The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain – Fee Area

UPDATE 07/12/2017: Effective the first of July, there have been changes to the fee structure:

  • GORP has been replaced with a “Lands Pass”. This is $30 per year for an individual resident of Georgia, $60 for a non-resident.
  • There is no longer a small group pass. Each eligible party must have their own pass.
  • While those under the age of 16 do not need a pass, folks over 65 are no longer free. They must have a pass/license.
  • If you’re over 65 and a resident of Georgia, it is more cost-effective to get a Senior Sportsman’s License than a Lands Pass, since there is no senior discount for a Lands Pass. Get this: A 1-yr Sr. Sportsman’s License costs $7.  Or (figure this one out) if you’re over 65 and a Georgia resident you can get a Lifetime Sportsman’s License  for free for a lifetime, and it will let you fish, and if you take a hunting safety course ($28) hunt.

Original post from 1/30/2012:

I’d been looking for an opportunity to head down to The Pocket to photograph the the leaves of Aplectrum hyemale, which are withered or entirely gone by bloom time in early May.  Sunday was a beautiful day, so I headed out after our family lunch for the 20-mile drive.  While I was a couple of months late for fresh leaves, it was still a trip of discovery – I discovered that the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area is now a fee area.

Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area by USWildflowers, on Flickr

Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area is now a fee area.

This wasn’t a complete surprise; nor is it entirely a disappointment for me.  I’d read and heard rumbling about this for a few months.  As everyone knows, governmental (and most personal) budgets are strained, and monitoring and road maintenance expenses for this very large wildlife management area continue to rise.  As I understand it, most of the funding for these areas has come from hunting and fishing licenses.  The folks who hunt and fish were saying, with some justification, “Why should the non-hunters get to use these areas without sharing in their cost?”  While arguably hunting and fishing on these properties is more “expensive” than wandering around taking photographs of wildflowers, road, parking area, and trail maintenance is still an expense, and I have to agree that those of us that use the facilities should help pay the costs.

Another advantage of this fee decision is that it may lead to a lower impact on some sensitive areas.  There will likely be fewer visitors to areas such as The Pocket, fewer feet trampling on some of the sensitive areas, and certainly fewer cars impacting some difficult-to-maintain roads.

My personal preference was that the high-use parking (The Pocket, several spelunking areas, Rocktown) and camping areas be brought into the state park system, with fee collection handled similarly to the remote parking areas in state parks, requiring a fee receipt or a Georgia Park Pass to be displayed, but continuing to allow non-fee access for driving through WMA and roadside parking in some of the low-use areas.  That would allow those of us who purchase a Georgia Park Pass to be able to visit the state parks as well as the Wildlife Management Areas, all for the $50 cost of the state park pass.

That is moot, however, as the fee structure has now been determined.  If you are ages 16 to 64 and planning on visiting The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain or the other excellent wildflower sites on Pigeon Mountain, or for that matter if you are planning on enjoying any of the great recreational opportunities on Pigeon Mountain, you’ll need to make sure that you have one of the several fees paid and are carrying your license.  Maureen from Alabama pointed out in her comment below that those age 15 or younger, and those 65 and older are not required to obtain a license.

While this is not an exhaustive list of the options, these are noteworthy:

  • A 3-day hunting or fishing license – $3.50
  • Individual 3-day Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass (GORP) – $3.50
  • Individual annual GORP – $19
  • Small Group (up to 8 people in a single vehicle) 3-day GORP – $10
  • Small Group Annual GORP – $35

I chose the Small Group Annual GORP because I make many trips a year into the WMA, and I am frequently joined by my wife and grandchildren.  The 3-day Small Group GORP may make sense for those folks who visit with groups during the wildflower season.  These licenses can be purchased online at georgiawildlife.com, be aware that there is a $2.50 “convenience fee” added to the license fee for online purchases.   If you have a larger group going to visit The Pocket, you can discuss access options with the Regional Game Management office.

