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Trailheads Search For Sweetwater 420 in Sweetwater Creek, then Discover Barbecue At Beaver Creek.

It won’t be ravenous mountain lions or bears or heavily armed squirrels who do in Trailheads. It will be pickleball. The popular sport is played by four of six Trailheads, and it takes its toll on us. Steve couldn’t hike this week because he was chasing a bright yellow plastic ball with a graphite paddle and injured his heel.

There’s no way to candy-coat the incident and make it sound heroic, but here’s a suggestion for Steve: “A speeding orb was hurling toward a woman’s head, and I leaped to protect her from impending danger. I saved the fair damsel in distress but injured my heel in the process. I hope to fully recuperate before receiving my Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism.”

The damsel, by the way, didn’t need his help. She slammed the ball down the middle and won the point.

Steve was down and headed to some acupuncturist that would turn him into a human pin cushion, and Brad was out vacationing in rainy Canada. He put Elvis and Nilla in a kennel, and they were no doubt planning their great escape.

That left Trail Master Guy, George, Roy, Patrick, and Fio holding down the hiking duties. This week’s trail target was Sweetwater Creek State Park––2,549 acres of natural wildlands in Lithia Springs, about 15 miles from downtown Atlanta.

Some Trailheads remember hiking Sweetwater Creek twice before, but there’s only one write-up in our website chronicles, so officially, we’ve only been here once before (read about it here). After paying the sweet Sweetwater woman in the booth a five-dollar entrance fee, our journey began in the parking lot, with members detailing their many ailments. We won’t bore you with the travails of sciatic nerve issues, torn ligaments, or limbs randomly falling off for no apparent reason.

With the medical reports out of the way, x-rays checked, and prescriptions verified, we approached the trail at 9 a.m. instead of our usual ten because it would be a sweltering day with a high of 96 and 112% humidity. These are dark days in the annals of the willful avoidance of addressing climate change. The hoax is hot! At least we could cool off when we found the cold Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale flowing downstream (yes, we are that stupid).

Sweetwater Creek National Park has been a natural set for many films and TV shows over the years, including the “Hunger Games” movies, “MacGyver,” “Atlanta,” “Cobra Kai,” and lots more. But nothing is being shot there now due to the writers' and actors' strikes.

Some Trailheads mumbled about striking in support, and Trail Master barked, “Shut up, you whiners, or I’ll replace you with AI!” We realized we needed to form a Union to protect us from Trail Master. Our mumbles became grumbles.

But unionization sounded like work, so the bellyachers fell back in line. Sweetwater has many trails with colorful names like “White Trail,” “Red Trail,” Brown Trail,” etc.

There were signs posted that a couple of the colors were closed. Would this make our hike less artful? Only if Trail Master obeyed signs, which he usually doesn’t. The sadistic maniac would gladly lead us through the gates of hell if Satan posted a “No Trespassing” sign. We girded our loins for the journey ahead, which required some effort.

We walked and talked (as is our way), and the subjects were as random as the heads popping up in a Whac-A-Mole game. George mentioned that he and Carole recently celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary.

Next week, Patrick and Donna will mark 38 years of marital bliss (it’s more like tolerance on her part). Guy, Roy, Steve, and Brad also have long-term, happy marriages. We agreed all Trailheads had married very well. Still, our wives are gleeful and giddy to get us out of the house on Thursdays to hike and grab grub.

As we hiked, we discussed books and shows we’re enjoying: Roy feasts on a buffet of sci-fi literature and enjoyed the new Blake Crouch book “Upgrade.” Guy and Patrick are big fans of “Hijack” on Apple, and George is busy making his doc on the ’96 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Here’s an interesting trivia question: How many Trailheads competed in the Olympics, and how many medals did they win? Give up? Believe it or not, the answer is zero! Remember that question and score easy free drinks in bar bets.

As we negotiated the trails in the oppressive heat, we came to a closed bridge fenced off with signs reading: RED & GREEN TRAIL CLOSED. Usually, this sign would be an enticing invitation to our bad boy Trail Master, but we demanded he obeys and stand down. Guy whimpered, and we began backtracking.

We meandered along the trails and byways to another section of the park and walked toward the beautiful lake where a couple in a boat were fishing. We looked up in the trees and saw a frog fishing lure dangling from a branch. Was someone trying to catch birds?

Was it a real frog or a rubber frog? Why would any creature be attracted to a rubber frog––wouldn’t worms be better bait than frogs? Why do both fish and birds find worms so tantalizing? Are we missing something? Do worms taste like chicken? Those perplexing questions can stop one dead in his tracks, but we pushed on.

Going down the trail, we found a sign reading “Spillway” and engaged in a lengthy discussion of the purpose of spillways (they don’t get the credit they deserve). George struck a heroic pose (as he often does) for a snapshot. We’d send the pic to the Postmaster General proposing an official SPILLWAYS FOREVER postage stamp––sure to be a collector’s item.

