Sat, Mar 5 2022 - Cohutta Wilderness Loop Hike - East Cowpen, Hickory Ridge, Beech Bottom & Rough Ridge (View Original Event Details)|
BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) - Blowdown and overgrowth (read: thorns) on the Hickory Ridge and first ~2.5 miles of the Rough Ridge trail from Jacks River made this a challenging late winter hike. These portions of the trails are in need of maintenance and as the weather warms may not be passable as the overgrowth intensifies.
The hike in on East Cowpen was good - not too much blowdown nor overgrowth at this time of year. Continuing onto Hickory Ridge, we ran into A LOT of blowdown and some early-season overgrowth. This slowed our pace considerably.
Beechbottom was in good shape and our river crossings were uneventful, given low river conditions as a result of several previous days of no rain.
We lunched at a small campsite near the confluence of Rough Creek and Jacks River.
A crossing at Rough Creek involved slogging through some mud and creek pools and more blowdown. The trail on the other side of the creek was overgrown and difficult to discern. A GPS route (i.e. GAIA) and Mark Bowden(👍) were helpful here to insure proper navigation.
Once across the creek the extensive blowdown continued on the climb out. At ~.8 miles from our lunch spot, the team decided to bushwack and circumvent a section of the trail deemed impassable. We picked up the route and continued on.
At this point, and for the next ~2.0 miles all the way to Crooked Dogwood Gap the Rough Creek Trail was extremely difficult to traverse due to continued extensive blowdown and considerable overgrowth (surprising for early March.)
After Crooked Dogwood Gap the trail opened up and navigation was less complicated.
Total distance as reported by two team members was 16.5 miles.