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Exploring the Cohutta Wilderness Area: Beech Bottoms Jacks River Falls Hike

November 15, 2016

Back in early October, we took an impromptu (and long) day trip to the Cohutta Wilderness Area in Northwest Georgia. It’s an area we had longed to go and backpack, but somehow finding the time for an overnight was tough this summer. Instead, we loaded Moose into the car and left our cabin in Tiger, Georgia early in the morning for the three hour drive through the mountains to go on a hike.

img_3742The Cohutta Wilderness Area is an amazing, lush, untouched area filled with forest, waterfalls, rivers, and a relative sense of isolation – or as isolated as you can get in the South. It covers almost 37,000 acres in Northwest Georgia boarding Tennessee.

img_3745-1While looking for a trail, we decided 9 miles was a perfect day trip amount – short enough to take our time, long enough to hopefully tire out Moose. (Spoiler: Anything less than 13 miles in a day does nothing to tire her out.)

We chose to hike to the Jacks River Falls via the Beech Bottoms trail. It starts out in Tennessee technically, and it was a long drive down a gravel road to get to the trail head. This site was incredibly helpful in finding the trailheads and setting up naviation to get there.

The great thing about this trail was it had several water crossings – perfect for Moose who loves to lay down in water while she drinks.

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The forest was incredibly lush and green, and smelled just so fresh. Being in the woods is one of my most relaxing places, and I love any chance I get to just wander on the trails.

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When we finally reached the river bed opening up to the waterfalls, we ran into a few other people. There were college kids out sunbathing, and fellow hikers resting. We found a nice sunny spot on the rocks where we sunbathed, ate a light lunch, and napped. It was a perfect, sunny day – well worth the long drive time. img_3757img_3762img_3764img_3771img_3767

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Note: We had planned on doing a fall backpacking trip in this area once the weather cooled down. Due to drought conditions, the Cohutta Wilderness Area has been closed to all traffic through January 1, 2017. Over 17,000 acres are currently burning and it is expected to engulf the entire wilderness. As far as I am aware, the current management objective is to allow the fire to burn, fulfilling a natural ecological goal. Firefighters will intervene only to save private property.

Currently wildfires are sweeping across the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, over 25 days of no rain have contributed to these fires being started by lightening strikes and improperly extinguished campfires. Please, look up the area you’d like to explore before planning any trips in the Southeast this fall, and for the love of nature PLEASE properly extinguish any fires you may start.

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