The Episcopal Church of the Holy Family Campus is open to the public as a place for spiritual reflection, quiet solitude and the enjoyment of nature in an in-town setting. The 40 acre-Campus includes Nature and Historic Trails; two historic sites dated to the early 1800s and 1900s; the Labyrinth, the Fountain Garden, the Pavilion, the Memorial Garden, lakes and more.
You can read about the history of this property here.
There are signs marking the historic sites on the Ball Ground and Griffeth Trails.
Cherokee Ball Ground
The Cherokee Ball Ground, located on the west side of the church, dates to the early 1800s or before. The Ball Ground is several acres in size and is partially marked with a perimeter rock wall. The Cherokees played a ball game similar to lacrosse. Two villages with 12-18 players challenged each other to a game for money or other valuable items. The Cherokee name for the game was “Anetsa or Little Brother of War.” The game was rough with the players experiencing broken limbs, and sometimes death.
The rules were simple – no touching the ball with your hands. The ball was the size of a golf ball made of deer hide stuffed with deer hair. The player had to get the ball between the two goal posts using one or two hickory sticks with a pocket woven into the bent end. At each end of the field were two goal posts spaced ten feet apart. The first team to score 12 goals wins.
According to James Mooney, a noted anthropologist from the late 1800s, the last Cherokee Ball Game played in what is now Pickens County was held in 1834 between the villages of Hickory Log and Choosawattee. It is reported the village chief’s bet $1,000 each on the game outcome.
Griffeth Home Site
Caleb Griffeth, Sr. (1769 -1857), Caleb Griffeth, Jr. (1806 – 1868) and Stephen Griffeth, brother of Caleb Jr., were the first Griffeth’s to arrive in what is now Pickens County. They moved here around 1841. Caleb, Jr. built a home (circa 1842) parts of which are still located at the corner of Grandview and Cove Road across from the church property.
With the removal of the Cherokees in 1838, the Griffeth descendants began occupying territory from Grassy Knob (Mt. Oglethorpe) to Tate. The 1880 Census shows the Griffeths located in the Grassy Knob, Dug Road and Townsends Districts. The 1903 Pickens County Map, known as the Henley Map, shows district #1099 as being the Grassy Knob and Griffeth District.
In 1913, Hardy Griffeth, grandson of Caleb, Jr. built a home and barn on what is now the Holy Family Campus and farming this part of the Griffeth landholdings. The home site is located near the sharp bend in Griffith Road across from the Holy Family Conference Building. The farm remained in operation until around 1955. After the death of Hardy and his wife, the home and barn were totally destroyed by fire. The property was sold to the church in 1996.
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION SITES
The property has several locations available for spiritual reflection. These include the Labyrinth, a spiral-walking path for spiritual reflection based on an ancient design dating from before the time of Christ, a Fountain Garden with benches for quiet reflection and the Memorial Garden overlooking the Griffeth Lake. There are also many other benches along the trails for rest and solitude in the Holy Family acreage.
The use of the Labyrinth increased in the 12th century when Christians adopted it as a means to walk a spiritual journey in a small amount of space. Many of the early labyrinths were built on the floor of a church. Labyrinths were also located outside. The original labyrinth design dated to a time before Christ.
The Holy Family Labyrinth is a unique 60-foot diameter spiral pattern designed for wheelchair accessibility.
The person using the Labyrinth begins their spiritual walk from the outer edge of a large circle and walks inward following the spiral path to a center point. After reaching the center of the circle, the person begins a walk outwardly ending up at the point from which they started.
The walk into the center is a time for anticipation or an opportunity for preparation. It is a time for letting go of things no longer needed. It is a time for moving away from your past and into the future. The center of the Labyrinth is different for all who walk there. To some it is a place to meet God; to others, it is a place to meet Christ. For all, it is a place for spiritual meditation, a place for being in the middle of your journey and to prepare to go forth spiritually refreshed. On the way out, the walker thinks about those spiritual insights they learned in the center and begins to think about how to integrate the insights into their personal lives.
The Fountain Garden
The Fountain Garden was built at the entrance to the main church in 2004 as a memorial to several members and as a place for quiet reflection. This garden has two benches for enjoying the garden setting and the soothing noise of a bubbling fountain. The landscaping of the garden was designed to provide a semi-closed off environment in which a person can sit without being disturbed.
The Fountain Garden and Labyrinth are located adjacent to each other to provide places for spiritual reflection.
The Memorial Garden
The Memorial Garden is located in the upper meadow on the western side of the Holy Family property. The Memorial garden includes the Holy Family Columbarium, an outdoor church with an altar, and places to sit to observe the Griffeth Lake. The Griffeth Trail goes by the Memorial Garden following the lake and the perimeter of the meadow.
NATURE AND HISTORIC TRAILS
The Holy Family Nature and Historical Trails all begin and end at the trailhead located on the south side of the main church parking lot. A Kiosk Sign with information about the trails is located at the trailhead. There are four trails on the Holy Family property:
The Lake Trail 0.4 Mile
The Lake Trail is the shortest trail. The trail follows the small lake on the Holy Family Campus. Beginning at the trailhead (Kiosk sign), follow the trail a short distance to the south to the main junction. At the junction, the Lake Trail will turn right and follow the nature trail around the lake in a counter-clockwise manner.
