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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 Loop Hike - East Cowpen, Hickory Ridge, Beech Bottom & Rough Ridge

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: Cohutta Wilderness Area   Hike: Cohutta Wilderness Loop Hike - East Cowpen, Hickory Ridge, Beech Bottom & Rough Ridge  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Mar 5 2022  8:00 am >> Sat, Mar 5 2022 4:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 6:30 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Fri, Feb 25 2022 12:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Sat, Mar 5 2022 8:00 am
Event Duration:8 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult
Distance:16 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Mike Pawloski
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:8
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 5 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: Yes


The Cohutta Wilderness covers 36,977 acres (about 60 square miles) that spill over the Georgia/Tennessee border and lie within the 95,265-acre Cohutta Wildlife Management Area. It was designated as a wilderness in 1975. Hemp Top was added in 1986, making this the third largest mountain wilderness area in the East.  More interesting information about the Cohutta's is available here:

Please note this event covers a demanding route.  If you have not completed a recent D5 hike/backpack or we have not been on an event previously, expect to have a conversation regarding fitness and capabilities. 

This loop will traverse four trails - East Cowpen, Hickory Ridge, Beech Bottom and Rough Ridge. The hike in and descent down Hickory Ridge is steep. Once at Beech Bottom. we'll cross the Jacks River twice.  We'll lunch around here and then continue along Rough Creek and Rough Ridge, hiking our way back to the parking lot.

In the Notes section below is a map of the route, an elevation profile, and some trail signage we'll encounter.

One dog in addition to the Trip Leaders Lab, Kody, will be permitted on the trip.  The Trip Leader will meet at the carpool but will not be transporting passengers in his vehicle for this event.    

Required Items to Bring:
  • Hiking Boots / Water Shoes for river crossings
  • Food and Snacks (1 lunch and/or snacks you prefer)
  • Water/Liquids for hydration
  • Fun, positive attitude!
Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.
  • Hiking Poles
  • Change of Clothes and Towel (optional)
  • Cash for Carpool

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

Three Forks Parking Area Coordinates are 34.8815613, -84.5658722

Directions: From Atlanta, GA: Take I-75 to I-575, and follow I-575 up into North Georgia. I-575 will become Route 515. In Elijay, take a left onto Soule Bridge, and immediately another left onto GA Route 52. In downtown Elijay, take the second exit to the right on the roundabout. Follow GA 52 for 5.2 miles until Gates Chapel Road. Turn right onto Gates Chapel Road and follow it for 5.4 miles. When pavement will end, keep right onto Wilderness Trl. Follow it for 1.5 miles, and then take a right onto Old CCC Camp Road. Follow it for 3.2 miles to the top of the mountain and USFS 64. Turn right onto USFS 64, and follow it for 4.2 miles until you will see a large parking lot on the left of the road, while the road itself sharply switchbacks to the right. 

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):150Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 6:30 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.


Dotted with place names like Crooked Dog Gap and Rough Creek, this ~ 16 mile route mixes rugged ridgeline climbs and quiet riverside campsites.

In summary, we'll start at the Three Forks Parking Area and hike clockwise up East Cowpen to Hickory Ridge (blue), cross the river, hike a short distance, cross again (blue) and head back via Rough Ridge.  Ahead of our second Jacks River crossing we'll need to spot a blue trail blaze across the river to guide us as to where we should proceed - this can be tricky. 

Here's an elevation profile of the hike:

Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 4260 ft
Total Loss: 4018 ft
Net Change: 242 ft


Here's a sign at the intersection of Rough Ridge Trail and Jack's River Trail which we will encounter after our second Jack's River crossing. 

The Trip Leader(s) reserves the right to consider participant's past history and to make the final determination for participation on this hike.

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

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