As we returned to the parking lot, we came to a fenced area warning: “DANGER KEEP OUT Law Enforcement Firearms Training Facility.” We double-dared Trail Master to trespass, but he didn’t take our bait. Maybe we needed a worm. Or frog. We did wonder how the chain link fence was supposed to stop these errant law enforcement bullets flying about. We decided the razor wire probably did the trick.

After the hike, we returned to the cars and found our way to virgin territory for us: Beaver Creek Biscuit Company and Barbecue. The restaurant roof had pig sculptures and an American flag––this was our kind of joint.

Patriotic pigs cooked to order! Of course, we had just read an article that hogs are running wild in the U.S. and spreading disease. Based on our experience, that disease is probably obesity.

Unfortunately, we can’t relay the history of this establishment, although the Beaver Creek website shows a picture of two guys named John and Terry and mentions “Carol’s Blue-Ribbon Biscuits.”

An outside sign proclaims, “Turner’s BBQ Home of the Seminole Sauce.” Hmm, who is Turner? Are John, Terry, and Carol Turners? Mysteries abound. Curious, we went inside to see what this place was all about.

The only airs Beaver Creek Biscuit Company and Barbecue put on are from its large smokehouse. The restaurant interior is all business––a counter, cash register, serving station, fryers, and kitchen. Read the menu, place your order, pay your bill (don’t forget the tip jar, buddy), step aside, and wait for your number to be called. They call them fast, and when your number comes around, you feel like you’ve won the Lotto!

Back in the kitchen, we spied a guy lugging a 50 lb. sack of fresh potatoes and loading them into the sink for a refreshing bath before being cut into homemade fries. We liked the looks of this attentive care––keep those Sysco taters in the freezer––give us the good stuff.

Ordering was a breeze because we were on the early side of lunch. Patrick tried to get one of Carol’s famous biscuits but was told no dice. Biscuits aren’t served after 11. But you know they had some in the back. You just know it--please don't bogart the blue-ribbon biscuits, Carol! This restaurant serves breakfast and lunch only, closing at 3 p.m. So, order big and have leftovers for dinner.

By the time we were done ordering, a line was forming. That line never stopped growing as the parking lot filled and hungry patrons cued up for 'cue. The line inside grew to Woodstock proportions (without brown acid or tie-dye bandanas). In front of the building, a line of cars and pickups waited in the drive-through for their lunches. Although we didn’t know about Beaver Creek, it appeared the rest of the world did and liked the place plenty. Let’s get under the hood of this joint with our reactions and reviews.

Rib man George ordered a rack and was wowed by the amount of meat and its tenderness. “These are terrific,” he said in between gnawing bones. Patrick had an a la carte rib and agreed. Whomever the heck Turner is knows how to smoke some mighty tasty and tender ribs. We wish the pit master smoked a little bark on them for crunch, but the meat fell away from the bones perfectly.

Guy and Roy ordered the pork sandwich plates, and although the bun was not toasted (our preference, if anyone’s asking), they loved their sammies. The moist, flavorful pork was top-notch, and they kicked up the jams with a cocktail of sweet barbecue sauce and the mysterious “Seminole Sauce.” We wondered if the Seminole sauce was a Native American recipe or delivered from Florida State University tanker trucks.

Whoever invented the formula concocted one tasty sauce with a mustardy tang and a peppery pop. While we think of the Seminole Tribe of Native Americans in northern Florida, they were also in southern Georgia. We could not find any connection to barbecue, however.

Patrick had the pulled pork plate and agreed with the guys about the tenderness of the meat. The pit master does not over-smoke, but the pork has a subtle hint of smokey love, allowing the meat's flavor to take center stage and be enhanced with saucing (ain’t that some flowery word jazz?)

How about the sides? The Brunswick Stew was on point, with a hearty flavor. The slaw was not shredded cabbage. Nope, it was small cabbage bits held together in a creamy sauce. It wasn’t this writer’s jam, but some of our team dug it. The slaw was perfectly placed on top of the pork in the sandwiches, in the North Carolina and North Alabama tradition. The baked beans were what they promised—baked beans. Beans rarely transcend. The better ones tend to have a boatload of extra ingredients to make them taste different. If you liked your Mom’s baked beans, you’ll love these.

Everyone sampled the fries, and those babies delivered. They were fresh, crispy, and delicious. The crunchy ends were out of sight. Those taters did not die in vain. See you later, Sysco fries!

Although George had three or four ribs, he was stuffed. He got a box for leftovers, and Carole and he had a fabulous snack for later (there’s the secret to a happy marriage, folks). It was prime lunchtime, and the line of people snaked outdoors, with an endless stream of cars and pickup trucks in the drive-through. We finished our meals and rubbed our bellies in satisfaction. Although we had never been to Beaver Creek Biscuit Co. and Barbecue or Beaver Creek, we vowed to return–maybe earlier to snatch a biscuit or two.

Rating: Four Ribs*

Beaver Creek Biscuit Company and Barbecue

1451 Six Flags Rd.

Lithia Springs, GA 30122

(770) 739-0200

*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.

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