If you have never been it is definitely worth the short drive east to see first hand the beauty of nature on display at The Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve. Now open for the 2022 bloom season, Wolf Creek is a 140-acre conservation area located on Wolf Creek Road, just off US Highway 84 between Whigham and Cairo.
Each Dimpled Trout Lily flower opens in late morning or early afternoon, follows the sun, and closes at dusk, so to see the open flowers come visit in the afternoon. If it is raining heavily or very dark and cloudy in the morning, the flowers may stay closed. If there has been significant rain, the front gate may be closed but a walk around is available for visitors.
Each individual flower re-opens for several days, with overall numbers of flowers in bloom beginning gradually, increasing, peaking, then declining over the course of a few weeks. Depending on the Winter weather the overall bloom may be anywhere from three or four weeks long, usually throughout February, rarely into March. Other Spring ephemerals you may see include Spotted Trillium, Spring Coralroot, Southern Twayblade Orchid, Green Fly Orchid (blooms later), Bloodroot, and Jack-In-the-Pulpit.
All trails are marked with colored tape and signage is visible along all the trails. The Primary Trail highlights the best views of the Trout Lily. It makes a loop on either side down a slope, onto the Lower Trail, which carries you to a view of Wolf Creek, then continues uphill to the Upper Trail or where the visitor can exit out to the service road and back to the parking area. The Upper Trail offers overlook views, tiny Twayblade Orchids, Bloodroot, and several other plants of interest. There is an Orchid Loop, off the primary trail to the left as you go down slope, with two species of orchid plants, which are visible but may not be blooming. The Orchid Loop ends at the bottom of the Primary Trail. Visitors may walk on the South Trail on the backside of the parking area towards Trillium Creek. This is a fairly open area with some large patches of Trillium and Rain Lilies (not blooming yet), but very few Trout Lilies.
The Trout Lilies grow on a slope, so visitors need to wear boots or shoes WITH TREADS that may get damp or muddy. Bring a walking stick if desired. We offer Sparkleberry walking sticks for visitor use. You can borrow one or purchase one with a $10 donation. The trails may be slippery when wet, so please proceed with caution. There is minimal access for people using wheelchairs or with limited mobility who cannot complete a walk of several hundred yards on a slope. If you have minor limitations, our Upper Trail will provide all the magic you would expect.
There is a parking area inside the gate. Vehicles are not allowed on the property beyond the designated parking area. The following are prohibited at Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve – cutting or removal of any plants, leaving trash, and pets on any trail, other than service animals. Visitors are asked to sign in either with the volunteer greeters or on the sign-in sheet at the kiosk.
The Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve was the recipient of a 2021 DNR Wildlife Viewing Grant. Three new benches have been installed along the trails and built by John David Bell of Whigham, as part of his Eagle Scout project. QR code signage that provides additional information on several topic areas has also been added. The signs are placed throughout the preserve.
The preserve is home to the largest and most concentrated known occurrence of the yellow Dimpled Trout Lilies, over 10 acres with millions of plants.
Also present are other rare and interesting wildflowers, including thousands of deep maroon Spotted Trillium. This property has been permanently conserved since 2009 by the Grady County Board of Commissioners through a grant from the Georgia Land Conservation Program and the generous donations of the former owners, nature groups, and many interested citizens.
Preserve officials invite both old and new friends to come enjoy the magic of the preserve.
Additional information will be announced on the preserve’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/wolfcreektroutlilypreserve/ and its website www.wolfcreektroutlilypreserve.org.
The name “trout lily” comes from the plant’s mottled leaves, which look like the markings on brook trout. It is also known as the dogtooth violet or adder’s tongue. Some trout lily colonies are 200 to 300 years old. Trout lily leaves and bulbs were once eaten for medicinal purposes as a contraceptive.