Sumac Creek Trail is a 10.8-mile loop trail in the Chattahoochee National Forest located approximately 1.7 miles from the northwestern trailhead of the Conasauga River Trail in the Cohutta Wilderness.
The trail was a joint project of the USDA Forest Service with SORBA and the Cohutta Volunteers and completed in 1997.
SORBA is the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association and the original motivation of this trail almost two decades ago was mountain biking.
As of February 2016, the trail had become impassable to a mountain bike and certain parts for a hiker were difficult to traverse especially from the trail intersection of Sumac Creek on its western end up to the southern parallel ridge where FS630c is located. Deadfall on this part of the trail was horrendous.
Fortunately, the Forest Service did a controlled burn in March 2016 and cleared all the deadfall from the trail with a small tractor. It did have the effect of turning large amounts of the trail into dirt.
However, the trail still has a lot to offer with it traversing two parallel ridges and crossing Sumac Creek a minimum of a couple of times with an additional 3.6 miles possible if the figure eight route is chosen. The trail changes elevation at its western end descending into the valley where Sumac Creek resides. After crossing the creek it climbs in elevation immediately to the opposite ridge. The change in elevation is minimal compared to the Cohutta Wilderness.
This trail will be described walking the northern ridge first. From its FS17A Trailhead, the trail shares its treadway with FS17A offering splendid views to the left with deep views into the valley that Sumac Creek bisects. At mile 2.1 the trail bisecting the loop comes in from the left. It is a 1.8-mile shortcut trail that turns the loop into a figure eight trail if desired.
The trail continues another 1.5 miles on FS17A to two campgrounds with pleasant views and may be accessed by vehicle. From these campgrounds, the trail passes a gated old road and continues for another 1.2 miles on some of the coolest switchbacks in the area. The trail intersects Sumac Creek at the 5-mile mark.
The creek is worth the walk alone buried in a valley with almost 100% chance of solitude. Muddy Branch joins Sumac Creek at this intersection and this is the furthest downstream that the trail will intersect the creek.
The trail continues to the opposite ridge and parallels to the one just hiked. This part of the trail rarely used by hikers offers some of the best scenic views in the Chattahoochee National Forest.
The trail continues on the opposite ridge passing the bisect trail at the 7.1-mile mark and intersecting with FR630C and its gate at the 7.2-mile mark. There is a gated road at the end of FR630C. The trail continues past this gated road to the east.
Shortly after this intersection, there is another intersection where there is no trail blaze or ribbons. The road continues to the left and there is a trail that goes right and up a short hill. Take the wide trail up the hill which turns into a footpath. Once on top, the trail turns right onto a small ridge and continues on top turning into a picturesque section of the trail before turning east and descending again into the valley on its eastern end bisecting Sumac Creek again at the 8.8-mile mark.
After crossing Sumac Creek for the 2nd time the trail begins climbing gradually on a wide trail for the next mile. The trail comes to another intersection that can be tricky to interpret. The trail turns due left marked by a blaze at the intersection and continues zigzagging 1.1 miles to complete the loop at the FS17A Trailhead.
As mentioned previously there is an additional 1.8-mile spur trail bisecting the middle which has been maintained giving Sumac Creek Trail an optional long distance double-loop trail measuring 14.4 miles.
"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness"
- John Muir
Cisco, GA Access: From Eton, GA (one-red-light town) go North 8.8 miles on 411 until GA2. Take a right onto Old Hwy GA2 at Cisco Baptist Church.
The road is paved for the first 1.8 miles. At mile 3.1 the road (Forest Service Rd 16) passes the West Cowpen Check Station on the left and its first road intersection. FS16 continues straight, and to the right is FS17, take a right onto FS17 and continue 2.1 miles to Sumac Creek Trailhead to the right on FS17A.
Total Distance from Hwy 411: 5.2 miles Have Fun!
|Hiking Loop:||Easy to Moderate|
|Hiking Figure Eight:||Moderate|
|FS17A Trailhead:||1,683 feet|
|Sumac Creek Elevation:||965 feet|
|Features:||Sumac Creek, Panoramic Views|