The Park Its History, Trees, and Birds and Trail Map
Learn about the park you love!
The Park's History
Briarlake Forest Park is located in Districts 1 and 2 of central DeKalb County. This rare urban forest consists of an old home site and a 21 acres of land, much of it old growth forest, that was originally part of a 100 acre land lot. The Creek Indians inhabited this area of DeKalb County until they were forcibly removed in the early 1820s. The land in this area was then divided into land lots that were either awarded by a lottery or later sold. According to local resident Grace Gresham Flowers, in 1850, the first home was built on the current home site that is now part of Briarlake Forest Park . In the 20th century and for nearly 100 years, only two families had ownership of the property – the Gresham family and later the Cathey family. According to Grace Gresham Flowers’ memoirs, her grandparents, John and Alma Gresham purchased the 100 acre land lot #192 in 1918, and settled on the property that is now part of Briarlake Forest Park. The Gresham’s subsequently sold the property to Charles Cathey Sr. and his wife Lenora in 1949. In July 2015, DeKalb County purchased the property, which consists of three separate parcels, as greenspace in July of 2015.
While portions of the park have been impacted over the years by human and natural activities, a great deal of the land and trees have remained fairly undisturbed. This is evidenced by some of the older specimen trees, most notably the 250 year old white oak that stands majestically next to the old yellow house and the great beech trees at the corner of Amberwood Drive and Briarlake Road. The site also shows evidence of its agrarian history. There are still remnants of terracing from when the land was farmed on both the south side of the 15.5 acre parcel where it borders the backyards of houses along Blackwood Road and on the 3.3 acre eastern parcel that abuts Silverpine Trail.