Sat, Oct 14 2017 - Toccoa River Swing Bridge via BMT to Three Forks, AT (View Original Event Details)|
We shared a fun day on the white diamond-blazed Benton MacKaye Trail. Starting from the parking lot at the end of a 3-mile bumpy gravel forest service road, we hiked down to the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge. Built in 1977 by the U.S.D.A. Forest Service in cooperation with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, it's the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River. Bouncing across the bridge was just the beginning of our adventure. From the river we climbed steadily for about 2 miles. The humidity was near 100% and we were soon drenched with sweat. The birds were singing their hearts out, and a fat brown toad hopped across the path. At Sapling Gap we decided to forgo the new re-routed BMT in favor of the old trail that goes straight up and over Little John Dick Mountain. A little bushwhacking and a lot of teamwork ensued, until we made our way back to the re-routed trail.
Then we hit Bryson Gap and another steep climb to the summit of John Dick Mountain and Wildcat Ridge. We enjoyed rolling terrain and an enchanted rhododendron forest before dropping down sharply into No Name Gap. We all know what a Gap means, right? Time to ascend again, this time sharply up to the grassy meadow on top of Bald Mountain. Then it was (mostly) downhill as the BMT joined the AT - and crowds of hikers materialized. Until this point we hadn't seen another soul since the bridge. We made our way along the babbling banks of Long Creek down to Three Forks where we turned around, then took a side trail to Long Creek Falls for lunch.
After fortifying ourselves, we retraced our steps (except for the bushwhacking part) all the way back to the swinging bridge. It's the height of acorn season, and we resisted the acorns' attempts to make roller skates out of our hiking boots. Especially on the downhills. Our feet were starting to notice the 18 miles and 4,300 feet of elevation gain, so we cooled them in the river before climbing back up to the cars. All in all, it was a most excellent adventure with wonderful companions.