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REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page.

Cohutta Wilderness/Hemp Top/Penitentiary Branch/Jacks River Fri - Sun

The Basics:
Event Type:Backpacking
Event Location: Jack’s River, Cohutta Wilderness Area   Backpacking: Cohutta Wilderness/Hemp Top/Penitentiary Branch/Jacks River Fri - Sun  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Fri, Aug 2 2019  1:00 pm >> Sun, Aug 4 2019 4:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 1:00 pm   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Thu, Jul 25 2019 9:30 pm
Registration Cut Off: Thu, Aug 1 2019 8:00 pm
Event Duration:2 Days 3 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D4: Moderate to Difficult
Distance:15 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Email Trip Leader(s)
You must be logged in to get the Trip Leader contact information.
Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:12
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 8 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: Yes


Option to backpack for just Saturday night, the carpool will meet at the same location at 7:30AM, Saturday.  Otherwise, this is a two night event.

This is an in/out hike.  It is mostly all downhill going to the camp and will be all uphill coming back out.  It is strenuous coming out.

We will travel to Dally Gap where we will park and then pick up the Hemp Top Trail [2.1 miles] to Penitentiary Branch Trail [3.4 miles].   We will camp at the beautiful and spacious area at the intersection of Jacks River Trail and the Penitentiary Branch Trail; we'll be next to the Jack's River.  On our way to the camp area, we'll cross the Penitentiary Creek which may require river shoes, but sometimes we can rock-hop it.

On Saturday, we can "day-hike" to Jack River Falls which is about a 4 mile round trip hike and will include a couple river crossings, so you'll want river shoes to hike in, and carry trekking poles.  The crossings are typically very slippery, and can be thigh high.  I highly recommend checking out the falls, but you're welcome to remain in camp, relax, read, do some art, etc.

We'll hike out on Sunday morning but will not be rushing to leave this beautiful area.

IF the campsite is already taken, we may need to camp at other options - one is that we can hike further down river to another camp site and it will require us to cross the river.  So, please bring water shoes for that possibility.  The other option is to retrace our footsteps about ten minutes to the Penitentiary Creek, which would not require us to cross the river; this would be my choice if we cannot stay at the river.

To keep things running smoothly:  

-There is a limit of 3 total dogs allowed to accompany the group for the trip.  First come first serve. 

-Dogs must be well behaved with both people and other animals.

-Dogs must be leashed while people are cooking and eating and must basically stay out of and away from people's food.

-If you use someone's water filter, offer to compensate them in some way.  The filters cost money as do the replacement filters that have to be purchased.

-When we are gathering wood for the fire, let's all assist.  When we gather wood as a group it goes quickly!  But we do not need a bonfire.  :-)

-If we have a fire, that fire has to be put out sufficiently at the end of the evening.  This is the responsiblity of the group and especially whoever is there at the end when everyone abandones the fire for bed.

-Do not burn any trash in the fire unless it is paper.

The forest service road is typically in good condition at this time of year and can be driven by any type of car.

Thanks to Grant B for several of these notes!

This photo was taken during a drought year; the water is running much higher.

Required Items to Bring:

Backpacking Checklist

2 breakfasts, 1-2 lunches, 2 dinners, snacks

Hike in with 2 liters of water

Water filtration system

Backpacking gear, tent, sleep gear, stove, etc.

Clothing appropriate for cool nights and warm days

Water shoes

Trekking poles 

Bear hanging rope and bag

Rain jacket just in case

Yellow Jacket/bee sting  remedy, e.g., benedryl or epi-pen if you need it

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

At the car:  extra water, dry clothes, shoes, socks, snacks.



Adult beverages



Gloves for wood gathering

Bug spray

Extra small backpack for the day hike



How to Get There:
Event Directions:

Google Map directions from Busbee Park 'n Ride
These directions take you to Blue Ridge and then west on Hwy 5


Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):170Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 1:00 pm
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $68.00 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.


Will this event occur rain or shine? Yes, but not in extremely poor conditions.

NOTE: Please be considerate of others. If you sign-up and cannot attend, please e-mail the event leader, so others that may be on a waiting list may attend. E-mail the event leader to be put on a waiting list if the trip is at the max number of attendees.

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

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