top of page

Trailheads Lose Two Hikers But Gain a Dog And Pig Out At Ferley’s BBQ.

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

On Saturday, Brad and Barb hosted our annual Trailheads Holiday Bash, with all six of us and the beautiful women who somehow tolerate us.


6 Trailheads + 6 Trailmates = The 12, and we had a wonderful time. Of course, Elvis and Nilla also attended, dressed in their furry finest. They circled like two Roombas in overdrive, looking to Hoover up any errant scraps of food. As if.


We had a brisket feast with jalapeno, cheddar cheese sausages (handcrafted and smoked to perfection by Steve at Socks' Love Barbecue), and side dishes galore. The booze flowed like Niagara Falls. We had homemade dessert, and then things got wild. We played charades.


Yes, charades––as if we were at Rob & Laura Petrie’s house with Buddy Sorrell, Sally Rogers, and Mel Cooley. It was a spirited game where Roy threw down a stumper, “All The Young Dudes.” No one could guess his clue, not even the surviving members of Mott The Hoople (we invite them to all our social functions). 


Everyone had fun at the party, but after a few days of recovery, we had to get back to work on the righteous path to truth and barbecue on Thursday. Trail master Guy selected Red Top Mountain Trail Loop, up 75 to Bartow County and Lake Allatoona. Fun fact, the lake has no toona fish. How odd.


Due to illness, George tapped out of the hike, and Roy couldn’t join because of acute out-of-townness. That left Guy, Steve, Brad, and Patrick to represent human beings (admittedly, a weak showing), but the animal kingdom stepped up. Steve brought his son’s dog, Teddy, a boxer-lab-something else-mix, and he joined Elvis, Nilla, and Fio.

The dogs introduced themselves in that intimate way dogs do, which, if humans did, we’d get arrested and be scandalized. Patrick knows. He has tried it before. “Bad boy! Bad boy!”


The scales were now balanced: four men and four dogs. Which species would prevail?


Red Top Mountain has a large gift shop for essentials like maple syrup in hand-grenade-shaped containers. You’ll be ready to attack a stack of flapjacks at dawn. A couple of what appeared to be militia group members were checking them out and said something about "repurposing the containers.” We escaped the gift shop and hit the trails without stocking up on stocking stuffers.


We hiked Red Top Mountain Trail Loop once long ago (read about it here). Off in the distance, we saw a cabin and headed for it. Guy said we should get a picture posing like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's “Déjà vu” album cover.

As we mugged for the lens, we felt like we had been here before. We have all been here before. Weird, right?


A display explained the structure as a “Dog Trot Cabin.” The building has a front and back porch. On the left side is the kitchen. On the right, a bedroom. And between the two is a breezeway, or “dog trot.” The design of this cabin is for keeping cool in the ungodly hot summers of pre-air conditioner days. The kitchen had three doors to take advantage of whichever way the wind was blowing.


The sage philosopher/meteorologist Bob Dylan wrote, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” We think Bob would like this Dog Trot Cabin design.


Each man manned a dog leash, and we went down the trail. This hike is a beauty. The trails are well-maintained, but you should mind your step––there are rocks and exposed roots that can take you down instantly. 


Since Roy Tumbles was absent, Guy obliged and took a mighty fall, and his Hooch Hiker hat flew. The dogs came to his rescue, and he sat up and gained his composure and a small measure of pride. He rose after a few minutes, proving you can’t keep a good man down.

If you’d like some Hooch-wear, we’ve got it here. All profits go to Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy and the good works they do. Hooch-wear does not protect you from a fall, but it does hold up well in the event you do.


We went down to the lake so the dogs could frolic. Then we hit the trails again and encountered a friendly couple named Trystin and Paige. It was Paige’s 20th birthday, and we sang “Happy Birthday” to her as the dogs covered their ears with paws.

We bored Trystin and Paige with our hiking group history and gave them Trailheads stickers and one of Patrick’s heavy stock business cards with info about his circus novel (get your copy here). Yes, we are shameless self-promoters stalking innocents in the woods. Where was the game warden?


We began hiking again, and suddenly, the ground started shaking. Were we on a fault line? Was this the end of life on this blue marble? No, it was merely our stomachs grumbling and demanding to be fed.


Ferley’s BBQ in Ackworth was three miles away, and we were there in a flash. The moment we drove up, it was like discovering a long-lost friend. We had eaten here once before in March 2022, when the shack had no indoor or outdoor seating, and we dined on our car hoods. We were happy to see picnic tables out front. Trailheads would be eating like rich fat cats with their dogs––on actual furniture!


We approached the ordering window and were greeted by a friendly young man with a mustache and beard. Patrick asked his name, and he said, Chris. The Trailhead assumed he was Chris Ferley, a name close to Chris Farley, so maybe he also lived in a van down by the river. But no. Patrick was wrong (nothing new there).


Chris’s nickname is Ferley, and he cooks the meats. The Ferley’s pig with a beard logo is an homage the young man who has won numerous barbecue competition awards. The pit master took our orders and remembered us. He proudly displayed the Trailheads sticker we gave him last year by the cash register. 


Ferley’s mother, Kathy, at the other window, prepared and distributed the meals. Kathy and her husband Clay cook all the side dishes here. This place is a family affair, a mom-and-pop and son’s barbecue joint. Nice. Blood is thicker than water, and barbecue sauce is thicker than both.


Brad and Guy ordered jumbo beef brisket sandwiches, a third pound of tender brisket piled onto a sesame bun. They dressed the smoked meat with some of Ferley’s flavorful sauces; there were four delicious varieties, and they ate like champions. Bravo on the brisket.


Steve had a pulled pork sandwich topped with a mound of fresh slaw. He dressed the juicy pulled pork with a mixture of the original and vinegar barbecue sauces and was in pig heaven.


Patrick double-dipped on the pork with a quarter pound of pulled pork and two spare ribs. Kathy gave him an extra rib, and he tossed her gift to Steve. Even though we prefer baby backs, these ribs were stellar. They passed George’s test of eating the meat clean to the bone. The ribs are expertly seasoned with a peppery spice rub and sauce glaze.


Take a bow, Ferley. Your smoked meats curled our toes. You are a masterful pit master. But what about the sides your parents made? Are they riding your coattails? Nope––Mom and Dad delivered the goods.


The collard greens were “authentic and excellent,” said Brad. He also liked his green beans. Two green vegetables with his brisket sandwich? Is he on a health kick?


Steve hunched over his Brunswick Stew and worked his spoon like one of those bobbing flamingoes that dunk its beak in a cup of water.


Patrick gave an Irishman’s thumbs up to the potato soup daily special. It was creamy, savory with tender chunks of potato and chopped scallions, studded with bacon or pork bits.

When Patrick finished his potato soup, he did a joyous jig, and other customers asked him to stop––NOW, or they’d call the police. He sat and pouted, trying to work up some tears.


With our bellies full, we decided to call it a day. Brad loaded Nilla and Elvis into the Fisker, his beautiful new electric car. Teddy and Fio loaded into Guy’s Jeep, and Teddy asked how he did.

“You did great, champ,” Steve said. Teddy grinned, and we headed home.


Take a tip from Trailheads: if you’re near Ferly’s BBQ, stop for a plate of grub. Good cooks run in this family.

Rating: Four Ribs*

Ferley's BBQ

6674 Glade Road SE

Acworth, GA. 30102


*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