MORE INFORMATION: Cohutta Wilderness Area National Forest Service 401 Old Ellijay Road Chatsworth, GA 30705 (706) 695-6736
HIGHLIGHTS: The Cohutta Wilderness at 36,977 acres is the largest National Forest Wilderness in the southeast and combined with the Big Frog Wilderness in Tennessee the area is some of the most pristine and isolated in the South. Both the Conasauga and Jacks Rivers are stocked with trout and have great fishing. There’s also numerous sand bars, waterfalls, pools, and campsites along the rivers which makes this a very popular overnight destination. The Conasauga River is a favorite destination in North Georgia for both hikers and their dogs, and it is particularly worthy in the warm summer months when fishing and swimming are possible in the many shallow pools tucked along the scenic river. For overnight backpackers, there are numerous campsites along the Conasauga, and they generally get less traffic than the nearby Jack River (and the Jack River Falls area). Nonetheless, the area is very popular with all types of outdoorsman including hikers, hunters, fisherman, and horsemen, so don’t expect complete solitude without hiking deep into the Cohutta Wilderness.
The hike to the Conasauga River is an out-and-back hike, following the Hickory Creek Trail from the parking area at Forest Service Road 630. The trail is not marked in the wilderness area but it is easily followed to the river on a wide path that was once a route for trains that harvested timber out of the Conasauga drainage in the early 1900′s. The path makes a gradual, well-graded descent through a series of hardwoods and is a pleasant walk at any time of year. As the trail levels out and crosses a small tributary to the Conasauga, the Hickory Creek Trail comes to an abrupt halt and meets the Conasauga River Trail at the water.