Coosa Backcountry Trail

Coosa Backcountry Trail
Coosa Backcountry Trail

Coosa Backcountry Trail: The build up.

I’ve read a lot about the Coosa Backcountry Trail and have seen many different accounts of the trail. Some say 12 miles, some say 13.4, some say 12.9 and so on. One point everyone usually agrees on is that this hike is very strenuous and not to try it in one day.

We had been planning on doing the Coosa Backcountry Trail for some time, but something always came up and we had to postpone. In the beginning, it was not having all the gear we wanted, sometimes it was work and other times the weather would monkey wrench us. This time was different. We had our gear, work stayed out of the way and the weather was perfect. We had a green light and our foot was on the accelerator.

Coosa Backcountry Trail: Arrival at Vogel State Park

We arrived at Vogel State Park and acquired our permit from the visitor center. The permit is free and all we had to do was fill it out with our departure and return dates, then put it on the dash of the car. The park volunteer jokingly told us that if we weren’t back in a couple of weeks that they would come looking.

We went out to the car to get the rest of gear situated and put on our packs. We left the visitor center parking lot and turned left on the paved road and headed toward the campground.  After passing a few cottages there was a trailhead sign and set of stairs to the right. There was a ranger standing there talking to a park volunteer and we asked them to take our picture. After getting our picture taken we headed up the trail following the green blazes to the approach to the Coosa Backcountry Trail.

Coosa Backcountry Trail
Approach to the Coosa Backcountry Trail
Coosa Backcountry Trail
Coosa Backcountry Trailhead

Coosa Backcountry Trail: The Hike

Shortly after leaving the park we came to the trailhead. Here, the Bear Hair Trail leaves left and the Coosa BackcountryTrail to the right. We crossed Burnett Branch on a small footbridge and headed into Burnett Gap following a small feeder stream. As the trail ascended into Burnett Gap with Sheriff’s Knob on the right and Sosebee Cove to the left. At about a mile and a half we came upon a small waterfall on the right and the stream flowed across the trail.  After a short stint, we crossed Forest Road 180, the trail leveled out a bit, and there was a small campsite on the left. The trail started its descent deeper into Sosebee Cove and we came upon a log footbridge crossing a streamlet.

Coosa Backcountry Trail
Small waterfall

 

Coosa Backcountry Trail
Campsite on the Coosa Backcountry Trail
Coosa Backcountry Trail
Log footbridge

The trail continued its descent and we came across a couple of campers taking advantage of a sweet little campsite on the left. As we continued northeast there was a small catwalk at about 3.25 miles where we stopped to fill up with some fresh water. After filtering some water and filling up a couple pouches to be filtered later, we continued on. Shortly after filling up we came to a defunct catwalk right before the footbridge crossing West Fork Creek. Right after the footbridge, there was a campsite to right and we crossed Forest Road 107.

Coosa Backcountry Trail
We filled up with water here

The climb to Locust Stake Gap

Here, the trail immediately ascended back into the forest and headed northwest toward Locust Stake Gap. Hiking a bit further there was a campsite to the left marked with a small cairn and one to the right as well. We crossed a small stream and noticed a double green blaze. Then the trail made a turn to the right. I believe that this is a reroute because there was an old trail off to the left where the double blaze was.

There are two campsites here with a water source.

The trail continued to climb along the creek and we reached a switchback where there was a fresh blowdown obstructing the trail at 3.74 miles. There was a reroute, but we still had to crawl on our hands and knees through a small hole between the ground and the tree branch. The hole led straight back to the trail where we saw a reassuring green blaze. I also saw an old blue blaze under the green one, which made me curious. I know the Coosa Backcountry Trail was blazed yellow in the past, but I’ve never heard anything about blue.

Pretty fresh blow down obstructing the trail.

We continued our climb and I noticed an old jeep trail that headed to the left.  We reached another switch back where the Forest Service Boundary is. Here the trees and a rock are painted red and there are yellow signs that read “Land Survey Monument and Forest Service Boundary.” The map shows that this is the separation between districts ten and sixteen.

Survey Monument

Locust Stake Gap to Calf Stomp Gap

After a very short but welcomed descent, we made it to the ridgeline at Locust Stake Gap. There is a nice little campsite here on the right at 4.6 miles. To the left is Sosebee Cove.

Coosa Backcountry Trail
Campsite at Locust Stake Gap

The Coosa Backcountry Trail now heads southwest and again makes a climb toward Calf Stomp Gap. We continued to ascend the ridgeline and the trail just kept climbing. As soon as you think you are making some serious headway and have reached the top, nope, another turn with yet another ascent.  Although, once we reached the halfway point between Locust Stake and Calf Stomp Gaps there was a crest, and for about five hundred feet, it was somewhat flat. Those five hundred feet were like a vacation that ended too soon, and the climbing started again.

Just before Calf Stomp Gap, the trail veers left and heads east for about four hundred feet and then switches back south for another climb to Calf Stomp. The next stop is Forest Service Road 108 where there is a campsite to the right. We stopped here to have a snack, take a short break and decide what our plan for the rest of day was. We knew that there was another campsite with a water source not too far after we returned to the trail.

What’s next?

When our break was over, we crossed the road and began the next chapter of climbing. After walking for a bit, I could start to hear the stream in the distance and we hoped we were getting close to where we would retire for the night. We found the stream and the campsite to the right, but after investigation, the campsite turned out to be dismal at best. If we would have had our tent instead of our hammocks and tarp it could have worked but it still wouldn’t have been great.

I noticed that there was an old jeep track that headed parallel between the stream and the Coosa BackcountryTrail in the same direction we had just come, so I decided that we should follow it back to the road. I knew from my map that the stream crossed FS Road 108 and thought that there might be another campsite near there. The jeep track met the road and we headed left to find where the stream crossed it. There was an overgrown campsite there but it was close to the road and we deemed it unsuitable for our purposes.

We doubled back to the Coosa Backcountry Trail and made our way back up the hill past the dismal campsite (basically making a loop) and followed the stream to its source. Once there, we regrouped and discussed our options. Since this was the last water source on the trail until Wolf Creek, we decided to filter as much water as we could and fill up our extra pouches and press on.

Coosa Bald or Bust

We decided to go for broke and head for Coosa Bald. Surely there had to be a sweet spot to camp on the summit of that mountain that gives this trail its name. So we pressed on switch backing from one side of the ridgeline to the other gaining elevation. The water added 8.5 pounds to my pack and I was really feeling the extra weight on my legs as we made the slow ascent to Coosa Bald.

