Cherokee Hiking Club
198 Crews Drive, Benton, TN 37307
Benton MacKaye Trail Dayhike
Section 2 - Three Forks to Skeenah Creek
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Distance: 12.2 miles
Difficulty Rating: Strenuous due to length and elevation gain. We will go from approximately 1,800 feet of elevation at the beginning up to around 3,200 feet, back down to about 1,800 at the river and back up and down a small mountain another 800 feet. I am planning on an average pace of about 2 mph.
Leader: Randy Morris @ 423-338-9464
Brief Desription: After putting in place a car shuttle, we will hike this beautiful section of the Benton MacKaye Trail from south at Three Forks to north at GA Highway 60. This hike has it all—old growth trees, cascades, Long Creek Falls, a wildlife opening with great views and a suspension bridge high over the Toccoa River. Plus, it is planned on a date which is supposed to be at the peak of the wildflower season and the silverbell bloom.
Directions to the Meeting Point: We will leave from the overflow parking lot at the Ocoee Hardee’s at 8:00 a.m. and will plan to eat at a restaurant around Blue Ridge after the hike. It will be a long day, but should be a great one! If interested, please call Randy Morris at 338-9464 no later than Friday evening, April 24.
Post-Trip Report: After putting in place our car shuttle, we set out on Section 2 of the Benton MacKaye Trail—the section from Three Forks to Little Skeenah Creek. The first mile or so of trail is shared with the famed AT and is a nice section with old growth trees (featuring white pine, hemlock and tulip poplar) and beautiful Long Creek. Just before the splitting off from the AT, we took the short side trail to Long Creek Falls which had a good spring flow and was quite refreshing on a day that was unusually warm for late April. After bridging Long Creek we began to go uphill toward the high point of our trek at 3,250 feet. We then “roller coastered” for the next 4 miles or so before beginning our descent to the Toccoa River. Along the way we enjoyed great views of the surrounding mountains—especially to the east. We first heard, then viewed, the shoaling Toccoa River and crossed the 260 ft. long suspension bridge. After a refreshing break on the shores of the Toccoa, we then began to climb back out to Tooni Mountain—our final mountain destination of the day. We enjoyed fantastic views of the valley and surrounding mountains during our final 2 miles on the trail. The day was quite warm, but beautiful, with very clear skies. The area had a late spring so were ahead of most of the wildflowers. But the late season did give us winter-like views—with no leaves to obscure the surrounding countryside. We ended a good day with a tasty dinner in Blue Ridge at Serenity Garden Café. Making the 12.2 mile trip were James Anderson, Bob Bennett, Lettie Burress, Donna & Mark Cameron and hike leader Randy Morris.
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