward into the canopy of southern old-growth forest in Marshall Forest Preserve, Rome, Georgia.
ALL RIGHTS GA CHAPTER. View looking upward into the canopy of southern old growth forest, Marshall Forest Preserve, Georgia. © © Byron Jorjorian

Places We Protect

Marshall Forest Preserve

Georgia

Marshall Forest Preserve has one of the last stands of old-growth pine-hardwood timber in northwest Georgia.

Once part of the Cherokee Nation’s lands, Marshall Forest covers 301 acres of pine-hardwood forest in Floyd County, near Rome in northwest Georgia. The site is one of the last remaining stands of old-growth forest in the Ridge and Valley Province, a geographical corridor that runs from Pennsylvania to Alabama. Ranging in elevation from 600-900 feet, the site is home to over 300 species of plants and 55 tree species in 3 distinct plant communities: pine-oak, chestnut oak, and mixed hardwood forest. It is thought that periodic ice storms (like the 1993 blizzard) and fires open the canopy for pine growth, preventing domination by a single plant community.

The forest is home to the largest population in Georgia of the endangered large-flowered skullcap, a perennial herb in the mint family. Also found in the Black’s Bluff preserve, the large-flowered skullcap was discovered by Alvin Wentworth Chapman, a physician and botanist who explored the mountains near Rome in the 1870s. The site is also home to a wealth of fauna, including frogs, salamanders, at least six species of snake, and dozens of bird species.

Marshall Forest was the first National Natural Landmark in Georgia, designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1966. Currently the Conservancy participates in the Alternative Spring Break program, through which college students from across the country volunteer to assist nonprofit organization. At the Marshall Forest Preserve, they aid the Conservancy by removing invasive species like English Ivy and Chinese privet, marking boundaries, and participating in other management activities.

Plants at Risk

  • Large-flowered skullcap

Ecosystems at Risk

  • Lowland shortleaf pine-hardwood forest (old-growth)
  • Montane longleaf pine-hardwood forest

 

If You Go

Marshall Forest is open to the public during daylight hours without a reservation.

The Big Pine Braille Trail offers interpretive braille signs. This preserve also offers a short trail that has been improved for wheelchair access (gravel surface). The trail can be navigated by most wheelchairs with wide tires.