The trail headed southwest up the knob just below the top of Coosa Bald and we found a really sweet campsite on the left that over looked the valley below. We considered staying there, but we really wanted to make it to the top of Coosa Bald, so we moved on.

We made it to the intersection of the Coosa Backcountry Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail, and caught a ride on the Duncan Ridge Trail heading northwest to the summit of Coosa Bald.  This was the last climb of the day and we were ready to make camp for the night. After a long day of practically all uphill hiking, this last climb was welcomed yet tiring.

Coosa Backcountry Trail
Where Coosa meets Duncan

The hard earned reward of Coosa Bald

After a very long day, we made it to the summit of Coosa Bald. When you reach the top there is a spectacular rock outcrop to the left and two campsites just off the trail to the right. Both campsites are definitely prime spots and we ended up choosing the second.  Reaching the top of Coosa Bald was amazingly rewarding and although we were tired, the adrenaline of our accomplishment kept us going.

Coosa Bald
Taking the load off
Coosa Bald
That’s Right!!

Our next steps were to set up our tarp and hammocks, find a hanging tree for our food and gather firewood. We had our backpacking stoves to cook with, but we really wanted the novelty of a campfire. Marcie helped me with the tarp and then she collected some kindling to get us started with the firewood gathering. After the initial set up, I made some evening coffee to give us a little boost for the final chores of the evening.

Coosa Bald
Building our shelter
Coosa Bald
Our home for the night

We made some ramen and tuna for our dinner and ate while as the sun dipped from the horizon. Then we consolidated all of our food, food related trash and packed it into Marcie’s sleeping bag stuff sack and hung it from the tree we found.

Coosa Bald
Time for coffee

At this point, the hammocks were calling our names and we decided to lay down. After our long day of hiking, it felt really good to be suspended in the horizontal position. We talked for a bit about the day and soon drifted off to sleep.

Good morning Coosa Bald

I woke up at around 7:30 in the morning after a restless night’s sleep. It dipped down into the mid 50’s and the wind picked something fierce that night. I would never have thought at the end of July it would have gotten that cold. However, we were above four thousand feet and funny things happen in the mountains.

I got up and lowered the food from the tree and put on some coffee for myself and ate a mini pecan pie that I brought for my breakfast. These suckers have 480 calories each and only cost fifty cents at Wal-Mart. As I was finishing my first pie and my pot of coffee, Marcie woke and I made a pot for her. Marcie had some breakfast and then we packed up our gear and said farewell to Coosa Bald.

Coosa Bald
Duncan Ridge blaze

Coosa Backcountry Trail: Day Two

We followed the Duncan Ridge trail southeast off of Coosa Bald to the trail intersection and headed south toward Wildcat Gap. The Coosa Backcountry Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail share the same track at this point and the trail is blazed green and blue. The trail heads down the spur on a wide, very steep and rocky track into Wildcat Gap. The trail is obviously an old wagon/jeep trail from years past.

Coosa Backcountry Trail
Back on the Coosa Backcountry Trail
There were wildflowers like this on both sides of the trail

After reaching Wildcat Gap, we came to Duncan Ridge Rd and veered left. The trail picked up in about two hundred feet on the left side of the road and was marked and blazed with both colors. The trail now becomes a single track path and starts a gentle climb across the eastern slope of Wildcat Knob. After we crossed the eastern slope, the trail made a right and headed west across the southern slope of the knob, switched back east and then south again. Heading south the trail switchbacks multiple times downhill into Wolfpen Gap. Just after the last switchback, there is an old jeep trail that heads downhill and from the map, it appears to be an old portion of the Coosa Backcountry Trail.

Double blazed

We crossed Wolfpen Gap and came to the road crossing at GA 180. This was second time crossing GA 180 since we started our hike and we hadn’t seen a paved road since we crossed it the first time just after leaving Vogel State Park. There was a dirt road on the left heading north and a gravel road to the right heading north into the Cooper Creek Wildlife Management Area. Straight across GA 180 was the trail connection. After we crossed GA 180, the trail immediately makes a sharp left and there is a trail marker hidden in the brush. We were now entering the Blood Mountain Wilderness.

Coosa Backcountry Trail
Time for some climbing
You have been warned

On to Slaughter Mountain

The trail immediately started to climb at this point and was very tough going for over a mile. We were heading up the ridgeline toward Slaughter Mountain gaining elevation every step of the way. The area is so beautiful, but it was difficult to really enjoy a lot of the scenery due to having to put one foot in front of the other and keep on trucking. It was really just our exhaustion lingering from the day before that made this so tough. This would be just like another moderate day hike if done on its own, but adding in the lack of sleep and sore muscles really made it a full blown workout.

We finally made it up the ridgeline to the top of the knob just north of the summit of Slaughter Mountain and we were worked over. We were now over the four thousand foot mark again and it felt like we had gotten into a fist fight with a bear. It was really nice to start the descent into the saddle between the knob and the summit of Slaughter Mountain. The trail leveled out for a bit while on the saddle and then relatively speaking started a gentle ascent to the eastern slope of Slaughter Mountain. The trail pretty much leveled out across the slope and there were some sweet rock outcrops to the right and some nice views into the valley below on the left.

Coosa Backcountry Trail
Geeking out with the clinometer
Outcrop

The descent into Slaughter Gap was definitely welcomed at this point and I knew that our climbing for this trip was over. I knew we were coming up on the intersection where the Duncan Ridge Trail leaves the Coosa Backcountry Trail, but I got a little confused for a moment because we hit a switchback that wasn’t on the map. I looked at my compass and we were heading northwest, which made me wonder if we had missed the intersection somehow. I was aware the Coosa Backcountry Trail heads north after parting with the Duncan Ridge and figured it was a reroute. As soon as I had made that conclusion we came to the intersection. After looking at the track on my phone when I got home, I realized that it was definitely a reroute. This entire portion of the Coosa Backcountry Trail was rerouted years ago to reduce the impact on the Blood Mountain Wilderness after years of the area being over utilized.

Reroute

There is a nice campsite on the left at the intersection of Coosa Backcountry Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail.

The Duncan Ridge Trail leaves south and heads deeper into the Blood Mountain Wilderness and meets up with Appalachian Trail. The Coosa Backcountry Trail heads northeast at this point switch backing its way to the Bear Hair Trail and meeting Wolf Creek.

Coosa Backcountry Trail
Goodbye Duncan Ridge
Intersection Campsite

The Last Stretch

After leaving the Duncan Ridge Trail, the Coosa Backcountry Trail continues its descent switch backing further into the valley and the scenery was beautiful as we made our way down. We came across a mountain laurel that looked manicured like it should be a shade tree in our yard. It looked like it would make a nice little spot to sit and relax for a bit on a hot day and enjoy a snack, but we continued on.

