Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
1755 Cleveland Highway
Gainesville, GA 30501
HIGHLIGHTS: The Chattahoochee National Forest is one of two National Forests in the State of Georgia, and it takes its name from the Chattahoochee River whose headwaters begin in the North Georgia mountains. The River and the area were given the name by the English settlers who heard it from the Indians that once lived here. The Chattahoochee National Forest was created when the Forest Service purchased 31,000 acres in Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin and Union Counties from the Gennett family in 1911 for $7.00 per acre. In the beginning, the Chattahoochee was part of the Nantahala and Cherokee National Forests in North Carolina and Tennessee, but eventually the Forest Service made additional land purchases and expanded the Chattahoochee to its current size of nearly 750,000 acres.
The hike to Plumb Orchard Shelter is an in-and-out, backtrack trip that can be done as either a day or overnight hike. This approach starts from Blue Ridge Gap at U.S. Forest Road 72 and follows the Appalachian Trail southbound up and over “As Knob” and down to the shelter. We approached the trailhead from the west via a rough heavily rutted dirt road that absolutely requires four wheel drive. There is not a defined parking area at the junction with the A.T. and there is limited areas to pull a vehicle off to the side. From this point, the hike ascends around 400′ feet to As Knob which has only winter views to the west. From the knob, the Trail drops about 350′ to Plum Orchard Shelter which was has an interesting three level platform structure that was build in 1992. The U.S. Army Rangers helped fly the shelter in to this remote location via helicopter, and there are a few campsites and a well built privy nearby. The creek you cross in the last few steps to the shelter is your water source, so tread lightly.