Last week, I mentioned the Hightower Trail as part of the story of a 1930s summer home along Spalding Drive. It’s been a long time since I’ve written about the history of the Hightower Trail and even longer since Jim Perkins mapped out the path of the Native American trail between Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and the Chattahoochee River.
In 1994 and 1995, Perkins researched modern-day maps that still showed the trail. Perkins worked with illustrator and mapper Chuck Brown to overlay the Native American trail map with current maps, then printed and distributed these maps to the community.
The Hightower Trail went from Augusta to the mountains of northwest Georgia. The place where it crossed the Chattahoochee River was known as the shallow ford, where it was possible for travelers to cross the river on foot. Perkins wrote, “It was a key trade and travel path for the Creek and Cherokee nations, whose territories were divided by the Chattahoochee River.”
The following is a detailed description of the path of the Hightower Trail, using the modern-day street names as reference. From Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, the trail went between Winters Chapel Road and Tilly Mill Road, through the woods on the northeast side of North Amberly Court. It went through the headwaters of Nancy Creek, through the west end of the DeKalb County Water Works, crossing Peeler Road west of Windwood Drive.
Then the trail crossed Brandy Turk Way and Happy Hollow Road, north of Coldstream Drive. It went through Heatherdale Lane and continued along the north side of Kingsley Lake. According to Perkins, the trail went through the parking lot of Kingsley Swim and Racquet Club and then North Peachtree Way.
From there, the trail continued behind the homes on the east side of North Peachtree Road, crossing North Peachtree Road north of Sandell Drive. Then it went along the east side of the parking area of All Saints Catholic Church before crossing Mount Vernon Road.
Perkins worked toward placing a historic marker at the All Saints Catholic Church entrance along Mount Vernon Road to commemorate the trail. With donations from Dr. James Anchors and Harris Teeter Grocery, and the help of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and newly formed Dunwoody Preservation Trust, the marker became a reality and was dedicated in 1997.
From All Saints Catholic Church, the trail continued through the Williamsburg at Dunwoody shopping center, and into The Woodlands subdivision. The trail crossed Trentham Drive near Woodland Way. It continued into Dunwoody Club Forest, crossing the east end of Trowbridge Drive, Stapleton Drive, and then Trowbridge Drive again. Then it passed through Tamworth Court and Trowbridge Drive, for a third time. Next, it crossed what is now Durrett Drive, Durrett Way, and Woodsong Drive.
At this point, the trail followed the path of Ball Mill Creek. It crossed Bend Creek Road and Dunwoody Club Drive into what is now Fulton County. Following the creek towards the Chattahoochee River, the trail continued past Spalding Drive just to the west of Temple Emanu-El. Then it crossed Northwold Drive, Sunnybrook Drive, and Northridge Road east of 400.
The trail picks up with the road off Dunwoody Place that still bears the name Hightower Trail. Hightower Trail crosses Roswell Road into Huntcliff. The Native American trail would have picked up at the Cherokee Country Club golf course and continued to the Chattahoochee River and the shallow ford.
Jim Perkins passed away in January of 2013, but his dedication to preserving history will remain through his many contributions, especially the Hightower Trail map.