Nature is just cool

As the trail continues to switchback into the valley, it’s kind of all over the place, dipping south, veering left, and then veering right for one last dip south and then twisting back north to reach a feeder stream of Wolf Creek. The trail follows the stream on the right and then veers to the south switchbacking a couple more times and comes to another feeder stream where it meets the Bear Hair Trail. The Bear Hair Trail heads left to the north and the Coosa Backcountry Trail heads northeast cutting through some boulders and then crosses the original feeder stream and Wolf Creek forms on the right.

The trail follows the stream on the right and then veers to the south switchbacking a couple more time and comes to another feeder stream where it meets the Bear Hair Trail. The Bear Hair Trail heads left to the north and the Coosa Backcountry Trail heads northeast cutting through some boulders and then crosses the original feeder stream where Wolf Creek is formed in conjunction with two other streams.

Feeder Stream
Bear Hair intersection
These boulders are awesome
Crossing the stream

Wolf Creek runs parallel to the Coosa Backcountry trail on the right for a while and the trail is now double blazed with green rectangles and diamonds. We passed an old hollowed out tree trunk filled with river rocks and had little cairns stacked on it. Soon we came to another stream crossing and reached the wilderness boundary where we crossed back into district sixteen and left the Blood Mountain Wilderness. The trail curves left to head north to re-enter Vogel State park.

Double blaze
Old tree trunk filled and surrounded by river rocks.
Yes, I’m a map geek

 

The end of our journey

Conclusion

The Coosa Backcountry Trail was a very challenging and rewarding hike that definitely tested our endurance. The feeling of accomplishment we received was matched only by our level of exhaustion.

I read a lot about this trail and we had it in our sights for a long time. The reports and recommendation that this trail should be done as a backpacking trip are definitely right, in the sense that to truly enjoy the scenery you should take your time. I would actually have liked to take three days to hike this trail. The Coosa Backcountry trail is the kind of hike that you need to keep your momentum going as you climb, especially if breaking it into two parts. If it was broken into three days at four to five-mile sections, there would be a lot more time to stop and smell the roses and see the sights. We did it overnight to test ourselves and for the workout.

We want to do this trail several more times with different approaches in the future. The next time we want to try for a one-day attempt maybe doing the trail clockwise. With over twenty pounds on our backs, this trail was difficult, but with day packs, this trail could definitely be done as an endurance testing day hike. I would also like to take my time and enjoy it in the fall when the leaves have dropped to see the many vistas this trail has to offer.

If you haven’t experienced the Coosa Backcountry trail, it is definitely a must hike. However, for the beginner, I recommend you do this trail with an experienced hiker and take your time. The Coosa Backcountry trail could be just what you need to thrust you from beginner to intermediate over the course of a weekend.

So get out there, have fun, be safe and ALWAYS, LEAVE NO TRACE!!

Cohutta Wilderness Loop Trail

Cohutta Wilderness Loop
Cohutta Wilderness

A tough start to the Cohutta Wilderness and the Tearbritches Trail

On Forest Road 68 in the Chattahoochee National Forest’s Cohutta Wilderness is a loop consisting of three trails: Tearbritches, Conasauga River, and the Chestnut Lead. Each of these trails has its own character to speak of.

Our hike began with a road walk from the Chestnut Lead Trailhead parking area. We walked west uphill for about a mile and a half on Forest Road 68 until we came to Tearbritches Trailhead. The Emery Creek Trailhead is on the left and Tearbritches is on the right.

We headed northeast on the trail beginning our ascent onto Bald Mountain. The start of this hike is pretty slow going due to the climb and overgrowth of the trail. You can definitely tell right off the bat that the Tearbritches Trail is not traveled frequently. As we climbed we noticed balsam trees that seem out of place here and it is somewhat of a mystery to who actually planted them. There was a wildfire that spread here from a lightning strike on Rough Ridge in the fall of 2016. There are burnt trees and charred earth everywhere as you hike through this portion of the Cohutta Wilderness. The trail is thick with brambles and our legs definitely took a beating as we climbed.

We reached four thousand feet at the top of Bald Mountain and began our descent, now heading pretty much due north. The brush lightened as we headed down the north face of the mountain. Once we were out of the dense thorns, we started to notice all the wildflowers surrounding us. Already we were falling in love with the beauty of the Cohutta Wilderness. Following the ridgeline down a steep grade, we started to see the forest change as we lost elevation. The ground became softer due to pine needles that fell from the white pines that tower overhead.

 

Cohutta Wilderness
These purple flowers were throughout the trail.
Cohutta Wilderness
Wildfire or lightning?
This flower was awesome!

Into the valley

As we continued our descent down the ridgeline there were great views of Cowpen Mountain to our right. Tearbritches Trail advanced into the valley, leveling off at points just long enough for a brief reprieve, then back to a steep grade as it dipped to below three-thousand feet. As we got to about twenty-five hundred, I could start to hear Tearbritches Creek to my left. Then at around twenty-three hundred, we started to hear the Conasauga River off to the right.

At around two thousand feet we met up with Tearbritches Creek and started to follow it downstream through a tunnel of laurel and rhododendron. We noticed the first campsite of the trek nestled off to the right.

Tearbritches signage

We crossed Tearbritches Creek and came to Bray Field, where there are campsites strewn about and the Conasauga River is dead ahead. This was the end of our stint on the Tearbritches Trail and is the intersection of the Conasauga River Trail and the Hickory Creek Trail. It got a little confusing here, but we soon figured out that we had to cross Tearbritches Creek again and head up a hill to find the Conasauga River Trail.

Cohutta Wilderness
Crossing Tearbritches Creek

 

Conasauga River Trail

Cohutta Wilderness
Fording the Conasauga River

At this point, we basically made a U-Turn and started to head up river. To our right, we could see the ridgeline what we were just descending a few minutes earlier. Not long after we started on the trail the river fords began. The cool water of the Conasauga River felt amazing on our thorn scraped legs. On the third ford, I saw the one and only green blaze on the entire trail. Some of the connections aren’t really apparent while crossing, but staying up stream was the key to finding them.

After quite a few fords, we came to where Panther Creek empties into the Conasauga River. The Panther Creek Trail intersects here and heads left. To stay on the Conasauga River Trail, we headed right. I stopped counting the fords eventually and I think I lost track at around eight or nine, I’m not really sure. Our feet were wet, it felt great and the sometimes knee deep water was super refreshing and fun to play around in.

