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Trailheads Take Flight at the Blue Heron Preserve. Then Fill Empty Stomachs At DBA Barbecue.

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

After a big week of accolades from around the world for the Trailheads feature article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Thanks again Olivia and Nick!), we couldn't rally a quorum for this week's hike. Which means this is an unsanctioned hike and it never officially happened. Trail Master Guy had planned an elaborate journey north of town to visit Socks Love Barbecue for lunch. We are big fans.

But Steve is undergoing dry-needled and waterboarding (we think) for his plantar fasciitis. George was busy working on his super-secret, eyes-only project. We can say no more at the risk of being "disappeared." George runs a tight ship. And Patrick headed to Ohio to visit his family and friends. What are we, Mister Buckeye––chopped liver on stale toast?

That left Guy, Brad, and Roy to wrangle the dogs and navigate the heat-parched terrain. We decided to save our hike up north for a larger contingent. We had to find a new spot, and Guy selected the Blue Heron Nature Preserve trail in the Chastain area.

Of course, we've hiked here before, but it's close to Guy's house, and the barbecue spot was a stone's throw from there (if you have a bionic arm and a strong wind at your back). The Trail Master looks out for himself.

The Blue Heron consists of four distinct areas: wetlands, meadows, woodlands, and something called riparian, which refers to the strip of land between a river or stream and the land beyond. You could say "riverbank," but you'll sound much smarter saying "riparian" and watching people cock their heads in confusion. Smile smugly, then get beaten to a pulp for being a wise ass.

We began hiking across a sandy low area, stopped by the stream for the pups to splash around, and took the boardwalks through what looked like endless chigger-infested lowlands.

Then we had to pop out on Roswell Road to get to the next section. Nilla kept trying to pull Brad into traffic. She's British and doesn't know to look "left" for oncoming traffic. Or she doesn't like Brad, and Roswell Road is a convenient weapon. Discuss, there are no wrong answers.

We trash-talked our fellow Trailheads who didn't make the hike. We discussed Brad's new branding project, which sounds very cool. And we brainstormed promotional strategies for our new Summer line of hot pink t-shirts. (Get yours here!) Sales of the pink beauties are spiking, and supplies are limited––order yours soon and become an instant fashionista. The world's gone pink crazy, and we're all in. They're available in adult men, women, and kids sizes. And, as always, profits from Trailheads swag sales go to the Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy. It's a great cause.

We scrambled up some rocky steps and entered another section of this beautiful 30-acre oasis in the city. Elvis, Fio, and Nilla pulled at their leashes––every pup wanted to be the leader of the pack––and they dragged Trailheads along for the ride.

We ran into a lovely family with a dog. Furry companion comparisons ensued. Their breed was one this writer had never heard before––Catahoula, maybe with a dash of Australian Shepard. It looked very terrier-ish to this cat person (but what do I know?). Brigitte was taking lots of cool trail photos like us. We had a wonderful chat with everyone. Always nice to meet nice people on the trail.

Guy insisted on leading us on one last stretch, adding another 20 minutes to the hike (the man is a sadist!), then released us for lunch. Hopping in our cars, we caravanned to DBA Barbecue Chastain in the old Greater Good BBQ spot by La Fonda on Roswell Road near Wieuca.

This is DBA Barbecue's second outpost following the longtime Virginia Highland location. Guy's wife, Patty, arrived early and snagged us a double table outside with umbrella coverage. Steve joined us. He can't hike, but he can eat––we know his priorities. Then Roy's wife Karlenne arrived. She finished up a new painting and took a break for lunch.

For most of the meal, Steve discussed dentistry and his extensive history of dental issues with the diners at the next table. His command of dental knowledge dazzled them, and they gleefully accepted his recommendation for a new dentist. Dental health is Steve's new mission, and he is spreading the word far and wide. Call it word of mouth. At least he didn't offer to floss diners.

The table decided on the "Whole House Combo Platter." It had everything the joint serves piled on it. The whole house. All of it. It looked like it would feed an army. (The photo is from their website and is a fraction of the food we received. When it descended upon us we were so stunned we forgot to take photographs.) Piggies that we are, we wiped it out except for the bread, which we only discovered at the end. Everything was good––beef brisket, wet and dry, delicious ribs, regular pulled pork and the spicy version, barbecue chicken, turkey, and two different styles of wings. Plus, sides. Collards, corn, slaw, and twice-fried fries. It was a mound of food we ate down to the platter. We were tempted to lick it clean, but apparently that is not acceptable behavior in polite society.

In the aftermath, the table looked like a zombie Armageddon. We felt terrible about leaving, but we're not trained in cleaning up crime scenes. After we left, they probably put body outlines of where we sat while eating.

We hope to get more of the team back together next week, off the injured reserve list, out of the office, and back on the trails where we belong. We're tired of trashing you guys behind your backs. It's more fun to do it to your face.

Rating: Four Ribs*

DBA Barbecue-Chastain

4441 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta GA 30342

*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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  • Pierre de Coubertin Medal

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  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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