top of page

Trailheads Cross New Bridge On Bowmans Island Trail, And Celebrate At Socks’ Love Barbecue.

The city slickers traveled north this week to just below the Buford Dam, which forms Lake Lanier, to hike Bowmans Island Trail. This is the northernmost Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area unit. The Army Corp of Engineers supervises the release of water from the dam feeding the Hooch, and it appears they are being stingy. The river was down, and the fish seemed upset about it.


Bowmans Island is a strip of land that divides the river waters up yonder. Who was “Bowmans?” you may ask. No one knows. They are not famous like some island residents you’re familiar with.

We doubt Bowmans cohabitated with Gilligan, the Skipper, a millionaire, and his wife, a movie star, The Professor, and Mary Ann––here on Bowmans Isle. We do know Microsoft Word keeps wanting to make Bowmans possessive, “Bowman’s.” Oh, Microsoft, you don’t know everything.


But this area is historically significant. Hundreds of years ago, the Cherokee used stones and built fish weirs in the river. “What’s that?” you ask, cocking a curious brow north. Aren’t you the inquisitive one today? Hold your horses, and we’ll tell you.


A fish weir is used to channel fish into a particular area where they will be easy to catch. It’s like a funnel, metaphorically speaking, shooting fish in a barrel. Pretty clever, right? Or is it devious, cruel, and unfair? Perhaps, if you are a fish attorney (good luck getting paid; we hope you like live bait).


On this clear, cold morning, Trail Master Guy led Brad, Roy, Steve, and Patrick on the Bowmans Island Trail. George was off to Emory Body Specialists getting some medical work done––new bionic legs for hiking, perhaps? So, we had five men and three dogs ready to give the trail what for.


We are big fans of this hike. Although short, it is a beautiful natural trail along the water and under a canopy of trees, naked this time of year. There are rock formations to behold, and when your arms get tired beholding them, you can move on. Whew, they're heavy!


Brad, Steve, and Patrick gushed about the new season of “Fargo” with Juno Temple from “Ted Lasso” and Jon Hamm from “Mad Men.” The story is cool, dark, and delicious––like eating double chocolate chip ice cream during a solar eclipse. The conversation swerved into movies and Roy’s position of not attending movie theaters unless the films involved Star Wars, Star Trek, or Hobbits. For some others in the group, those are reasons to avoid theaters. But this is America, so we let it be and continued hiking.


At one point, Guy discovered himself sandwiched between two different pickleball conversations. This was a fresh slice of hell for him since Guy doesn’t play due to a shoulder injury and his intense hatred of yellow plastic balls. When the conversations converged around the third shot drop, he covered his ears, assumed the lotus position, began to vibrate, and hum softly.


Brad began talking about his new car, which is scheduled to arrive soon. The vehicle is a Fisker, a stylish electric car with a lot of buzz. We wondered if maybe the vehicle had a short. Fisker stock has been hammered due to distribution issues and declining sales. Brad pitched the stock as a good bet since its price has dropped 79% this year. A share currently trades at a stick of Juicy Fruit and two shiny buttons. If you like long shots, put your money down. Better yet, buy a car.


Note: Investments can go up or down anytime, and you could make a bundle or lose your shirt. Trailheads’ investment advice is suspect and should never be used for your investing. But if you do, we will happily finance your move into the poor house.


It was nice to stroll and enjoy the beautiful crisp weather. The trail was not crowded. We encountered a few people walking dogs but were never passed. A couple of fellows were hiking in to go fishing. "Catch and release!" they exclaimed. We're betting the released fish are still pretty irritated, swimming around with mangled lips and sore jaws.


We came upon the new Bowmans Island Trail bridge, recently opened by Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy (CNPC). We put our noses to the metal structure and enjoyed that fresh bridge smell. And we felt proud having just donated $1,000 to CNPC (read about that here). This donation was made possible thanks to those who purchased merchandise from Trailheads Swag Shop (click, browse, buy––100% of the profits go to CNPC). We’re featuring our HIKE THE HOOCH and HOOCH HIKER collection––what well-dressed hikers are wearing year-round.


The old bridge had dropped at one end, making it a hazard. Roy and Guy couldn't agree which end had fallen. The dogs couldn't care less and sat watching them, yawning, reading emails on their phones, and checking stock prices (Elvis is heavily weighted in Fisker).


After all the bridge talk, we realized it was Trailheads’ feeding time.


Guy called a huddle, and somehow, even in this configuration, he managed to make his head more prominent than ours. We discussed the lunch play and decided to execute our game plan.


Trailheads retraced their steps back to the parking lot, then rushed to Socks' Love Barbecue in Cumming (read about an earlier visit here). We love the grub here.


This joint is difficult to find unless you’re in the know. It’s in a small plaza surrounded by five other businesses, but when you discover it, you’ll return like a homing pigeon that placed an Apple AirTag inside the restaurant. And once you sample the food, you will forever remember this place.