Cohutta Wilderness
Marcie fording the Conasauga River

As we continued up river through the Cohutta Wilderness, we were still aware of the fires that have happened there. Either the trail has several subtle reroutes, or people just have taken different routes through out the years. However, the Conasauga River Trail is fairly easy to keep track of and there was even a cairn in the river at one point where it wasn’t completely apparent where the connection was.

Cohutta Wilderness
Cairn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waterfall City

Cohutta Wilderness
Conasauga River

After about two miles on the Conasauga River Trail, we started to notice the abundance of waterfalls, so we aptly named this part of the trail Waterfall City. From this point onward, if you are a waterfall junkie, this is your section. This area of the Cohutta Wilderness is stunning. The sights just keep coming at you and there is not enough time on a day hike to take them all in. The waterfalls, rock outcrops and wildflowers just don’t stop along this trail.

Beautiful little falls in the Cohutta Wilderness
Cohutta Wilderness
One of the many rock outcrops on the Conasauga River Trail
Cohutta Wilderness
Beautiful flower in the Cohutta Wilderness
Cohutta Wilderness
No smurfs here

There are plenty of established campsites as you make your way up the Conasauga River. This would make an awesome overnight backpacking trip and we definitely plan on taking advantage of some of these campsites in the future.

Even with the multitude of fords, I consider this section of the Conasauga River Trail fairly easy. Despite it being the latter part of July, it was pretty cool in the valley and wading through the Conasauga River every few minutes didn’t hurt either. The trail is definitely used more than the Tearbritches Trail. However, we were delighted to see that aside from trail use, human impact in the way of litter was at a minimum.

As our trek continued through Waterfall City, our water supply started to dwindle, so it was time to stop and filter some. We sat on some rocks and gathered water from the Conasauga River. I love drinking water from the places that I am hiking. It makes me feel more connected to the nature that surrounds me. After procuring fresh water we continued into the Cohutta Wilderness and were nearing the end of our trek on the Conasauga River Trail.

On to the Chestnut Lead Trail

We reached the end of our ride on the Conasauga River Trail and made our final ford. Marcie kicked around in the water for a few minutes and then we said goodbye to the river. From here we picked up the Chestnut Lead Trail and followed Chestnut Creek southwest. We came across a couple camping on the bank of Chestnut Creek, and I have to say that I was a bit envious. Our journey was coming to an end, with only a little less than two miles to go.

cohutta wilderness
Marcie’s last Conasauga River ford
Cohutta Wilderness
Waterfall City, Cohutta Wilderness
cohutta wilderness
Where we got off the Conasauga River Trail and hitched a ride on the Chestnut Lead Trail

We may have had to say goodbye to the Conasauga River, but as we followed Chestnut Creek, we realized that we were still in Waterfall City. Unfortunately, the brush was too dense to get any good photos, so you’ll just have to go discover them for yourself.

As we walked the trail the wildfire damage was still apparent and we came across a tulip tree that had a hole burnt straight through the base of its trunk. The tree was a little over thirty feet tall and still very much alive at the top. It was definitely a sight to see and a testament to the perseverance of nature.  As we continued on the Chestnut Lead Trail there were a few more creek crossings and we knew that eventually, we would have to part with Chestnut Creek.

cohutta wilderness
Believe it or not. This tree is still alive.

The conclusion

The Chestnut Lead Trail parts from Chestnut Creek about halfway and veered left to begin the climb to Chestnut Lead. We gained about five hundred feet in elevation in under a quarter of a mile. We reached the lead (lead is a synonym for ridge), veered to the right, and the climb continued. It would somewhat level out for a few hundred feet or so and then pick back up again.

At this point, the day was starting to wear on us and I remember saying to Marcie, that nothing in this world is free. We had to work hard to start this journey and we were having to work hard to end it. The end of this hike was really a tease. As soon as you think you’re done with the climb it starts again. We finally made back to the Chestnut Lead Trailhead parking area pretty wiped out from the eleven and a half mile journey.

cohutta wilderness
Chestnut Lead Trailhead parking

Summary

There really is no official name for this loop trail. I named it the Cohutta Wilderness Loop because that name just makes sense to me. We clocked this loop at around 11.5 miles and it took us just over five hours to complete. If we had not stopped to play in the river, take pictures and to smell the flowers, it would have taken less. In actuality, it only took us four hours of active hiking.

This hike was highly satisfying and we would recommend it to any seasoned hiker for a day hike. That being said, this loop is rated difficult and we would not recommend it for the novice hiker. From beginning to end this trip is strenuous and challenging. However, if you are a novice and want to do a beautiful yet challenging overnighter, this is definitely the trip for you. This would also make a great week long trip because of all the other connector trails along the route.

The Cohutta Wilderness is a breathtaking experience and is truly an outdoors person’s playground. So get out there, have some fun, be safe and for the love of Jebus Leave No Trace!

Cherokee National Forest: Lost Creek Campground

Lost Creek Campground
Kiosk at Lost Creek Campground

The Big Frog Wilderness Plan

 

I did a little research on camping in the Big Frog Wilderness and found a couple of campgrounds with very poor reviews. One of the campgrounds I found is called Sylco. I decided that despite the negative reviews that we should check it out anyway. So we headed out on a Sunday morning from Kennesaw to make our way into Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest.

We often use the avoid highways feature on Google Maps because, well, we hate the highway. We took US-41 N about twenty-one miles to Collins Dr and stayed on that about a half mile. Then North Tennessee St for fifty-six miles. That led us to Old Highway 2 (which is a gravel road) and drove eight and a half miles to Peavine Sheed Creek Rd, which led us to the now defunct Sylco Campground.

The drive out there is fantastic and I highly recommend doing it with the windows down to smell the fresh mountain air of the Cherokee National Forest’s Big Frog Wilderness. I can tell you that I would love to live on Old Highway 2. It is its own little community way back in the middle of nowhere. You cross the Conasauga River on an old steel bridge to access Peavine Sheed Creek Rd and head right.

The Sylco Folly

Once we arrived at Sylco Campground we instantly realized that it wasn’t for us. There was nothing compelling nor attractive about this campground at all. The small loop through the campground was blocked off at the road with boulders. The place looked like people had used it to four wheel through. There was one tent set up at the only site that looked even remotely habitable. We suspect that whoever had camp setup was more of a resident than a recreational camper. I read that people live out there and just move around every fourteen days. It was definitely disappointing, but not surprising that the state of the old campground was less than desirable  We knew going into it that the Forest Service no longer maintained it. All of the negative reviews I had read about Sylco were not exaggerated.

