Western Cohutta Exploration

  • Location: Cohutta Wilderness
  • Time: 2 days, 1 night, June
  • Temperatures: Low’s in the low 60’s, High’s in the high 80’s, clear weather

Finished up my second short trip in the Cohutta Wilderness this past weekend after not being able to get out for a while. I’m really liking the remote feel (for Georgia) of this Wilderness area. I haven’t seen more than a few people during either of my trips. The scenery has been primarily green tunnels around rivers, but the overlook from Panther Creek falls, which I visited on my first trip is pretty worthwhile, and the tranquil sound of a river is pretty hard to complain about.

conasauga

I started out from the southern terminus of the Conasauga River Trail late Friday night, hiking down the trail about 2 miles to the intersection of the trail with Chestnut Lead trail, and I camped there just as dark settled in.

I started the next morning with some exceptionally tasty doughnut holes and some Nido before starting my pretty damp day. The Conasauga River Trail crosses the Conasauga River a multitude of times during the length of it. Up to the intersection of Hickory Creek Trail, none of the crossings really go above knee height, making them pretty easy. However, having some sort of low cut gaiters could be helpful to help keep out debris. I’ve put in an order for some Dirty Girl Gaiters to see if those will work for the purpose.

Early in the day, I had the fairly rare (down here in GA at least) of running into a black bear. He was ambling down toward the trail across the river from me, right where I needed to cross, so decided to wait until he reached the trail to decide what to do. Luckily, he was a giant baby. He saw me, and I distinctly remember his eyes bulging to cartoon size before running away down the trail in fright. Unfortunately, he ran down the trail in the direction I needed to go, so I could be seen walking down the trail singing loudly to myself for the next half hour or so.

butterfly

I was hoping to hike nearly the entirely length of the Conasauga, but was turned back some pretty high river levels about a mile after the intersection of Hickory Creek Trail. So instead, I hooked a sharp right and did a little bushwhacking along Thomas Creek to meet up with Hickory Creek Trail farther west and north. The overgrown nature of the woods around here make bushwhacking an especially tiresome and fun time, so need a good break by the end of it, stopping to read for a while and cook an early dinner around 5.

From here I went north up towards Rice Camp, where I once again stopped for some snackage and some quality time with the Kindle. At this point, my plan was to hike south along East Cowpen down to FS-64, and then do a bit of road hiking to the car. I had thought about camping out another night for this portion as well, but I really have come to not enjoy East Cowpen as an environment covered in ticks, so preferred not to camp there. That, along with a lot of excitement that my legs still felt great lead me to finishing out the hike that night.

I’m still trying to grasp my current level of fitness and the health of my knees, so keep planning my trips on the short side.  I’m looking into a longer trip soon though to explore some of the areas I haven’t gotten to yet in the wilderness and will hopefully pull some sort of document together will trail descriptions specific to backpacking, as I had some trouble finding that sort of thing on Cohutta.

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3 thoughts on “Western Cohutta Exploration

  1. I so badly want to ride my bike around the Cohutta area, but know nothing of the trails there. I’m told there are some killer gravel double-track roads up there…

    1. I still never got into bikepacking, mainly because I am not very good at mountain biking and didn’t have many friends who were into the idea either. Also because of that, the Cohutta area is still my first thought of a good beginner trip. I have the Springer & Cohutta Mountains NatGeo map (777), and it shows most of the roads and trails in that area. From my research and driving around there, most all of the roads are dirt and gravel. This means that someone could make a great beginner trip out of the area around it. One idea I had was even doing a circumnavigation of the wilderness area, with a hike a bike on one of the trails to finish it. Seemed like a noob’s way to get the whole experience in 2 or 3 days. If you wanted to make it more of a technical challenge, you could use some of the Pinhoti as well.

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