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Cohutta Wilderness Backpacking - Mountain Loop (Rescheduled 2.0)

The Basics:
Event Type:Backpacking
Event Location: Cohutta Wilderness   Backpacking: Cohutta Wilderness Backpacking - Mountain Loop (Rescheduled 2.0)  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Jun 16 2018  7:00 am >> Sun, Jun 17 2018 5:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 7:00 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Fri, Apr 13 2018 12:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Jun 15 2018 12:00 pm
Event Duration:1 Days 10 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult
Distance:18 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Mike Pawloski
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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:4
Number Registered So Far: 9 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: Yes


(Rescheduled from May 19-20 due to weather)

The Cohutta Wilderness is located north of Atlanta and covers 37,000 acres (both in Georgia and Tennessee). It was once owned and intensively logged by lumber companies. In the 1920’s it was bought by the U.S. government and in 1975 was added to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Now it's the largest National Forest Wilderness in the southeast and attracts more than 60,000 visitors each year.

This trip includes 4 trails and covers ~18 miles in total (Cowpen, Hickory Ridge, Jacks River, and Rough Ridge). The Plan is to hike ~9.5 miles the first day and camp at the Penitentiary Branch Campsite.  The second day we will return to our cars using the Rough Ridge trail completing the 18 mile loop. The drive to the trailhead (Three Forks) includes some dirt roads.  It's a beautiful drive and should be accessible via a standard passenger vehicle.

Please note this event is a high end D5 and covers a demanding route. Rough Ridge on Day 2 is particularly arduous with a backpack.  If you have not completed a recent D5 hike/backpack or we have not been on an event previously, Trip Leaders will need to clear your fitness and backpacking experience.  If you sign up and are deemed by Trip Leaders to be insufficently qualified you will be removed.   

Please arrive 10 minutes early prior to carpool departure for introductions, directions, etc.. We will leave promptly at 7:00 am

Day One: ~9.5 miles (1,169 ft Ascent – 2,844 ft Descent)

Start:  Three Forks Trail Head

East Cowpen Trail: 4.3 miles

Hickory Ridge Trail: 3.3 Miles

Jacks River Trail: 1.9 miles 

We will leave the carpool at 7:00 (Busbee Park-N-Ride). The plan is to reach the trailhead parking lot (Three Forks Trailhead,) by 9:30 AM. We will start at Cowpen Trail and hike 4.3 miles north to the Hickory Ridge Trail. We will continue north for 3.3 miles to reach the Jacks River Trail.  From there, we cross the river and turn right (east and south) and continue on the trail for ~ 1.9 miles to get to the Penitentiary Branch Campsite.  After setting up camp, we will gather firewood for the evening. After gathering enough firewood, we may, pending time and group desire, takle a small hike (~1.25 miles one way) to the Jacks River Falls (swimming an option).

The evening will include dinner around the campfire along with the fraternal camaraderie and fellowship that befalls good friends being together in the woods. 

Day Two: ~8.7 miles  ( 2,459 ft Ascent – 640 ft Descent)

Jacks River Trail: 1 mile

Rough Ridge Trail: 7.2 miles

Cowpen Trail: 0.5 miles 

After breakfast and breaking camp we will hike ~1 mile on Jacks River Trail to get to the Rough Ridge Trail.  We will go south on Rough Ridge Trail for ~6.7 miles to reach Cowpen, where we'll continue south for ~0.5 mile to get back to the Three Forks Trailhead.  We can decide as a team if we want to stop for a late lunch on the way back.


1: We will have river crossings, so be prepared. 

2: Hydration will be of utmost importance.  3 L of water is recommended.  Also, we may encounter yellow jackets so if you have a bee allergy please make sure you carry an EpiPen

3: One well-behaved dog will be allowed on the trip in addition to Kody, Mike Pawloski's Lab. 

4: Pack-It-In-Pack-It-Out Rules apply.  In addition, we will do our best to carry out any trash or items we come across that have been left behind by other individuals. 

Required Items to Bring:

-Hiking Boots / Water Shoes

-Tent or shelter (for rain)

-Food and Snacks (at least 1 lunch,1 dinner, 1 breakfast and favorite snacks)

-3 L of water (TL will have a water filter)

-Appropriate Food Bag and rope to hang your food

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.


-Swim Suit

-Wood saw

-Hiking Poles

-Bug Spray


-Change of Clothes and Towel

-Gifts for Trip Leaders

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

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Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):150Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 7:00 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.

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

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