The whole reason we wanted to camp here was to hike the Sylco/Caney Creek Trails, which appears to form a loop. I wasn’t able to find any information online about anyone hiking these trails as a loop, so I figured we should do some field research. We decided to abandon the Sylco Campground idea altogether and head toward the trailhead to see if we could find a dispersed campsite.

Unfortunately, Forest Service maps aren’t always super accurate when it comes to old roads and gates. We followed what we thought was Sylco Creek Rd straight ahead to the north. But as I said, the map wasn’t accurate and we ended up on East Sylco Ridge Rd. Once we realized that we were way off course, we decided just to press on to find a different spot. After all, this was a recon trip. I know the trail is there and I’ll go back prepared for a backcountry trip.

Pressing Forward

We continued driving north on East Sylco Ridge Rd until it came to an end at Indian Creek Road. Then we turned right to see if we could find somewhere to camp at Sylco Inlet on Lake Ocoee. We ended up at First Baptist Cherokee Organization Camp which is posted no trespassing. We turned around and headed the opposite direction on Indian Creek Rd.

Now we were zig-zagging across Sylco Ridge admiring the beauty of the Big Frog Wilderness. We were hoping to find a spot to camp near Lake Ocoee, but there wasn’t a lot to choose from. We did see a few spots along the way, but unfortunately, they were being used. There were also a few that were just littered with garbage. All we could do was just shake our heads in disgust and keep on trucking.

Fortunately for us, I had a contingency plan in case Sylco was a no go. I had done some research and found a spot online called Lost Creek Campground. From the little that I read, it sounded like it would be a more than suitable backup plan.

The Lost Creek Campground Plan

We found our way to Bakers Creek Rd, which led us to Cookson Creek Rd. Then we got onto US-64E, stopped for a snack and began the journey to Lost Creek Campground. We took 64 for seven miles, then to TN-30W for another seven miles until we came to Lost Creek Rd. We headed down Lost Creek Rd for six and a half miles until we reached the campground.

Lost Creek Campground
After a slow 6.4 miles on a gravel road, we came to this sign.

Lost Creek Campground

Lost Creek Campground has fifteen campsites with about half of the sites directly on Big Lost Creek. There are two on the right as you pull in and drive around the loop. There are several sites that form what I assume is meant to be a group area in the middle of the campground. The middle campsites would be good for a Boy Scout Troop or for a large gathering, but not great for scenery. The campground has two vault toilets (beware: they stink pretty badly) and bear-proof trash receptacles, but no other amenities. Each campsite has a fire ring with grill, a lantern post, gravel tent pad and a picnic table. There is no fee to stay at Lost Creek Campground and it is open year round.

Big Lost Creek
Our little beach at Lost Creek Campground
Big Lost Creek
The water is crystal clear at Lost Creek Campground
Big Lost Creek
View from our site at Lost Creek Campground
Lost Creek Campground
Lost Creek Campground creekside campsite

When we pulled into the campground there was only one other camper. You never really know what you’re going to drive into with National Forest Campgrounds, being that they are usually on a first come, first camp basis. We were very happy about this. Marcie and I were really impressed with this place right of the bat. The campground is small and way out in the middle of nowhere on a gravel road. We chose a spot right on the creek and started scoping out trees to hang our hammocks and set up our tarp right away.  We found a few trees that worked great and the spot was off the pad and a little closer to the creek.

Gotta have a shelter.
Ahh, completion

 

Settling into Lost Creek Campground

Once we got our hammocks and shelter set up, we decided to get some coals going and Marcie put sausages on the grill for a late lunch. Shortly after we arrived a guy on a motorcycle took the spot next to ours. By this time it was around five pm, so after we ate, we decided to go look for a little firewood for a bedtime fire. We walked up the road a way and gathered a little wood here and there. The country in this area is definitely beautiful. There were a couple of small waterfalls along the road. When we got back to Lost Creek Campground, we just relaxed a bit.

I walked around and got some pictures and read the kiosk as I always do and discovered that we were right on the Benton Mackaye Trail. I saw the trail on my map and had already planned on making a day hike of it. On my map, it was called Big Lost Creek Trail, so when I discovered that it was a section of the Benton MacKaye, I became even more excited about the hike. I had never hiked any of the BMT, but have read a lot about the three hundred mile trail named after the man whose vision inspired the AT.

After some much-needed relaxation, we decided to make some cheeseburgers and beans. Cheeseburgers have become somewhat of a camp meal tradition for Marcie and me. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good cheeseburger cooked over an open flame? After dinner, we relaxed a bit, cleaned our mess, stored the food in the car and then moved to our hammocks. It didn’t take long for sleep to take hold with the sound of Big Lost Creek flowing in the background.

Hiking Day

The next morning I awoke to the birds chirping and the creek flowing. What a grand way to rise from a slumber. I put on the coffee and started planning the day. I took the dogs for a walk and took some pictures of the creek from the bridge. We also found the southbound trailhead for the BMT along the roadside. Hagrid saw the trail first and immediately started running up the trail. He was ready for a hike! It was still early though and we hadn’t had breakfast yet, so I had to explain to him it wasn’t time yet. The explanation literally fell on deaf ears, he was ready to go!

Facing north outside of Lost Creek Campground
Just before the bridge to Lost Creek Campground
Bridge view
Opposite side of the bridge toward Lost Creek Campground.
Pretty flowers at Lost Creek Campground

I got back to the campsite and had some more coffee. Our neighbor was up and it turns out that he was traveling from Smyrna, which isn’t far from where Marcie and I live in Kennesaw. He told me that he had taken a couple of weeks off of work to take this trip. His plan for the day was to ride through Cohutta and make his way to Alabama.

He told me that he was going to try to make his way out to Colorado, but was unsure if he could make it. I told him about Turnipseed Campground in Alabama and he said that he would try to check it out. He also explained that his wife had told him to take the trip and she stayed home. This made me grateful that Marcie and I mutually enjoy going on our adventures together. I wished him safe travels and off he went on his journey.

Time for breakfast at Lost Creek Campground

After a little while, Marcie started to stir and joined the dogs and me for some coffee. I started our breakfast to fuel us up for the day’s hike. Nothing like a big campfire breakfast to start your day off right. I began with some thick cut bacon and moved on to chorizo, followed by some eggs and spuds. Can you say pork-o-rama? We sure can, and do, frequently.

BACON!!
Bacon fat fried chorizo.
The final product.

We ate our breakfast, fed the dogs their special breakfast and decided to pack up a majority of camp, but leave our shelter and hammocks up, so the campsite would still look occupied.

