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  1. #1
    Registered User cneill13's Avatar
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    Default Cohutta Wilderness Loop Question

    I am planning on hiking a 21 mile(ish) loop this weekend in the Cohutta Wilderness in North Georgia.

    I'll park at Three Forks, hike north on the East Cowpen Trail to Panther Creek Trail.

    I will then turn west onto Panther Creek and hike it until it meets Hickory Creek Trail.

    The problem is that is doesn't look like Panther Creek and Hickory Creek Trail meet. At least on my map.

    If I can get onto Hickory Creek Trail, I plan to hike it north to East Cowpen and then take East Cowpen south back to the Three Forks parking lot completing the loop.

    Has anyone hiked this part of the Cohutta that might be able to give me some information? Specifically, can I access Hickory Creek Trail from Panther Creek Trail or possibly Tearbritches Trail?

    Thanks in advance for any feedback I can get. Looking forward to this hike but I have never explored this part of Georgia yet.

    Carl

  2. #2

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    i don't know these specific trails but was in the Cohutta wilderness this past weekend. Many of the water sources are dry so carry extra water.

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    No....Panther and hickory don't meet....

    but it they are close by...

    after coming down Panther creek---it's a steep one---cross the river (ford) and hang a right on conasauga river trail and hickory is a couple of tenths of a mile away...

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    TNHIcker

    That is what I was worried about but not too big a deal. I want to stick with trails along water as the Ridge trails are totally dry.

    Could you tell me how wide or deep the river is?

    Thanks for the help. I really appreciate it.

    Carl

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    When I did it---the river was just about mid shin...

    enough where I could not rock hop or not get wet trying....

    and its maybe 12-15 feet across...

    its to not a bad crossing----I wouldn't let it inferere with your route....

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    Thanks again for the comments

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    The loop I did was take hickory creek trail from the parking lot near the end of east Cowpen----then down to the river and hit Panther creek and go up it...and then east Cowpen back over to parking lot...

    great camping areas near the river along with at the top of Panther creek falls....

    the falls is a great place to watch the sunset....

    after I left Panther creek----I didn't see any water along east Cowpen (and this was in a year not as dry as this year)

  8. #8
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    I am worried about the water situation. It is so incredibly dry in Georgia.

    I think I might bag the hike and camp out along Panther creek.

    Wait until some good rains come in.

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    If Hurricane Matthew dumps a few inches of rain, it may no longer be dry!
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

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    Your Loop is this: East Cowpen Trail, Panther Creek Trail, Conasauga River Trail, Hickory Creek Trail, East Cowpen Trail.

    Hiking it in the direction you're hiking is going to give you water problems on your second night.

    There might be some where at Panther Creek Falls or the stream downstream. There will be plenty of water in the Conasauga River (the trail follows the river for a mile). The Hickory Creek Trail does NOT follow Hickory Creek. It crosses it and a number of other small creeks (Thomas Creek, Broke Jug Creek, etc.) I crossed most of those streams on September 8 at their mouths (while hiking Conasauga River Trail) and they were all exceedingly low. I have serious doubts whether you will find any water on Hickory Creek Trail after fording the Conasauga. You might, but you might not. After that there will be no water for the rest of your hike (East Cowpen is a ridge crest trail that doesn't have water except after hard winter rains).

    A better way to do a similar 14-mile loop would be this: Park at the lower end of East Cowpen Trail, hike about five or six miles up East Cowpen, go down Panther Creek Trail to the falls to camp on night one (you will possibly find water at or just above the falls; if it's completely dry, just hike another few miles down to the Conasauga River to guaranteed water). On the second day, take it relatively easy and just move down the Conasauga River Trail to it's junction with Hickory Creek Trail at Bray Fields. Camp there. Enjoy the beauty and the abundant water. On day three, hike the remaining 5.8 miles to your car. (I'll be hiking this in reverse on October 17 for a long day hike.)

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    Hurricane Matthew will have absolutely no affect on the Cohutta Wilderness with regard to precipitation.

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    The Conasauga will be ankle or maybe shin deep at both crossings (Panther Creek Trail and Hickory Creek Trail).

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    A better way to do a similar 14-mile loop would be this: Park at the lower end of East Cowpen Trail, hike about five or six miles up East Cowpen, go down Panther Creek Trail to the falls to camp on night one (you will possibly find water at or just above the falls; if it's completely dry, just hike another few miles down to the Conasauga River to guaranteed water). On the second day, take it relatively easy and just move down the Conasauga River Trail to it's junction with Hickory Creek Trail at Bray Fields. Camp there. Enjoy the beauty and the abundant water. On day three, hike the remaining 5.8 miles to your car. (I'll be hiking this in reverse on October 17 for a long day hike.)



    i was thinking the same thing........changing the route...

    get off that ridge and down to the water......

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    Apologies if this has already been said, but just an FYI,-- there is a road closure you might want to be aware of. FS #64 is closed between the Three Forks Trailhead and the Jacks River Fields Campground. I found out Sunday when I was there.

    Up-to-date info (and maps) available from the Conasauga Ranger District. 706-695-6736.
    Last edited by Rain Man; 10-07-2016 at 10:25.
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    Apologies if this has already been said, but just an FYI,-- there is a road closure you might want to be aware of. FS #64 is closed between the Three Forks Trailhead and the Jacks River Fields Campground. I found out Sunday when I was there.

