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Trailheads Meet A Bridge Troll, Battle Thrombosis, Eat At Jim ‘N Nick’s

Updated: May 11

Are bridge trolls real or just something you read about in fairy tales and see in movies like “Monty Python & The Holy Grail?"

Trailheads thought bridge trolls were a fanciful creation designed to make little children become insomniac adults. But then we encountered one and became believers––like Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees when he became a believer and couldn’t leave her if he tried!

Our adventure unfolded on the East Palisades Trail, one of our favorite Hooch trails that ends at the mysterious Bamboo Forest, haunted by koala bears hawking crypto and Aussie boomerangs made in China. We didn’t make it that far since Roy was still suffering from a nasty respiratory ailment, and his iron lung was hard to move.

George joined us. He was supposed to be flying to Paris that morning, but he canceled the trip because of a pain in his calf that he feared might be a blood clot.

“You mean a thrombosis?” some smarty pants Trailhead asked (the one who watches medical shows).

“Sure, yeah, whatever,” George said. “A plane is no place to be with a thrombosis.”

Patrick said he was once on a plane when a musician died from trombonsis––a similar medical condition to clarinetis, and saxophonis.

After hearing Patrick's cheery death tale, George felt much better and immediately called his doctor to schedule an appointment.

Guy, Brad, Roy, and Patrick were happy to have George back hiking, even with his thrombosis. But we missed Steve, who is living it up in Arizona.

He's putting on airs at swanky resorts and drinking cocktails with flowers floating on them––a clear infraction of Trailhead bylaw 432.73B. Steve will probably return and demand his Pulled Pork sandwiches are topped with exotic flowers. BBQ joints, be forewarned. 

We went to the edge of the mighty Chattahoochee River this splendid spring morning, and Brad cast his leash and went dog fishing. He landed a big one, Elvis. Fio was thrilled to have canine companionship. The dogs jawboned about the unfortunate demise of Cricket in the gravel pit and constantly gave us suspicious looks as our hike got underway.

We noticed a broken plank on a short wooden bridge on the trail. We were curious and looked down into the hole's darkness. A pair of bright eyes blinked. We hurried back, fearful it might be a werewolf or a replacement windows salesperson when suddenly, a nasty troll appeared in front of the bridge. The spooky eyes were his.


“What is ye quest?” he asked in a croaking, commanding voice.

“To hike the Hooch,” we said in unison.

“What is ye name?”

“The Trailheads.”

He wrinkled his brow. “Really? Aren't you the ones selling ‘Hike the Hooch’ merchandise and donating all profits to The Chattahoochee River National Conservancy?”

“Yes, that’s us. We’re wearing some of that stylish apparel now.”

“I love it. Looks cool. Where can I buy some?”

“In The Trailheads Swag Shop. CLICK HERE, shop away!”

“What do you mean, ‘click here’?”

“Click on the hyperlink above; it's underlined, and you’ll go to our website on the internet. Shop for all the cool merch and help the Hooch.”

The Troll looked confused. “Ye speak dark magic––what with your ‘hyperlink’ and ‘internet.’

But you do seem like good eggs. Methinks I like the cuts or your jibs, whatever that means. So, go, ye may pass over my bridge. But don’t tell anyone what a big softie I am. I mean it. I need to keep my bridge cred.”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Troll, we won’t tell a soul.”

We lied.

As we hiked, we saw a fantastic thing (trolls under bridges aren't enough?!): some people in rafts floating down the river like Huck Finn. Did they realize this wasn’t the Mississippi? 

Then we came upon some people in bright orange Home Depot tee shirts picking up litter on the riverbank. It’s incredible that people still litter. Pick up after yourselves. You’re making Native Americans cry. Don't be a pig. You'll end up in a smoker.

We discussed cars as we walked. Trailheads love mixing modes of transportation conversation. George recounted the VW Beetles he owned and loved.

Trivia question: What is the connection between Volkswagen and Hitler? Google it, and you will be surprised. Roy is waiting impatiently for the release of the VW Buzz electric bus. The hippie genes run strong in this Trailhead.


Because many of us spent our careers toiling in the marketing game, we are all fans of the legendary “Think Small” campaign from Doyle Dane Bernbach. Is it the best ad campaign ever? It’s hard to think of anything better or more revolutionary. But if you do, comment. We'll entertain your misguided opinion.

We climbed the hills slowly so Roy would not be taxed. Unfortunately, an IRS agent captured him and subjected him to an audit. Is Henny Youngman writing this crap?

Once we hit the top of the hill, we descended the stairway leading to “the porch,” a fabulous perch over the woods and the magnificent Hooch. Big planes were in the sky on their way to Dobbins Air Force Base (we hope).

Everyone was excited and shot pictures like paparazzi shadowing Tay-Tay. We noticed some graffiti from Jack to Ellie Post–– Ellie, yes, he still loves you. Give Jack a break. He regrets his Valentine’s gift of a metal detector. He thought it was romantic because you might use it to find some lovely jewelry.

We sat and talked and solved a few world problems but left the rest for others so they’d have something to do (we can’t do everything, for crying out loud!) and journeyed back.