The Hike

We headed out of the site and walked across Lost Creek Campground to meet the trail and head north along Big Lost Creek. To start the trail we had to ford the creek and then the trail continues to follow the creek downstream to the right the entire length. This is an easy but beautiful hike, with great views of small waterfalls and some killer rock outcrops throughout the whole hike. Our hike on this trail was about seven and a half miles out and back. At 1.22 mi. the trail veers left and there is a campsite to the right, directly on the creek.

Fording the creek
Big Lost Creek
Creekside campsite

You continue on the trail roughly heading west and come to a cool little waterfall at about 1.5mi. There are awesome rock formations on both sides and it looks like you could have a great time doing some creek bouldering. All along the trail, there are beautiful little waterfalls begging for you to stop and admire them. The trail is an old Forest Service road mostly reclaimed by wilderness and maintained pretty well, but there are several blown down trees along the way, which you have to either step over or go under. There were also no blazes on most of the trail, however, it is very easy to follow.

Nice little waterfall.
A little further back.
Had to go down into the creek.
It was fun climbing over these rocks.
The holes are cool.
Some scale for the outcrop.
Don’t really have words for how pretty it is back here.
Looked like a nice place to cool off on a hot day.

Just about halfway

This place is so beautiful, we didn’t have time to stop at every wonder and snap pictures. Literally, around every turn, there is something interesting or beautiful to gaze upon. Our pictures (as good as some of them might be) do this place no justice at all. You really need to come up Big Lost Creek and check out the scenery for yourself. But beware, we found that there are a lot of ticks in the area.

Such a beautiful place.
We can’t wait to go back and do some more exploring.

At around two miles you come to what looks like an earth hallway. There is literally an earth wall on both sides and the creek just disappears for about seventy-five feet.

Hallway

There is a feeder creek crossing at about 2.33mi. and another at around 3.12. Near 3.42 you come across an old Forest Service gate that is defunct and a trail sign that is broken, with half of it propped up against the post on the ground. Continue to follow the trail and within eyesight on your left you come to a gravel road and you continue going right. If you follow the road you’ll make another creek crossing and come to a field with tall grass. To the right, there is a driveway with what looks like a vacation home on the right. Ahead of you, there are train tracks that you take left to continue on the BMT. This is where we turned around and headed back.

 

2.33 mi. feeder creek crossing.
Straight up
Broken trail sign.
Marcie and the boys making the last crossing.
Doing real dog stuff
This was really cool.
What you see when you turn around at the last crossing. Just wish the picture would have been better.
End of the line.

Conclusion

This was definitely a successful exploration mission into an area we had never visited. We started out with a Plan A and ended up having to use Plan B. I highly recommend that if you are headed to a spot that you have never been to, always have a contingency plan. Most campgrounds in the National Forests don’t take reservations. Remember that weekends are usually the busy times at these places, so if you can, take some time off during the week. We find that you have a much better chance of getting a spot.

Yeah, we could have stayed at Sylco, but I think that our decision to press forward was definitely the right one. Do research online, call the local Ranger Station and then get out there and explore. If you are anything like us, you’ll be more than satisfied with your results. Do I regret going to the defunct Sylco Campground? No, I do not. Now we know that it isn’t the most desirable of places. Will I now avoid campgrounds that have bad reviews? No, I will not. We saw some beautiful sights when we drove through the Sylco area. That loop trail is still out there and I’m sure it will make an awesome overnight backpacking trip.

So get out there, have fun and be safe.

Dockery Lake Campground

Dockery Lake campground

So on this trip, we decided to take it easy a bit and do a little car camping at Dockery Lake campground, one of our favorite little spots in the Chattahoochee National Forest.  I found this lovely little destination on my National Geographic Trails Illustrated map last year. We fell in love with this campground immediately.

Dockery Lake has a day use area and a campground with eleven semi-primitive campsites and a beautiful three-acre lake stocked with rainbow trout.  I say the campground is semi-primitive because there are flush toilets and running water.  Each campsite has a fire ring, picnic table, lantern post and one or two gravel tent pads. Six of the campsites are directly lakeside and five are on the wooded side. There is a loop trail around the lake that is about a half a mile and the Dockery Lake Trail that connects to the Appalachian Trail at Miller Gap. The Dockery Lake Trail is seven miles out and back and is a semi-popular route to Preaching Rock at Big Cedar Mountain just off the Appalachian Trail.

Lakeside campsite

 

Day use site

Marcie and I have camped here four or five times in the last year. We have enjoyed every trip and we will continue to visit this spot for years to come. When we need to get out of town for a night or two, with little to no planning, this is our go to. I guess you could say that this is our comfort spot.

Feeder stream.

Now I know that there are the hardcore backcountry campers out there that wouldn’t be caught dead car camping. To them, I say, more power to you. Marcie and I, well, we like it all. For us, car camping is sometimes more enjoyable than completely roughing it. You can have better food, cold drinks, satellite radio and other luxuries you just can’t have in the backcountry. Don’t get me wrong. I love backcountry camping, but it generally requires more planning and is a lot more physically demanding. And let us face it. After a long work week and knowing that you have another right around the corner, a little car camping is just what the medicine man orders for a little soul cleansing. Car camping is also a great way to test out new gear and make a judgment on whether it will be beneficial to use in the backcountry.

The plan was to arrive at Dockery Lake Campground early afternoon, set up, eat lunch and relax for the remainder of the day. Mission accomplished.

After we arrived we unloaded the car, we chose a spot for our hammocks and set up our tarp shelter. We recently purchased the Kelty Noah’s Tarp 12 and had not been given the opportunity to test it out yet. This tarp is great! I set it up using the diamond configuration with a ridgeline and could not be happier with it.

Kelty Noah’s Tarp 12.

After we got set up and had lunch, Marcie decided to lounge in the hammock, do some reading and catch a nap. I decided that I wanted to do some fishing and take some pictures of the recreation area. So I broke out my fishing pole, the night crawlers and some rooster tails I bought the night before. I hooked a worm and let it sit for a while. It was just nice to relax. There were people at the campground, but it wasn’t crowded and they were all there for the same benefits we were.

Hammock Time
Marcie lounging with her book.
Dockery Lake Campground is such a peaceful place.

After I fished for a bit I decided to put my kayak in the lake and paddle to the other side and go get some pictures to share for this post. This lake is only three acres, so it wasn’t a long paddle to the other side, but it’s the novelty that counts sometimes. This beautiful little lake has so much character. What it lacks in size, it gains in beauty. There are tadpoles the size of golf balls, salamanders, rainbow trout and bluegill swimming about. It is truly a wonderous hidden gem.

Dockery Lake
View from our campsite
Signage.
Little bridge.
Feeder stream.