    Up-to-date info (and maps) available from the Conasauga Ranger District. 706-695-6736.
    I pulled a long winter trip a couple years ago in the Cohutta and pulled all these trails we're talking about. I even took the BMT south past Watson Gap and on the South Fork of the Jacks I crossed and got on the northern terminus of the Pinhoti trail which took me to Buddy Cove Gap and a roadwalk on forest road 64 to Three Forks Mt and my return to the Cohutta on the Cowpen trail. See---

    https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backp...utta/i-FjBK6LF

    If you pull Cowpen from the 3 Forks side you'll intersect Rough Ridge trailhead on the right which may have a flowing spring not too far down the this trail. It also has a good campsite.

    And on Cowpen there's an excellent campsite at the Panther Creek trail jct where I have camped several times. I dayhiked from camp one day and went down Panther trail and found water off the mountain in a dry gully which had a few pools.


    Here's the jct with the BMT and the Pinhoti northern terminus just south of Watson Gap. By taking Pinhoti south you reach forest road 64 and Buddy Cove Gap and a roadwalk on 64 to Three Forks Mt.


    Here is the Gap where you make a right and hike up to Three Forks Mt.


    The roadwalk on forest road 64 (now closed and always closed in the winter).


    My roadwalk ends here at Three Forks Mt and the start of the East Cowpen Trail.


    After hiking on East Cowpen a ways you reach the Rough Ridge trail jct heading to the right. If you follow this trail a ways you'll reach a spring water source and a good campsite---though the source is probably dry right this minute.



    Here is the nice camping area where Panther Creek trail jcts East Cowpen.

  16. #16

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    Oh and btw, you can easily connect Three Forks and East Cowpen with Betty Gap and the headwaters to Conasauga River by pulling the 64 roadwalk. See---

    https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backp...nnie/i-7NDgBGN


    Here's the 64 roadwalk between Three Forks Mt and Betty Gap.



    Betty Gap and the trailhead down to Conasauga River.


    Btw, when you leave Three Forks Mt on the East Cowpen trailhead you see this sign which is a trail veering off the Rough Ridge trail further up ahead. The Sugar Cove trail used to connect the BMT by Jacks River (if you go up Jacks from the Sugar Cove jct and hit the BMT near Dally Gap) and so it was a good way to connect the BMT/Jacks to East Cowpen/Panther without a roadwalk. Alas, the trail has been closed.


    When you get on the Rough Ridge trail from East Cowpen you eventually hit this spot which is the Sugar Cove trailhead. I hiked down the trail a ways (there's water not far) and the trail starts right behind my pack although it's overgrown but could be followed probably all the way down to Jacks River.

  17. #17
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    Wow. I had no idea 64 shut for the winter. That is like the main artery to the parking areas.

    Thanks Rain Man and Tipi. You saved me a lot of trouble.

    I am going to have to rethink this trip. Not working out as expected.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Oh and btw, you can easily connect Three Forks and East Cowpen with Betty Gap and the headwaters to Conasauga River by pulling the 64 roadwalk. See---

    https://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backp...nnie/i-7NDgBGN


    Here's the 64 roadwalk between Three Forks Mt and Betty Gap.



    Betty Gap and the trailhead down to Conasauga River.


    Btw, when you leave Three Forks Mt on the East Cowpen trailhead you see this sign which is a trail veering off the Rough Ridge trail further up ahead. The Sugar Cove trail used to connect the BMT by Jacks River (if you go up Jacks from the Sugar Cove jct and hit the BMT near Dally Gap) and so it was a good way to connect the BMT/Jacks to East Cowpen/Panther without a roadwalk. Alas, the trail has been closed.


    When you get on the Rough Ridge trail from East Cowpen you eventually hit this spot which is the Sugar Cove trailhead. I hiked down the trail a ways (there's water not far) and the trail starts right behind my pack although it's overgrown but could be followed probably all the way down to Jacks River.
    Tipi, Is Sugar Cove trail the trail at Dally Gap on FS 22 that links up to the BMT at Spanish Oak Gap?

  19. #19
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    Sugar Cove Trail is closed and all signs removed. I don't believe the Forest Service ever plans to restore or maintain the trail. Of course, hikers can still bushwhack the terrain, along with anywhere else in the Cohuttas. But as a dedicated trail, Sugar Cove ceased to exist a few years ago.

    Sugar Cove Trail was an interior trail with no road access. To reach its higher end, the closest route was to park at Three Forks, hike up East Cowpen Trail about 0.5 miles, then down Rough Ridge Trail a few miles. The upper Sugar Cove trailhead was on the Rough Ridge Trail. From there, Sugar Cove descended very, very steeply for about 2 or 3 miles to the Jacks River. At that point, the quickest return route was up the Jacks River Trail (with numerous fords) back a parking area on the forest service road (I can't remember the landmark, but it might be Dally Gap?).

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Roper View Post
    Sugar Cove Trail is closed and all signs removed. I don't believe the Forest Service ever plans to restore or maintain the trail. Of course, hikers can still bushwhack the terrain, along with anywhere else in the Cohuttas. But as a dedicated trail, Sugar Cove ceased to exist a few years ago.

    Sugar Cove Trail was an interior trail with no road access. To reach its higher end, the closest route was to park at Three Forks, hike up East Cowpen Trail about 0.5 miles, then down Rough Ridge Trail a few miles. The upper Sugar Cove trailhead was on the Rough Ridge Trail. From there, Sugar Cove descended very, very steeply for about 2 or 3 miles to the Jacks River. At that point, the quickest return route was up the Jacks River Trail (with numerous fords) back a parking area on the forest service road (I can't remember the landmark, but it might be Dally Gap?).
    Thank you for the clarification, it's driving me crazy that I can't remember the name of the 0.8 mi section of trail that takes you from Dally Gap to meet up with the BMT...is it the JRT?

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