We backtracked to the parking lot. May is National Barbecue Month, and we were excited. We thought we’d go to a favorite that’s close by, Heirloom BBQ, but we got frustrated with their online ordering process (maybe the Bridge Troll was right about it being dark magic).

The process has always been a pain, but apparently, it worked for the Michelin people when they were in town and gushed about their fare. But none of us could get the Heirloom site to take our payment. Then Guy called an audible, and we set our coordinates for Jim ‘N Nick’s Community Bar-B-Q in Smyrna. 

Trailheads last visited this joint almost a year ago. Read about that visit here. It was momentous because Patrick picked up the check (he usually walks checks), and Brad left a $100 tip for our server, Katrina. She was overjoyed, and we were impressed at his generosity.

Upon returning, Brad was surprised to see they hadn't erected a statue of him. He was crestfallen but soldiered on. We didn't spot Katrina either. We assumed she took her tip and retired. Hopefully, she didn't invest it in Fisker stock as Brad had advised the human race for months. His car runs better on the roads than it does on the market. Pow!

Jim ‘N Nick’s is a chain of 48 restaurants in six states, and their Smyrna joint is beautiful, with a spacious outdoor patio. We settled in, and the dogs took their begging positions.

Minutes later, Elvis somehow managed to get through the fence and get stuck. Brad had to rescue him.

Our lunch was kicked off with a complimentary basket of Jim ‘N Nicks warm cheesy muffins, their signature welcome gift; you can find packets of the mix in Publix and other fine stores.

These savory suckers are pure goodness, and they vanish fast yet somehow remain around your waistline for years to come. Peruse the menu and let the muffin melt in your gob, down the gullet, and into your gut. Soon, you will love them like Jack loves Ellie Post.

Our server brought us our drinks. Those who ordered Arnold Palmers raved about how good they were. Why are they so tasty? Because J'NN makes them with natural, homemade lemonade, not some soda fountain mixture of artificial flavors and coloring (we're looking at you, Minute Maid).

We placed our orders. Pulled pork nachos kicked things off. The platter was stacked high with fresh, crispy, salty tortilla chips topped with melted cheddar, heaped with tender smoked pulled pork, and then garnished with pico de gallo and chipotle crema. Hands attacked the platter from every direction, and the mouth magicians made it disappear.

Then came the main events. George had a half rack of baby back ribs and dug right in. He said they were delicious, with a nice smokey flavor. He ate them to the bone and left some scraps for Elvis and Fio.

Roy tried the pulled chicken sandwich served with a toasted Martin’s Potato Bun, the pinnacle of meat-carrying media. Crisp pickle slices crowned the sandwich, and Roy ate happily. His only beef with the chicken is that he found a few bones (maybe he had a bone to pick with his chicken).

The sammie came with what they call "Morgan County White Sauce," which Roy knows from his childhood in Decatur, Alabama (Morgan County), as Big Bob Gibson's White Sauce. They dip their smoked chicken in vats of it there. Good stuff. It possibly causes thrombosis.

Guy tried the fried catfish. He told us about an all-you-can-eat catfish place where he ate regularly in Athens during his UGA days. Trail Master said he could put away some serious catfish back then. This serving was not quite as generous, and Guy’s side selections made it look like a light meal for a runway model.

But he sure loved his catfish, and we suspect Jim ‘N Nick would have gone broke if it had been all-you-can-eat fried catfish like Red Lobster is from their endless All-You-Can-Eat-Shrimp promotions.

Brad also ate on the lighter side with a single jalapeno cheese sausage link. He loved the flavor, and soon, it became the missing link. (Henny, was that you again?)

Patrick enjoyed six smoked wings cooked extra crispy. These meaty babies, dusted with a flavorful seasoning, got dressed in sweet barbecue sauce and taken to lunch. The wings flew into his piehole. They were good eatin’.

Let's go to the side dishes. George and Brad sampled the brisket chili, which they both liked even though they prefer Texas-style chili without beans. That said, they worked their spoons like they were digging a hole out of prison. 

Roy and Guy had coleslaw. It’s a good recipe. Shredded crispy cabbage and carrots tossed in a light dressing with a little tang. What's not to like?

Guy also had the fruit side, which he said tasted like fresh fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, and green grapes don’t need any razzamatazz unless you’re making a legit dessert––which we all avoided ordering.

With our bellies full, we solved another world problem just ‘cause and called it a day. There were naps to be taken and Troll tales to be told.

And, no, there was no Benjamin tip this time. Sorry, Brad, that statue isn't happening.


Rating: Four Ribs*

Jim ‘N Nick's Community Bar-B-Q

4574 South Cobb Dr.

Smyrna, GA 30080

(678) 556-001


*About Our Barbecue Rating System

Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palates. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they're dishing out. 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

  • bbq sauce

  • brisket

  • Brisket

  • ChattahoocheeChallenge

  • Chiggers

  • Elvis Loves Fio

  • hikingforfood

  • HikingGeorgia

  • hiking

  • North Georgia BBQ

  • Pierre de Coubertin Medal

  • Pulled Pork

  • quicksand

  • Ribs

  • Trailheads

  • Trailheads Approved

  • White sauce

  • 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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