The Conasauga River Trail #61 is located just north of the Tennessee border in the Cherokee National Forest. It is a 3.0-mile trail measured from its FS221 trailhead to its first and only river crossing that junctions with the Iron Mountain Trail coming up north from the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia.
The other nearby Conasauga River Trail #11 in the Cohutta Wilderness has no association with this trail. Conasauga River Trail #11 in the Cohutta Wilderness begins near the river's headwaters at Betty Gap and continues following the river downstream for 13.1 miles to its northwest trailhead at Murray Lake. It requires 38 river fordings. Here is its Link.
The Conasauga River Trail #61 is much wider than its sister trail in the Cohutta Wilderness because it is further downstream and its after the Jacks River has merged with it greatly increasing its size offering fantastic views and many recreational opportunities.
The trail starts off by crossing a quaint wooden bridge covered with love graffiti and promptly after adjoins the Conasauga River on its right bank. For the next 3.0 miles, the trail parallels the river downstream on its right bank.
The trail follows an old timber roadbed offering a flat hike for the duration of the trail. There are several excellent day only campsites on the river. One even has a beech. The trail rises slightly on a ridge in some areas and offers spectacular views of the river.
The choices for swimming are abundant where one apparent swimming hole appears to be 30 feet deep in normal conditions. The rapids are truly amazing in some areas with incredible rock formations. As quickly as the rapids appear in some places they disappear producing a magnificent smooth flowing wide river. There are also some large boulders on the trail and even a rope swing for the brave of heart.
At the end of the trail, the Conasauga River Trail #61 comes to its first and only river crossing. On the other side of the river is the Iron Mountain Trail junction. This 7.3-mile trail originates in the Chattahoochee National Forest located in Georgia and winds its way north into Tennesse where it junctions with the Conasauga River Trail #61 at this point.
There is a sign indicating the danger of crossing the river here after sustained rainfall. During normal times the river is thigh deep and may rise as high as 5 feet after heavy rainfall.
The USDA Forest Service offers guided snorkeling programs through the Ocoee Whitewater Center for groups of 12 to 24 people. More information may be found here at Link. Experienced paddlers wanting to paddle the scenic river section may do so from Jacks River to the US-411 Bridge. It is a difficult yet popular 10.1-mile paddling trip featuring Class II and III rapids. (Put in coordinates 34.98833, -84.64278; Take out coordinates 35.00888, -84.73389).
A loop trail including the Conasauga River Trail #61 and the Iron Mountain Trail is 11.6 miles. It usually begins at the Cottonwood Patch campsite just across the Georgia State line in the Chattahoochee National Forest.
The Iron Mountain Trail travels 100 meters or so before swinging north and crossing a smaller Conasauga River in Georgia from its trailhead at the Cottonwood Patch campsite.
After crossing the river the trail begins winding east and eventually swings up north eventually ending at a ridgetop section and an overlook at the 6.0-mile mark. The overlook opens in three directions and offers beautiful vistas of the Cohutta and into Tennessee. From the overlook, the trail begins its 1.3 mile downhill run to the Conasauga River in Tennessee.
After crossing the Conasauga River in Tennessee the loop trail follows the Conasauga River Trail #61 upstream for 3.0 miles to its Sheeds Creek Trailhead for a total of 10.3 miles.
From there just walk east on FS221 until you come to the intersection with FS16 and take a right where you will cross a steel bridge spanning the Jacks River. From there it is less than a mile back to the parking lot marked Day Use Only(Park here or its $8.00 dollars due to equestrian parking) at the Cottonwoodpatch campsite for a total of 11.6 miles.
"A wilderness...is hereby recognized as an area where the
earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man,
where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
- Wilderness Act of 1964
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, the road is paved for the first 1.8 miles before turning into gravel. At mile 3.1 the road (FS Rd 16) comes to the West Cowpen Check Station on the left and the first road intersection, FS17 goes right, and FS16 continues straight, continue straight on FS16 for the next 4.4 miles until at mile 7.5 the road comes to another intersection.
FS51 goes right and FS16 continues straight and to the left. Continue on FS16 which immediately passes the Cottonwood Patch campground on the left. Continue on FS16 crossing a metal bridge over the Jacks River. After crossing the bridge into Tennessee FS16 immediately comes to an intersection with FS221. Take a left at the intersection and travel less than a mile and a sign indicating Conasauga River Trail #61 will be on the left. Turn left onto the road and drive 100 yards to the trailhead.
Total Distance from Hwy 411: 8.8 miles - Have Fun!
|Conasauga River Trail #61|
|Access:||FS Rd 221|
|Out and Back:||6.0 m|
|FS221 Trailhead:||955 feet|
|Trail Junction:||Iron Mountain|
|Features:||Conasauga River TN|