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Cowpen Mountain Loop

The Basics:
Event Type:Backpacking
Event Location: Cohutta Wilderness, near Epworth, GA   Backpacking:  Cowpen Mountain Loop  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Oct 22 2016  10:00 am >> Sun, Oct 23 2016 5:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 8:00 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Fri, Aug 12 2016 6:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Oct 21 2016 8:00 pm
Event Duration:1 Days 7 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D4: Moderate to Difficult
Distance:12 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Richard A. Zalik
Email Trip Leader(s)
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:10
Minimum Group Size:3
Number Registered So Far: 7 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: Yes


This trip will combine an ascent to Cowpen Mountain with a loop hike including a part of the East Cowpen trail, all of Panther Creek Trail and a portion of the Conasauga River Trail. We will ford the Conasauga a total of nineteen times.

The event starts at the Three Forks trailhead and ends at Betty Gap, which is about 3.5 road miles away. After leaving a car at Betty Gap to run a shuttle, we will first hike around 1.5 miles north on East Cowpen Trail. This is the old Georgia Highway 2, which became a hiking trail after Congress designated the Cohutta as wilderness. This trail climbs up to the northern ridge of Cowpen Mountain.  An easy 1/4 mile bushwhack along the ridge will take us to the summit of Cowpen.  The summit is engulfed in a thicket of briars and young trees with no appreciable views so we will not dally long there.

Returning to East Cowpen Trail, we'll continue approximately 0.9 miles North, descending down Cowpen's northern ridge with taunting views through slumbering trees, to Panther Creek Trail.  Descending steeply off a rib ridge, we meet Panther Creek a mile from its source and follow it to the top of Panther Falls.   After negotiating the falls, we willl end our day at Bray Field, after walking the entire 3.4 mile length of Panther Creek Trail, plus about a quarter of a mile from the Conasauga ford to Bray Field. We will have to ford the Conasauga before reaching Bray field.

The next day we will walk 5.4 miles on the Conasauga River Trail to Betty Gap. We will have to ford the Conasauga another eighteen times, as well as a few other smaller streams. The trail proceeds on an easy upgrade until a quarter mile before the end, where it ascends very steeply.

Total elevation gain: around 3,000 ft. 

Required Items to Bring:
    • Tent.
    • Sleeping bag.
    • Headlamp/flashlight.
    • Lunch and dinner for Saturday and breakfast and lunch for Sunday.
    • Trail snacks.
    • 1 liter of water.
    • Good hiking boots.
    • Hiking Poles/hiking stick are recommended.
    • Rain Gear/poncho.
Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.
  • trekking poles (good for parting briars as well)
  • camera 
  • Sneakers or sandals (to ford the Conasauga).
  • Towel.
  • Insect repellent
  • Bathing suit

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

Directions to trailhead will be given at carpool (or via email if "meeting at event").

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):150Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 8:00 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $60.00 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.


Access to Cowpen Mountain requires driving 10+ miles on awesome narrow, windy dirt/gravel roads. Please keep this in mind before you volunteer to drive your shiny, new, low-riding sportscar to the trailhead. 

I will bring filtering equipment to treat water.

There is no water on East Cowpen Trail.



* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.