Danny Daniel wanted to find a way to transfer his faith to the next generation. He found it at the end of a dirt road in Heard County.
A long time LaGrange lawyer, Daniel discovered the hills with Hillabahatchee Creek about 15 years ago. He and his son, Lyle, spent the next few years building a log cabin, then an open-air chapel in the woods, both overlooking a natural water fall at the creek.
Both the house and the chapel were built not only to be strong, but also to remember. They built the foundation out of rock and some of the beams are from the original First Baptist Church on the Square building, bought during renovations in 1997. The chapel has wood from the church, but also hand-hewn wood salvaged from Daniel’s grandfather’s cotton gin.
Daniel wanted to share the beauty he found in the land, but he also wanted to share the strength of his faith. He forged a trail through the woods, then added a few unexpected characters along the way.
A hand carved bear, a beaver, an owl and an otter dot the trail. Daniel takes time off from his part-time law practice to lead groups through the woods and introduce the animals and their character traits
“It’s mostly for children 6-to-12-years old, but I can adapt it to any group, even adults,” Daniel said. While scouts, homeschoolers and other children’s groups are most common to the trail, he’s also entertained “Red Hat” women and other adult groups.
Along the trail, Daniel and his wife, Margie, introduce the carved animals and talk about their characteristics.
The otter’s character trait is responsibility, demonstrated by the way both mother and father otters take on responsibility for teaching their pups how to swim and catch fish for food. Otters live as a family unit, taking care of each other.
“It’s a way to share this beautiful place and also tell people what’s important to us,” Daniel said.
To schedule a hike at the Hillabahatchee Creek, call Danny and Margie Daniel at 706-882-7987. The hike is about a mile long and takes about an hour. Groups are welcome to bring a lunch to eat and spend time swimming in the creek after the hike.