I walked the loop trail around the lake and ran into some folks fishing on the dam and as I was walking up, a guy was pulling in a small trout. So I showed my enthusiasm and he proceeded to tell me about the eighteen-inch three-pound trout that he caught the day before in the exact spot. I asked him what they were using as bait and he told me that they were using Power Bait. I guess that stuff really works because my worms only yielded one fish for me. It wasn’t from lack of effort either. I tried from the bank in multiple spots and floating around in my kayak to no avail.  One would think this little lake would be overfished, but I saw plenty while I was there. I guess they are just persnickety as trout often are.  Next time I’m taking Power Bait.

My fishing log, where I caught my trout.
Fishing from my kayak. Oh so peaceful.
Barely legal. I would have thrown him back, but he swallowed the hook and went belly up.

After I floated around Dockery Lake for a while, I wrapped up my fishing and decided to make some burgers around nine. I dumped some charcoal in the fire ring and let it do its thing. Now don’t judge- I’ve paid my dues collecting firewood to cook over the years. To put it bluntly, it can suck to hunt for fuel just to cook with. After all, we were car camping and there to relax and to take it easy. Earlier in my camping career I probably would have judged me, but now I understand the difference between working hard and working smart. I can also make a fire with a bow, but I choose not to because Bic makes damn fine lighters and Kingsford makes damn fine charcoal.

We cooked up the burgers, some beans and the trout that I caught earlier. I felt bad about him being so small, but I figured the least that I could do was respect his sacrifice enough to make him part of the meal.

We ended the night by cleaning up and putting our food in the car to not attract bears. Yes, there are bears active in the area. We laid down in our hammocks and, Marcie read some more, while I listened to the croaking of the bullfrogs. They make all sorts of strange noises if you really listen to them. They make a noise that is similar to bongos and it sounds like a really out of sync drum circle at some points. The sounds of creatures in the forest are amazing at night. I turned off the lantern and listened until I drifted to sleep.

I woke up at around six and fired up the backpacking stove for some coffee. The sun was just peeking through the trees and there was a slight chill in the air. It was a brand new day and a beautiful one to boot. Marcie slept as I drank coffee, did some fishing and practiced my morning meditation. I even got in my kayak and floated around the lake for a bit before I came back and started breakfast. I won’t go over the charcoal thing again.

Bacon on the coals.
Bacon fat fried garlic for the eggs.
Cheesy garlic eggs cooked in bacon grease.

We originally planned on hiking from the campground to Preaching Rock via the Dockery Lake Trail after we digested our breakfast, but plans soon changed. The hike is ten miles out and back and our dog, Hagrid is fourteen years old. Hagrid is usually up for a good hike, but this trip he just wasn’t feeling it. So what we decided to do was to hike up to the Dockery Lake Trail to Pigeons Roost Creek (which becomes Waters Creek) and check out some scenery. After we would return to camp and breakdown. We still wanted to see Preaching Rock and there is another way via Woody Gap Trailhead that is only three miles out and back, so we made that our contingency plan.

Once our meal had settled and we were no longer suffering food coma. We started our way on the loop to the Dockery Lake Trail and began our short journey to Pigeon Roost/Waters Creek. There are two ways to access the trail, one is at the day use parking area and the other is at the dam. We chose the dam to avoid backtracking.

The trail has blue blazes and is a single track path. The hike is downhill pretty much all the way to the creek. Just as you start there is a waterfall to the right, which is the spillway from the lake. The views are gorgeous through the treeline to the right. With some pretty cool rock outcrops on the left. I imagine that hiking this trail in the late fall would yield some amazing views.

You cross a few streams along the way and the trail is kind of muddy in some spots. The streams are narrow and easy to skip over. Even our little dog, Porter (who usually has to be carried across) made it over with no problem. We were very proud parents this day. If you knew, Porter, you would understand. We crossed into the Blood Mountain Wilderness and hiked a little further to reach our destination. Waters Creek is a popular trout fishing area and I can’t wait to go back and catch some supper, but that will be a story for the future. We turned around and headed back up the mountain back to our little lake taking some pictures along the way.

Kiosk at the dam trailhead.
Trailhead blaze.
Spillway waterfall.
It is much prettier in person.
View through the treeline.
Another treeline view.
I love rock outcrops.

 

Just fascinating to me.
Porter crossing on his own.
Waters Creek.

On the way back we started to hear thunder. After we heard it a few more times, we decided that it wouldn’t be too wise to head to the top of a mountain. So sadly we made the decision to postpone our trip to Preaching Rock for another time. Being Mr. Contingency Plan, I came up with the idea to do some recon to a few campgrounds I have been researching for a while.

We turned on some Grateful Dead and started to break down camp. We packed up the car, threw away our trash and policed the campsite for remaining litter. A rule that I learned as a young Boy Scout is that you always leave a site cleaner than you find it. That is something that has stayed with me all through my life and I always practice it to this day. Unfortunately not enough people practice this principle, so I guess I will always be busy at the end of a trip. That is okay though, I love Dockery Lake and I will always do whatever I can to keep it pristine for future generations to enjoy.

We got everything packed up just in time because it began to pour down rain as soon as we were pretty much all packed up. We pulled out of the campground and headed north toward Cooper Creek Wildlife Management Area to check out potential campgrounds. The rain cleared up fairly quickly and the sky was blue once again.

Stay tuned to read about our upcoming adventures in the Cooper Creek Wildlife Management Area. Get out there and enjoy some nature. Do what you enjoy, whether it be backcountry, kayak camping, thru-hiking and, yes, even car camping. Remember to always use Leave No Trace principles and respect the earth and all its creatures.

Our first trip into the Cheaha Wilderness

Turnipseed Campground
Kiosk at Turnipseed Campground

Like most people, Marcie and I don’t have a lot of leisure time, due to our hectic work schedules. So when we decide to enjoy our time off, we try to make the best of what we enjoy the most, being outdoors. That being said, when we take a trip we usually leave on Saturday evening and get to our destination late in the evening, or even after dark sometimes; because we want to wake up in our campsite the next morning and enjoy the day to fullest. This trip we went to Turnipseed Campground, Talladega National Forest

 On this particular trip, it was Easter weekend and we were able to get to Turnipseed Campground, Cheaha Wilderness around 5:30 on Saturday evening, which was definitely a great score for us. We have set up camp plenty of times after dark and that can just be a hassle; to say the very least. We can assuredly attest that looking for firewood in the dark after a long work day isn’t what we would call an exhilarating experience. In fact, I think it is probably the true definition of a chore. Okay, enough complaining, now to the good stuff.
  Being that it was the Saturday before Easter, the campground was moderately populated, but not crowded; much to our relief. We have recently started experimenting with hammock camping, so the first thing I usually do; after unloading the car, is start rigging our shelter. Which consists of an A-frame constructed with two 6′ x 8′ tarps attached to a ridge line, with prusik knots and toggles usually made from sticks we find on the ground.
Two tarp shelter.