Oh, as for the Aplectrum hyemale that I went to check on –

 

Puttyroot Orchid - Aplectrum Hyemale by USWildflowers, on Flickr

Puttyroot Orchid Winter Leaves – Aplectrum Hyemale

(g)

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16 thoughts on “The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain – Fee Area

  1. maureen

    Thank you for providing this very valuable bit of info. I drive over from Birmingham AL in the spring once or twice a year and would be very aggravated if I couldn’t get in.
    May I suggest that you add the info that only individuals between age 16 and 64 need obtain a pass?
    Thank you,

    Maureen

    Reply
      1. Gerry Post author

        One of the four or five designated camping areas in Crockford-Pigeon Mountain WMA is at The Pocket above the falls – a walk of about 1/4 mile from the parking area. The other three campgrounds (one has two entrances and the roads don’t meet, so that may be considered two, although the “designated area” is all one fairly large area) are drive-up.

  2. Jennifer Ware

    The last time we tried to get to the waterfall from the Pocket there were several trees down and the dirt path was almost obliterated in areas making it impossible for us to get there. Has anything been done to fix this do you know before I pay my $35? I’d like to know I can get to the falls before I get there!

    Thanks,

    Jennifer

    Reply
  3. Gerry Post author

    Jennifer –
    My wife and I just returned from a visit to The Pocket today, and were readily able to get up to the falls. There are a few trees down across the trail and you need to step/climb over their trunks, and in one place the trail now climbs up the hill a ways to cross over the downed tree trunk; I imagine that will be quite slippery when wet. There are also two places in the boardwalk where trees have been blown down and you need to take a big step to get on to the remainder of the walk.
    gcw

    Reply
  4. Maureen

    Apologize for the belated “You’re welcome.” Been “out of pocket” lately and haven’t checked here lately..
    I’m bringing over a small group on March 9. Hope the weather stays relatively calm, so no more damage to the area will occur. Thank you for keeping us current on Pocket things. A good work you do.

    Reply
  5. Johnnie Arnett

    Love the pocket, go about 3 or 4 times a season, live in Cleveland, TN, was going this afternoon, can I go and pay there, or do I need to buy pass ahead of time?

    Thanks,
    Johnnie Arnett
    423-479-1433

    Reply
    1. Gerry Post author

      There is no facility to pay at The Pocket. You can purchase your license online, or I think anywhere that sells Georgia hunting licenses (but not sure of that.)

      Reply
  6. Pingback: #Waterfalls and #Wildflowers – The Pocket – an Early Spring? 02/04/2013 @ USWildflowers.com Journal

    1. Gerry Post author

      Since the blue hole is within the WMA, I presume that technically you are supposed to pay the day use fee to use that area. I think there is a “Fee Area” sign at the start of the Blue Hole Road.

      Reply
  7. Trecia Neal

    Just visited the Pocket for the first, but certainly NOT the last time last weekend after finding your website (thank you SO much btw). I am frustrated that there is a sign saying this is a fee area, and am happy to pay a fee for this incredible place, but that there is no place to drop in any money. What is the point of making this a fee area if they don’t have the slips for you to put cash in? I realize you don’t have any control over this, but maybe you have connections and can ask them to add this feature. I’d vote with you that my Georgia Park pass should cover this, I don’t understand why it doesn’t.

    Reply
    1. Gerry Post author

      I agree, Trecia, it would make sense to have a GORP pay station at The Pocket, at each campground, and at the Rocktown trailhead. I suspect they might be afraid of vandalism of the pay station, since the WMA (under Georgia DNR) isn’t staffed at the level of a state park – they probably couldn’t get around daily to collect the fees. Since I spend a lot of time in the Crockford Pigeon Mountain WMA, and I take spouse and grandkids with me regularly, I go ahead and renew my annual small-group GORP each year, but there are many folks who simply make a single trip or two to The Pocket each year – these folks would probably, like you, be happy to drop a fee into a collection post.

      Reply

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