The Unicoi Crest above Tellico Plains


Cherokee Hiking Club
198 Crews Drive, Benton, TN 373




Benton MacKaye Trail Dayhike
Section 5 - Wilscott Gap to Shallowford Bridge
Saturday, April 30, 2011

Suspension Bridge over Toccoa River

Distance: 7.7 miles 

Difficulty Rating: This hike is rated strenuous due to the length and significant elevation gain (approximately 2000 feet).  We will go over or near the summits of four named peaks, including Brawley Mountain and Tipton Mountain, before we drop back down for the last section along the shoaling Toccoa River.  Total elevation change for the hike (up and down) is approximately 4,100 feet, so it will be a good workout.

Leader: Randy Morris @ 423-650-0485  

Brief Desription: It is time for my annual pilgrimage to the Georgia section of the BMT to enjoy the north Georgia mountains.  We will drive to Shallowford Bridge (over the Toccoa River), south of Blue Ridge, and set a car shuttle in place.  We will then proceed to the Wilscot Gap trailhead on Highway. 60, and begin the hike - going northeast to southwest on BMT section 5.   The trail encompasses a wide variety of habitats from dry upland slopes to moist bottomland and areas of pine forest.  Hopefully we will see an abundance of wild flowers on this hike, as we are going during “peak season” for this trail, according to the trail guides.

Directions to the Meeting Point: Contact Randy for meeting point details. If interested in attending or for more details, please call Randy Morris at 423-650-0485 no later than 9 p.m. Thursday evening, April 28, so plans for the car shuttle can be made.  It will be a fairly long day, but it should be a great one!

Post-Trip Report:   After putting in place our car shuttle, 5 hikers set out on Section 5 of the Benton MacKaye Trail—hiking from north to south, which is the easier route.  This route goes over the top (or just skirts the top) of four named peaks—Tipton Mountain, Bald Top, Brawley Mountain and Garland Mountain.

It was a spectacular day as we traveled this section of trail—the skies were cloudless and a breeze blew off and on throughout the day.  Along the route we viewed good wildflower displays in places—flame azalea, dwarf iris, trillium and an abundance of large may-apples.  We enjoyed good views from the peaks as the leaves were just coming on the trees at the higher elevations. We especially liked the views from the base of the fire tower on Brawley Mountain. We also enjoyed the large tulip poplars along the route—picture happy hikers gazing up to the tops of giant poplars and one enthusiastic hiker being a true “tree hugger”. You will have to see this in your mind only, however, as a dysfunctional camera prevented me from getting pictures from the hike.  I guess you truly just had to be there!  The Toccoa River was full and impressive as we viewed it before and after the trek. 

Back in Blue Ridge, everyone joined together for good food and fellowship at the Serenity Garden Café.  The fresh coconut cream pie was delicious—again you should have been there!  Hikers were James Anderson, Sheila Bailey, Judy White, Mary White and leader Randy Morris.


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