  We set up a pretty basic camp this day because our plans were to get up early the next morning and head into the Cheaha Wilderness for our real adventure of this trip. We gathered just enough firewood to cook some hot dogs and beans for dinner. After this we went to bed pretty early, so we could wake fresh in the morning, and start our hike into the wilderness.
  I usually wake up before the sun comes up when I’m camping and make coffee my first priority, and I’m usually working on a second pot by the time Marcie wakes up. She gets up early every day for work, so I try to let her sleep as long as possible when we are camping. After Marcie woke up, I went and filtered some water, then made us some breakfast to fuel us up for our hike. We broke camp, packed the car and parked in the day use area of the campground.
  Turnipseed Campground is a trailhead for the last two mile stretch of the Chinnabee Silent Trail. Which connects to the Pinhoti and Odum trails in two miles at Little Caney Head Mountain.
  Heading southeast there is a kiosk on the left and the trail continues into the wilderness.  To enter the wilderness you cross a crystal clear little creek, which is also a reliable water source year round.
Cheaha Wilderness, Talladega National Forest
  So we crossed the creek and off into the wilderness. We knew before we even started that this was going to be a challenging hike with our heavy packs, from planning with our topo. The Chinnabee Silent Trail is six miles and the last two are definitely the most challenging. This portion of the trail is rocky and pretty much uphill the entire way, but it is really beautiful and we love a challenge. If you are just going to do it as a day hike, it’s not that difficult; however, with a fully loaded overnight pack, it wasn’t easy. Just about the time that I was thinking to myself that “this isn’t that bad” is when it got pretty challenging. At about a mile we did lose the trail for about ten minutes, because of side trails that lead nowhere. There are no blazes on the Chinnabee in the wilderness. The last 3/4 of a mile are pretty strenuous. Once you hit 2000′ it starts to level out a bit. Just as you get to the top there is a little spring/creek on your right. We reached Little Caney Head Mountain and the end of the Chinnabee Silent Trail where the Pinhoti and Odum trails intersect. The elevation here is about 2100′. There are also several campsites here, but they are right on the trail, so this isn’t a spot to choose if privacy and seclusion are what you are looking for. I imagine that for a tired thru-hiker, though, that these spots would be just fine. Especially since there is a water source so close by. I believe this is also the previous home of the Cheaha Falls Shelter before it was relocated after this area was dedicated a wilderness. Odum point is just south and the trail of its namesake heads south as well.
  After resting, having a snack and taking some pictures we headed north on the Pinhoti toward Cheaha State Park. Our Pinhoti trail map said that the trail isn’t blazed in the wilderness, but we found that to be inaccurate. The trusty blue blazes are plentiful through the wilderness. Our plan was to hike until we came across the Lower Cave Creek connector trail. The views to the west and rock outcrops to the east were equally amazing. I read that this one the best stretches of the Pinhoti when it comes to scenery and we were not disappointed, that’s for sure. The trail is rocky and has a lot of roots as well, which makes it a little tricky to navigate with a full load. One good thing is that it maintains a pretty level elevation at this point.
Marcie, Hagrid, Porter and a blue blaze.

I love rock formations like this one.

The landscape through here is absolutely stunning. This looks like it is part of the trail, but it’s not. It is just a random cut that I noticed when we were taking in our surroundings.

This was a killer view of the foothills.

I thought these cloud formations were sweet.

This was really cool. Although the picture doesn’t do it much justice.
I thought it was interesting how the trees were bent over here.
There are rock walls like this all along this portion of the trail.
   We made it to the Lower Cave Creek connector. The Pinhoti trail map shows the connector heading east for about a 1/8 of a mile; however, it actually heads straight up at the beginning and more south than east. We reached the Cave Creek Trail and headed north. You can also head south on the Nubbin Creek Trail, but that’s another adventure. The Cave Creek Trail runs parallel to the Pinhoti and joins it at Hernandez Peak. As we continued along the trail we could start to hear Cave Creek in the distance to the east. We came to the creek at about 3/4 of a mile, where you have to cross. Here we came across a couple with a dog and their newborn baby. Our dog Porter actually broke one his toenails crossing the creek, because he his a complete spaz, when it comes to crossing water. Come to think of it, he is pretty much a spaz when it comes to anything.

Creek crossing.

Where I got our water.

Not the best picture I’ve taken.
    After crossing the creek and filling up our bladder with water, we headed east a short distance uphill toward where I had chosen on the map to scout for camp sites. We got to the top of a ridgeline and the Cave Creek Trail continued north and to the south, there was a campsite, but it was pretty much right on the trail. So I walked a little further on the side trail through the site and found the perfect spot about fifty yards in. This site was everything that you could ask for. It had a huge fire ring, a great view, plenty of firewood close by and a nice tall tree to hang our food in.
   We took our load off and rested our feet a bit. What a relief! It was only a little over four miles, but I had not carried that much weight, that distance, in a long time, and it was a first for Marcie. After our well-deserved break, we got down to business and started setting up camp. I set up our A-frame tarp shelter, and, Marcie hung our hammocks. Then it was off to find firewood.
Our A-frame tarp shelter.
While we were gathering firewood, this guy got into our food bag and ate our bacon.
  Once we had gathered ample firewood, we had some lunch and relaxed for while before doing a few more chores to ensure our comfort for the night. On this trip, we used backpacking stoves to cook dinner and breakfast and used the fire for light and warmth. This was an amazing Easter weekend! The solitude was just what the doctor ordered to recharge us from the draining daily life of residing within Atlanta’s metro. We only saw a handful of day hikers for two days. It was the two of us, our dogs and the sounds of the southernmost chain of the Appalachian mountain range for this particular adventure, and that was all we needed. The next morning we had breakfast relaxed for a bit hiked out.

Our forest

for that moment.

Marcie resting her feet.

Nice little fire.

Scavenger dogs.
Pinhoti blue blaze

Hiking out.

Marcie enjoying the view on the way out.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about this adventure and that it has inspired you to explore the Cheaha Wilderness Area for yourself. Remember to always use leave no trace principles and treat the Earth with the respect she deserves.
 If you have any questions on locations leave a comment below.
Where is your favorite place to hike?
Comment below.
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Thanks for reading.