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Trailheads Defy Gravity, Get Airborne, And Land At Sam’s BBQ-1.

Updated: Feb 25

The impossible nearly happened when the Trailheads almost assembled a whole crew to hike, but at the last minute, Brad crapped out. His excuse? Work. WORK!!!


Imagine the unmitigated gall of leaving his friends in the lurch so he could chase the almighty buck. He was worshipping at the altar of capitalism when the joys of true comradeship could be relished with a relaxing stroll through beautiful woods on the Chattahoochee River Loop Trail.

But for some reason, Brad chose to walk in lockstep with dollar-seeking drones as his true friends hiked trails on their passionate pursuit of truth and barbecue. Oh, well, his loss. And Elvis’. But the show must go on.


As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Time and Trailheads wait for no one. And a penny saved isn’t much of a retirement account.”

We pulled into the trail’s parking lot and saw an impressive Harley Hog parked in front of a “NO BIKING” sign. Was this the motorcycle of Leonard Smalls, the mythical evil presence in the Coen Brothers’ 1987 film “Raising Arizona?”

Was Smalls hiding somewhere, preparing to take us down? We would have to be on watch. Trailheads are not men of battle. We’re more guys who run screaming and flailing our arms wildly at the first signs of trouble. For you trivia folks, who played Leonard Smalls?


Patrick was back from his weeklong lollygagging in St. Croix, showing no evidence of tan lines, sunstroke, or sand in his boots. Suspicious. He may have just been driving around Hartsfield-Jackson Airport for a week searching for a parking space.


The elusive George, who is often missing from hikes, appeared out of nowhere (in a Subaru Outback, actually). The sighting was witnessed and certified as a bona fide miracle. The mysterious bearded man came to hike with equal parts vim and vigor (although some claim it was a 48-52% mix since George is partial to the vim).


Trail master Guy led George, Steve, Roy, and Patrick on the expedition on a cool morning. We walked the path by an old farmhouse with small structures resting on stone pillars. There was a fence around the property, but since there weren’t “NO TRESPASSING” signs posted, we kept on the outside.

Had there been signs, we’re sure Guy would have had us climbing the fence or tunneling beneath it. He forces us to break the law. Guy is what the authorities call “a bad boy.”


We discussed the new Alabama Supreme Court ruling that considers frozen embryos to be children, causing in vitro fertilization to be paused in the state for fear of “wrongful death of a minor” charges being pressed should things go sideways. We wondered what a frozen Jack Nicholson would be considered. Or the frozen Walt Disney. Suspended animation?

Then we speculated on what might be next––laws against self-pleasure? This led to a discussion of what George termed “murderbation.” Man-oh-man, with that dark humor, we had begun our hike on the wrong foot.


The conversation changed to the “Masters of The Air” series on Apple TV+. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and get onboard––the storytelling, acting, and special effects are excellent. It’s “Band of Brothers” in the sky.

Also check out Apple’s “The New Look” about what Christian Dior and Coco Channel did to survive in Paris during the Nazi occupation. The world of high fashion was never so ugly.


Trailheads also gave high marks to the recently completed “True Detective: Night Country” mini-series on MAX (the stupid name HBO changed to). Jody Foster and crew delivered the goods. But don't listen to us. We're not Siskel and Ebert, after all. Figure it out for yourself.


Trailheads broke into smaller groups as we hiked. Guy usually leads since he is trail master and walks fastest. One or two join him and talk about something while the laggards cluster behind, wondering what the big rush is and talking about something else.

We may pair off into three conversations with an entire crew of six. Roy prefers the middle, solo position, where he talks to himself and rarely agrees with anything he says. If you were reading the transcripts of our discussions, you would feed them into a paper shredder.


The path wound along a creek, and we crisscrossed it several times. This involved physical agility as one negotiates across stones to scale the riverbanks. Of course, we are all athletic (most of us play pickleball, which at times can almost lead to legitimate exercise). Woodland creatures observed us in wonderment as we defied gravity like Air Jordon in his prime. We leaped magnificently, becoming airborne for what seemed like hours and landing gently back to terra firma like a feather falling to rest.


We heard applause from the impressed animals and bowed, then continued onward. Trailheads proudly represent humanity to the animal world, and we are confident when bears finally eat us, they will appreciate our diet of smoked meats and savory sides.


Trailheads hiked to the mighty Chattahoochee River. We walked to the banks and viewed Morgan Falls Dam. Although it’s not as breathtaking as Niagara Falls, it is worth seeing, and of course, we had trail master take a selfie to prove we had made it.


