Introduction to Smart Hiking

guidedhikingboard.jpgAccording to Backpacker Magazine, "Hiking is like fine dining and hot-tubbing: It's a pleasure best enjoyed in good company."  That's us.  Just tell us what you'd like to see, how much time you have and the level of physical challenge you're in the mood for, and we will custom design a guided hike for you.  Think of us as your adventure concierge service.  Planning ahead is great, but we're just looking for a reason to head outside, so please don't hesitate to call with a spur of the moment request and we will do our best to accommodate.   42% of Fannin County’s land area is comprised of the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Cohutta Wilderness, so there are plenty of places to hike.  Here are a few of our favorites:

Cohutta Wilderness - Conasauga River Trail

Trek into the heart of the Cohutta Wilderness on this 12.1-mile shuttle hike along the Conasauga River Trail. This hike scours the river’s most scenic stretches, passing SUV-sized boulders of limestone and granite, towering hemlock and oak trees, beaver ponds, and an unending succession of waterfalls and trout pools. The real challenge is the trail’s 38 river crossings. River shoes (or sandals), trekking poles, and a waterproof stuff sack are required (and available at our store) as the water can be waist-deep near the western end of the trail. When in doubt, keep hiking downstream and downhill.  This trail is a fun challenge in normal weather conditions. Should rainfall make it difficult, or if you prefer a less strenuous but equally scenic hike, we can easily modify.  Just ask.  A Georgia fishing license and trout stamp is required to fish on this trail.

jacks-river-trail-445x260.jpgJacks River Falls

The Jacks River trailhead lies tucked into dense greenery.  Dozens of glass-clear swimming holes line the 16.3-mile route that drops 1,592 feet from trailhead to terminus.  After the junction with the Benton MacKaye Trail, prepare for the first of more than 43 water crossings.  Take in the view of dark and dripping Jacks River gorge at an overlook before you drop back down to the river to ford its wide, swift current.  

Just want to see the Falls?

If you take the out-and-back trail, it is 4.12 miles total and the river crossing will take you to the falls and to the end of Jack's River trail near Tennessee. Less strenuous - equally beautiful and fun.  Just ask. 

Big Frog Wilderness

Backpackers usually have one of two locales in mind when they head out the door: summits or stream bottoms. One features views, refreshing breezes, and the satisfaction of a worthy mountain climbed. The other offers swimming holes, lush plant life, and the meditative sound of water flowing across stone. It's usually an either/or proposition, unless you're heading for Georgia's Big Frog Wilderness.  Solitude-a quality you expect but too rarely find in the East's wilderness areas-is the defining characteristic of Big Frog.  Trails in Big Frog are rugged, unsigned, and minimally maintained. The Forest Service rates all but one as "low use," the exception being the long-distance Benton MacKaye. Hitch a ride on the Benton MacKaye and swing back on the Big Frog Trail to create a 13-mile loop that showcases the Big Frog Wilderness at its best: knife-edge ridges, shady pine forests, rhododendron tunnels, and the prospect of encounters with bears, boars, and wild turkeys.  Big Frog also provides several shorter, easier "day hike" options that we would love to show you.  Just ask. 

at-bmysign.jpgAmicola Falls to Springer Mountain and The Appalachian Trail (AT)

It's not officially the AT but this 8.8-mile hike climbs past Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail.  The 729-foot Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River.  The falls are spectacular and there are lots of ways to get to them.  If you're looking for a shorter, less strenuous option, we know several - Just ask.



toccoa-footbridge-collage.jpgTooni Mountain & Swinging Bridge

The Swinging Bridge is one of those great places to stop and spend some time even if you don't want to spend the night.  Plan on an extended break to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.  The Toccoa River is broad and fast moving, dropping quickly as it makes a wide sweeping curve around Tooni Mountain.  On weekends from the Spring to the Fall people in canoes, kayaks and rafts travel down the river from Deep Hole to the Dial Bridge.  From the bridge you begin a gradual ascent out of the Toccoa River valley and up Tooni (or Toonowee) Mountain.  This climb is easy at first, getting harder as you reach the ridge that forms the summit of the mountain.  From here to the top the path "rolls," following an ascent/descent pattern familiar to hikers for the next mile as you reach the acme of the mountain then follow the ridge down.  Everyone should experience the bridge and there are more direct, less strenuous routes to take.  We'll be happy to share them with youJust ask.