After walking about 0.1 miles, the trail will turn left crossing over a footbridge onto the lake dam. Follow the trail across the lake dam to where it junctions with several trails. The Lake Trail will turn left at the junction and all the trails will follow the same path back to the trailhead. The Lake Trail continues eastward until it joins an old roadbed where the trail turns north with the lake to your left. In a short distance, another trail junction is reached where the Lake, Stations, and Griffeth Trails all turn left again heading back to the trailhead. When you reach the first trail junction, turn right and walk a short distance back to the trailhead.
Stations of the Cross Trail (Stations Trail) 0.6 Mile
The Stations of the Cross Trail was built to provide opportunities for Christians to walk the path of Christ in his final hours stopping periodically at one of the stations to reflect on his last moments. There are booklets at the trailhead to help you enjoy this experience.
The Stations Trail is also a nature trail on which the walker can enjoy a quiet, peaceful walk in the forest.
The Stations Trail follows much of the same path as the Lake Trail but goes further passing through one of the church’s meadows near the Griffeth home site. Head south from the trailhead to the junction point and then turn right following the orange trail markers. In about 0.1 miles, the Lake Trail will turn off to the left and the Stations Trail will continue to the west.
Along the pathway are located 14 Stations with a metal cross. Each of these locations is marked with the trail color.
After leaving the junction with the Lake Trail, the Stations Trail continues westerly for about 0.1 mile where the trail begins its descent into the meadow area. Upon reaching the meadow, the trail will cross over a small footbridge and go a very short distance where it makes a left turn joining the Griffeth Trail heading back to the east toward the lake. Follow the trail uphill where the trail will rejoin the Lake Trail and continue to the east circling the lake.
After rejoining the Lake Trail, the trail will head east to the old roadbed, and then circles left around the lake to the next trail junction where the trails will turn left back to the trailhead. Follow the trail markings back to the trailhead.
Ball Ground Trail 0.5 Mile
The Ball Ground Trail, for the most part, circles the Cherokee Indian Ball Ground in a counter-clockwise manner. Walking around something in a counter-clockwise fashion was a method the Cherokees honored an object or person.
The perimeter of the Cherokee Ball Ground can be found today by following the rock wall built around it. The wall can still be found on the northern, western and southern sides of the ball ground. The Griffeths built this wall when they farmed the land.
The Ball Ground Trail begins at the trailhead and heads south briefly where it turns left at the trails junction. The trail heads east for about 0.1 miles where it turns left again at the trail junction and old roadbed. The Ball Ground and Griffeth Trails parallel each other heading north circling the parking lot through the forested property. Near the NE corner of the church property, the trail encounters another old roadbed. For here, the trail bends to the west following the forested area between the church parking lot and Cove Road.
Continue west following the trail markers passing the opening in the forest at the north end of the church sanctuary. After passing this opening, you are now following the boundary of the Cherokee Ball Ground. A portion of the rock wall is visible at this end of the Ball Ground. The trail continues westerly for several hundred feet before turning south along the Ball Ground boundary.
After turning left again, the trail goes a short distance before crossing the church road where the trail now goes onto the Ball Ground and continues heading south. At the end of the opening in the Ball Ground is a historical sign providing information about the Cherokee Ball Field.
The trail continues westerly from the sign heading across a small footbridge and old roadbed. Continue west across the road to the trail junction where the Griffeth Trail turns off to the right. The Ball Ground Trail continues westerly for a short distance where the trail turns back to the east following the rock wall boundary. The trail goes several hundred feet along the rock wall and then veers to the right where it rejoins the Lake and Stations Trail. Follow the trail markers back the east to the trailhead.
Griffeth Trail 1.25 Mile
The Griffeth Trail circles the entire Holy Family property in a counter-clockwise fashion. The trail goes by the Cherokee Ball Ground, the upper and lower meadows, the Memorial Garden, the Pavilion, the Holy Family Conference Center, the Griffeth home site and the church lake.
The trail begins at the trailhead and heads south for a short distance where it turns left paralleling the Ball Ground Trail for about 0.3 miles. Follow the white trail markers until reaching the old roadbed and trail junction where the trail will turn to the left and head north. The trail heads off through the forested area east of the parking lot before bending to the west at the second old roadbed. From here the trail goes through the forested area between the parking lot and Cove Road and continues west until the trail turns back to the south.
After turning south, the trail follows the Ball Ground western boundary crossing over a small footbridge and another roadbed till it reaches the trail junction. At the junction, the Griffeth Trail turns right heading westward and exits out briefly on the church entrance road before crossing over Griffith Road into the upper meadow on a set of steps. At the top of the steps, turn right and follow the white stakes around the circumference of the meadow. The trail bends to the west to the Griffeth Lake and then turns southeast following the edge and marsh area of the lake.
The trail crosses over the large footbridge in the meadow then bends back to the southwest following the lake. At this point, the trail is just the north of the Memorial Garden. The trail follows the lake to the lake outlet where the trail now turns southeast and begins following the perimeter of the meadow and Memorial Garden. In about 100 feet, the trail will turn south following a pathway to the west of the Conference Building and Pavilion. The trail goes behind these structures and exits out onto a graveled road to the south of the Pavilion.
From here the trail turns left heading north along the church road toward the Griffeth home site. After crossing over Griffith Road again, the trail will go through the area that was the Griffeth home site. There is a historic marker at the home site. From here the trail follows a pathway in the meadow behind the home site and then turns eastward to begin following the church lake. The trail continues east along the lake till reaching the old roadbed where the trail bends to the north behind the lake. At the last trail junction, the Griffeth Trail turns back to the west until it reaches the trailhead.