We returned to our cars on an alternative path up a steep hill. This workout would fuel our hunger for a barbecue reward at the end of our journey. We came upon a family descending with its dog; however, there was no time to dilly-dally, not when we were ravished. The children recognized us and begged for autographs. Knowing the signatures would probably soon be on eBay, we obliged and quickened our pace. We take lunchtime seriously.


Off we drove to Sam’s BBQ-1, an East Cobb barbecue joint we had not visited in over two years (read about our last experience here). None of us could remember much about our previous visit––then again, we had already forgotten where we had just hiked. Was it the Appalachian Trail? We think so.


Sam’s BBQ-1 has an interesting history. Atty. Sam Huff opened BBQ-1 in 2004 as a weekend takeout operation. His barbecue reputation spread fast, and Sam’s friend Dave Poe joined him. They renamed the place Sam and Dave’s, and if you’re waiting for more history, hold on, I’m coming (an Easter egg for trivia fans).

They hired Chef Dave Roberts to run operations, then built another restaurant in West Marietta. It would later become Dave Poe’s BBQ. Guess what? Then Dave Roberts got the entrepreneurial bug and opened Community Q BBQ in Decatur. In 2009, Sam left the legal game and devoted himself to barbecue, opening a second joint in West Cobb in 2013 and selling it five years later. Whew!


Sam is like patient zero in the barbecue racket, spreading his knowledge far and wide. Along the way, Atlanta Magazine, the AJC, and Zagat have praised his barbecuing talent.


We assembled inside, and it was like going into Tom Brady’s rec room––trophies were everywhere. Sam’s “wood pit bbq” is well regarded by the barbecue community, and he has the hardware to prove it. But how would his recipes and cooking stand up to Trailheads’ discriminating palates?


Wait––what was that on the wall? A picture of Robert Duvall, who is a Sam’s BBQ fan. If this grub is good enough for “Bull” Meacham/Boo Radley/Lt. Col. Kilgore/Mac Sledge/Tom Hagen/EF Dewey/ and “Lucky” Ned Pepper, we had great expectations. Trivia nuts can name those Duvall movies for extra credit that will earn you nothing but the undying adoration of others (and empty seats next to you at most social functions).


The guy at the counter was quizzed about what his favorite dishes were. He said it’s all good (a wise man), but he’s partial to the beef brisket. Sam smokes all your favorite meats and prepares homemade sides. We placed our orders and sat, listening to our stomachs growling in anticipation.


Uh-oh, we noticed a condiment faux pas––the “fancy tomato ketchup” was not Heinz. Oh, Sam, Trailheads believe Heinz is the only ketchup, but we applaud you for serving Louisiana Brand Tabasco Peppers in Vinegar and Texas Pete Hot Sauce. How about switching to genuine Pittsburgh ketchup? Now, let’s eat.


George, Roy, Guy, and Patrick had baby back ribs and loved them. George, our rib expert, was happy. The tender meat had a peppery rub with a subtle smoke flavor, and it ate clean to the bone.

Roy said the cooked-on sauce was the key to making them so tasty. Of course, some of us take everything to extremes, so we dressed them with Sam’s Kansas City-style BBQ Sauce. Sam makes some awfully fine barbecue sauces. Vinegar lovers will flip for the North Carolina BBQ Sauce.


Guy and Patrick ordered the two meat platters and sampled beef brisket with their ribs. We liked the brisket bunches. The beef was tender with a nice flavor, and it popped with the addition of sauce.


Steve is dependable with his lunch orders––he’s a pulled pork sandwich man. He said his Sammie was good but soared to new heights after being drizzled with Sam’s KC sauce and topped with slaw.


Generous Steve ordered sausage for the table. The tasty link slices got even better with sauce or dunked in Brunswick Stew—that’s the ticket for a flavor explosion.


The star side dish was the Brunswick Stew. This savory concoction of pulled pork, tomatoes, and sweet corn in a tangy, expertly-spiced red sauce was in the top tier of all Brunswick Stews we’ve taken on spoon test drives.


Sam’s coleslaw is delicious, but the dressing was a little heavy. Lighten up, please.


Roy said the collard greens were authentic and delicious. They did the South proud.


Guy and Patrick enjoyed their veggie of the day, onion rings. They were circular, fried crisp, and mighty fine with some KC sauce (we imagine they’d be fantastic with Heinz Ketchup).


Finally, the corn muffins were a sweet treat.


Drop by Sam’s BBQ-1 Wood Pit BBQ and tie on the feed bag. You may be inspired to open your own barbecue joint like others have.




Rating: Four Ribs*

Sam’s BBQ-1

4958 Lower Roswell Rd

Marietta, GA 30068


*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


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