The Cohutta Wilderness

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From Blue Ridge : From the intersection of US 76 and GA 5 just north of Blue Ridge, travel north 7 miles on GA 5 to Old Highway 2 and turn left. At 6.9 miles are Fightingtown Creek and McKinney Crossing. At 9 miles the pavement ends. Way up the mountain at 10.5 miles, look for the sign "Cohutta Wildlife Management Area, Watson Gap." Stay left on FS 64. Dyer Gap is 17.6 miles to the left on FS 64. Continue on FS 64. Where FS 64-A forks to the left, stay on FS 64 to the right. At 18.3 miles, cross the south fork of the Jacks River. At 18.4 miles, FS 64-B intersects on the left. At 20.2 miles, the Mountain Town Creek trail head is on the left. At 22.9 miles are the Three Forks and East Cowpen railheads.

From Ellijay: From the Ellijay Square, travel west on GA 52 for 9.5 miles to FS 18. There is a sign for Lake Conasauga Recreation Area; turn right. After 1.3 miles the pavement ends. At the fork, bear left over a one-lane bridge. At 3.5 miles turn sharply to the right onto FS 68. At 4.5 miles is a good picnic area, and at 5.7 miles is Holly Creek Checking Station. At 6 miles is a three-way junction with FS 64. Stay on FS 68 (to the left). Barnes Creek Picnic Area for day use is at 7.2 miles; a wooden platform extends out over a small waterfall. At 9.5 miles is the intersection marked Potato Patch Mountain on the map.

From Eton : One of the most rewarding approaches to the wilderness, the valley drive along the creek on a sunny day is a great choice. From Chatsworth take US 411 4.2 miles north to Eton. Turn right at the traffic light onto Fourth Avenue (GA 286 ends here). At 1.1 miles, Grassy Mountain intersects from the left. At 1.5 miles, the road forks at T. P.'s Country Store; bear left on the CCC Camp Road. At 5.1 miles, the road passes through a scenic valley with Fort, Beaver, and Tatum mountains in the background. The pavement ends at 6 miles and the road becomes FS 18. At 7 miles is the start of a nice drive along a creek. At 7.2 miles, the view looking upstream through the trees at Holly Creek is breathtaking. At 10 miles is the intersection of FS 18 and FS 68. From this point, refer to the Ellijay Access (above) beginning at 3.5 miles.

From Crandall : take US 411 north 7.5 miles through Eton to Grassy Street; turn right. Cross railroad tracks and turn right. Take the first left at .1 mile (Mill Creek Road, FS 630). There is a sign for Lake Conasauga. The paved road ends at .5 mile. At 6.7 miles is Hickey Gap. At 8.9 miles is intersection with FS 17.

From Cisco : take US 411 north 13.2 miles to Cisco community and intersection with Old Highway 2 (also known as FS 16). At .7 mile pass County Road 169 on the right. The pavement ends 1 mile. Take the right fork at the intersection at 1.6 miles. (County Road 210 bears left.) At 3.2 miles, FS 17 comes in from the right, FS 16 goes left. Follow FS 16 just across the Tennessee state line to the northwestern trail head of the Jacks River Trail. (FS 51 branches to the right just after crossing the river. Stay left on FS 16.)

The third largest mountain wilderness area in the East, the Cohutta Wilderness covers, approximately 60 square miles or 36,977 acres crossing the Georgia/Tennessee border and being a part of the 95,265-acre Cohutta Wildlife Management Area. It was designated as a wilderness in 1975.

The Cohutta's share a unique distinction with the Rich Mountains in having round, flat-topped ridges and peaks covered with deep, black soils. This characteristic of the Cohutta's profoundly affects the plant communities. Rich-soil ridges are often carpeted with a wide variety of ferns and knee-high herbs. The wilderness is home to a variety of wildlife. such as deer ,black bears, wild boars, bobcats, squirrels and the occasional but not verified Panther.

T. P.'s Country Store and Greg's General Store display the trophies of local hunters and are good places to get a close-up look at some of the kinds of creatures that inhabit the Cohutta's.

Logging was a huge industry early in the Cohutta's white man's history. 70 percent of the area was logged between 1915 and 1930. Three or four logging camps, employing 80 to 100 men each, were operated simultaneously in the area. Railroads were built by hand and ran up the Jacks and Conasauga rivers. Trestles built over the river often were washed away by floods. Bunk cars were winched up hillsides. Logs were skidded out with horses, and cable logging was done in the areas inaccessible by horses.

Logging was completed in the Conasauga River drainage in 1928 and started along the Jacks River in 1929. The Depression halted logging for about three years. During that time the loggers worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps building some of the facilities still used in the area. After the Depression, the Beech Creek, Rough Creek, Rock Wall, Poplar Creek, and Penitentiary Creek areas were logged.

While in operation, the Conasauga River Lumber Company sawed 80,000 board feet a day. It was from this company that the U.S. Forest Service acquired a large portion of the area in 1934 and 1935. The railroads were dismantled in 1937. Remnants of ties and trestles can still be found today. You can occasionally find steel support rods, dynamite drills in rocks, spikes, cables, horseshoes, and old building foundations. Farms have reverted back to forests, roads have been turned into the Conasauga River hiking trails, and the area is returning to the way it was when only Native Americans roamed these mountains.

Trail heads are generally well marked and parking areas are provided. All of the roads that border the wilderness are in paved one-lane roads. They are wide enough for two cars to pass carefully. Beware of Curves as they are sharp and hard to see around. The road surface can be rough in some spots, creating a washboard effect. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are your best choice, however most cars in good condition will have little trouble in good weather. Some roads are closed depending on weather conditions, so it is recommended that one call the Cohutta Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service at (706) 695-6737 in advance of a trip to check road conditions.

Activities: hiking, camping ,fishing, horseback riding, ATV, ORV

For more information:

Some roads are closed depending on weather conditions, so it is recommended that one call the Cohutta Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service at (706) 695-6737 in advance of a trip to check road conditions.