Steve "Socks" Hartsock is a magician with smoke. This talented pit master operates the big smoker back in the parking lot (the sucker has a boot, so no wise guys with sticky fingers get any ideas). He conjures some of the tastiest smoked meats in North Georgia from this double-walled metal chamber.


The maestro was smoking baby back ribs and sausages, and we burned our hands, reaching in to grab some. He chased us away and shook his fist.


We love Socks’ beef brisket so much that Brad ordered a full seven-pounder for the Trailheads’ holiday party on the 9th with our lovely brides, called The Trailmates. They somehow suffer living with us. And just for good measure, Brad got six jalapeno and cheese sausages. We'll need tapeworms to finish this feast.


Socks’ Love Barbecue’s interior space is comfortable with eye candy décor and cryptic hand symbol artwork. Roy and Guy suspected the three large prints might be American Sign Language for BBQ, and asked Socks. He said they were correct, so the two Trailheads jumped up and down and demanded a prize.

"Maybe a couple of Fiskers?" they asked.

The men were disappointed to hear that knowledge was all they'd receive. Roy and Guy pouted and grumbled and said, "It's not fair." They are very needy, but were smarter than when they walked in.


A terrific crew of friendly people work here, and the lovely woman behind the counter told us about the daily special of Triple Pork Fried Rice. Yes, yes, YES! Triple YES! We had never heard of such a dish and had to try it. Trailheads love it when pit masters get creative with their fare.


We placed our orders and grabbed a picnic table outside so the dogs could join us and bring some intelligence to our conversation. Here's a blow-by-blow of our dishes.


The Triple Pork Fried Rice was fantastic. Socks told us it takes all day to make a batch. The savory dish has the finest ingredients: Carolina rice, pork belly, pork rib meat, smoked pork, onions, and spices. We made short work of it, attacking the dish like it had harmed us. We hope this delectable TPFR becomes a regular menu item.


Guy had the Brisket Philly Cheesesteak, which used to be a daily special but became so popular Socks put it into his daily rotation. This masterpiece is built on a legit Philly Cheesesteak bun, loaded with smoked brisket and onions, and dressed to the nines with a creamy, cheesy, gooey, tasty sauce.


The rest of us had pulled pork. Socks smokes him a mighty fine swine. The meat is tender and flavorful, and it eats like a dream having a dream. And Socks' barbecue sauce has a peppery punch that enhances everything it touches.


The smoked Andouille sausage was also delicious. Andouille originated in France and made its way to the bayou. Steve got his Cajun on and ordered a couple of links to go for dinner (if they made it home––sometimes things disappear in transit).


Now for the sides. Brad gushed about his collard greens. “These are as good as any I’ve ever had,” he claimed. And the man has had acres of greens in his life—high praise from Mr. Collard Greens Jeans.


The baked beans also received rave reviews. They are authentic and good enough to make a cowboy cry and a campfire's flame to rage (remember "Blazing Saddles?").


The slaw was superb. Crisp, crunchy, savory––what’s not to like?


And Patrick was head over heels for his fire-roasted creamed corn (it’s embarrassing to watch a grown man propose to a side dish). Rest assured, those ears of corn did not die in vain.


Did we eat okra? You bet we did. Scrumptious okra fried golden and crispy with its dipping sauce.


Socks visited our table and gave Brad a bag with the goods for our holiday bash: brisket and sausages. Plus, reheating instructions he was told to follow to the letter. We had a great chat with Steve. He's a good friend of the Trailheads. He even contributed to our Help The Hooch fund on our last visit. Socks is a good man and smoke master.


We finished our meals and were joined by another friend. A ladybug crawled across our table. These beautiful insects are signs of good luck. Some believe a ladybug represents love in a current relationship or one about to begin.


Ladybugs don’t lie. Trailheads love Socks’ Love Barbecue, now and forever.

Rating: Four Ribs*

Socks' Love Barbecue

1050 Buford Hwy.

Cumming, GA 30041

(470) 302-8383

*About Our Barbecue Rating System

Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palettes. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they're dishing. Our reviews feature what we believe are the highlights of the menu we sampled. So our intent is not to trash talk the saintly folks who tend to smoldering smokers on hot, humid summer days. They are sacrificing themselves in the noble art of smoking meats and feeding the drooling masses. Many are independent entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this humming American economy. Now that you know our standards, you may wonder why every barbecue place gets a four ribs rating. The answer is easy: our group has acclaimed designers, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool. Who are we to argue? Enjoy.

  • barbecue

  • AtlantaBarbecue

  • bbqsauce

  • brisket

  • Brisket

  • ChattahoocheeChallenge

  • Chiggers

  • Elvis Loves Fio

  • hikingforfood

  • HikingGeorgia

  • hiking

  • North Georgia BBQ

  • Pierre de Coubertin Medal

  • Pulled Pork

  • quicksand

  • Ribs

  • Trailheads

  • Trailheads Approved

  • Whitesauce

  • TrailheadsHike

  • City BBQ

  • Summit Coffee

  • Okra

  • AJC

  • Olivia

  • Glacier National Park

  • Island Ford Trail

  • Pulitzer

  • Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution


bottom of page