Hemp Top Trail section GA is a 5.3-mile ridge trail starting from its Dally Gap Trailhead in Blue Ridge, GA and traversing the Blue Ridge Divide to Double Spring Gap which marks the border between Georgia and Tennessee along with the boundary between the Chattahoochee and Cherokee National Forest. The first 4 miles of the trail follows former Forest Service Road 73.
As described the trail begins at Dally Gap and follows former FS73 gaining 378 feet in elevation to its first trail junction at the 1-mile mark where the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) section 10 comes in from the left at Spanish Oak Gap. As expected the trail is wide due to it being a former forest service road.
The BMT section 10 C & D shares the same pathway with the Hemp Top Trail: GA all the way to Double Spring Gap. Now a small portion of the Cohutta Wilderness enters Tennessee and the BMT section 11 continues to share the same pathway with Hemp Top Trail: TN until it diverges on top of Big Frog Mountain.
From the BMT section 10 junction the Hemp Top Trail: GA crosses to the western side of the ridge and continues to slightly gain elevation to the next trail junction with Penitentiary Branch at mile 2.4. Penitentiary Branch Trail begins its 3.6-mile path to the Jacks River Trail and its namesake river. From the BMT to the Penitentiary Branch Trail junction the trail is wide and the change in elevation is less than 100 feet. In this section of the trail, there are some decent winter views into the valley where the Jacks River is winding itself to the northeast. Big Frog Mountain in Tennessee also comes into view.
The trail continues toward Big Frog Mountain going north predominantly on the western edge of the Blue Ridge also known as the Tennessee Valley Divide. Around mile 3.4 the trail swings to the west making a U-shape coming back to the east and back on its northernly route. There are several spots along this western detour of .4 miles where the trail still on top of a ridge offers good winter views of the Cohutta Mountains. The trail circles back to its northernly route and reaches its highest point at mile 4.1 marking the top of Hemp Top Mountain at an elevation of 3,583 feet.
From here the trail continues northward and begins descending for approximately the next half mile. After descending for a half mile the trail begins a series of short ascents and descents much like a roller coaster until it enters a White pine forest and the final short descent to Double Spring Gap (3,228 feet) at mile 5.3.
Double Spring Gap as the name suggests has two springs. One to the east and the other to the west of the trail. Double Spring Gap is also where the border between Georgia, Tennessee, the Cherokee and Chattahoochee National Forest is located indicated by a sign. Double Spring Gap is just a cool place with Big Frog Mountain towering on the northern side of the gap. There is pine straw everywhere from the White pines and adds a different dimension to this focal point. Also, there is a nice campsite next to the western springs.
Hemp Top Trail continues north into Tennessee and the Cohutta Wilderness ascending to the top of Big Frog Mountain and junctions with Big Frog Trail 1.3 miles from Double Spring Gap. At the top of Big Frog Mountain, the Big Frog Trail descends into the Big Frog Wilderness bisecting it and junctions with 6 trails in its wilderness.
Hemp Top Trail section GA is assessed by its Dally Gap Trailhead in Blue Ridge, GA. Dally Gap is also the location of the Jacks River Trail southeastern (high elevation) terminus. From the Dally Gap Trailhead, Jacks River Trail goes left and downhill while the Hemp Top Trail goes right and uphill.
"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
Blue Ridge, GA Access: Until Forest Service Road 64 is fixed below Three Forks Mountain there is only one way to access Dally Gap and that is through Blue Ridge, GA. From Blue Ridge, GA take GA5 North approximately 3.7 miles before turning left onto Old Hwy 2. A standard green Highway 2 street sign marks the turn.
From here drive 10.3 miles to Watson Gap. The first 9 miles are paved. Watson Gap's four-way intersection is marked by a large Cohutta WMA sign. From this intersection take a right onto FS22 and drive approximately 3.3 miles to Dally Gap's Jacks River and Hemp Top Trailheads on the left.
|Hemp Top: GA|
|Hiking to Double Springs Gap:||Easy|
|Dally Gap Trailhead:||2,585 feet|
|Spanish Oak Gap:||2,963 feet|
|Penitentiary Branch:||3,045 feet|
|Hemp Top Mtn:||3,583 feet|
|Double Spring Gap:||3,228 feet|
|Trail Junctions:||Benton MacKaye, Penitentiary Branch|
|Features:||Ridge trail, Double Springs Gap|