The Appalachian Trail has both grand vistas as well as much smaller ones that are equally breathtaking. The view from Wolfstake Knob falls into the latter category. Located on the Tennessee Valley Divide, Wolfstake Knob provides a memorable view to the east with Lake Burton and the mountains of Rabun County in the picture. On this hike, you will follow the Appalachian Trail to the great view from Wolfstake Knob, and then, you will continue following the footpath which becomes much less used and provides plenty of solitude around Kelly Knob and Addis Gap. This hike occurred on Saturday, October 8th, 2016. My plan was to hike the Appalachian Trail out and back from Dicks Creek Gap to Addis Gap. I would take the spur trail to Wolfstake Knob and its views, as well as the spur trail to Deep Gap Shelter, along the way.
R/T Length of Trail: 11.7 Miles
Duration of Hike: 7:40
Type of Hike: Out and Back
Difficulty Rating: 7 out of 10
Total Elevation Gain: 3702 Feet
Pros: Many great campsites
Cons: No major points of interest beyond Wolfstake Knob
Points of Interest: Wolfstake Knob Overlook - 6 stars
Trail Blaze Color(s): Appalachian Trail - White; Wolfstake Knob Vista Spur Trail - Blue; Deep Gap Shelter Spur Trail - Blue
Best Season(s) to Hike: Winter
Beginning Point: Dicks Creek Gap Trailhead
Directions from Hiawassee, GA: From the intersection of Main Street and River Street in downtown Hiawassee, follow US 76 East (S Main Street) for 10.4 miles to Dicks Creek Gap. The Appalachian Trail parking area will be on the left side of the highway at Dicks Creek Gap.
Click here for more information and to download this trail map to view in Garmin Basecamp.
A couple of years ago, I did a hike along the Appalachian Trail along the Tennessee Valley Divide from Addis Gap to Tray Mountain, and I enjoyed the hike a lot, due to the extensive winter views throughout the hike, which constantly followed the ridgeline. On this day, I decided to hike the adjacent section from Dicks Creek Gap to Addis Gap, which I had suspected woul be similar. While it is generally not as gorgeous as its neighbor to the south, this section of the AT was still a great hike with rewarding views from Wolfstake Knob.
From the parking area at Dicks Creek Gap, take the Appalachian Trail southbound, which leaves the road from the side opposite the parking area (south side of the road). Passing a mileage sign, the trail loses no time in beginning the ascent to a small unnamed knob. passing through a gap near the knob at 0.3 miles. After this, the trail begins ascending the lower portions of Snake Knob. Soon, the trail meets Dicks Creek, which is a very small stream at this point. The trail then follows it, passing a small wet-weather waterfall to the left with a bench in front of it, before crossing the creek. At 0.6 miles, the trail crosses a lead and then actually begins descending towards Shook Branch. I was slightly apprehensive about how this ascent would feel on the way back, as I knew that the hike would involve nearly 4000 feet of elevation gain, but luckily, I was in great shape on this day. At 1.1 miles, a spur trail to the left leaves to water at the head of Shook Branch. After this, the Appalachian Trail resumes the ascent. Reach Moreland Gap at 1.25 miles; a nice campsite lies to the right of the trail.
Following Moreland Gap, the trail makes a lengthy moderate ascent to Powell Mountain. The trail passes through a rhododendron tunnel near the summit and then passes just west of the high point at 2.35 miles, before dropping into McClure Gap at 2.5 miles. Then, the trail ascends to an unnamed knob just east of Wolfstake Knob. At 2.65 miles, near the top of the unnamed knob, a blue-blazed spur trail signed "Vista" leaves to the left. This spur trail leads to the Wolfstake Knob Overlook. A curious thing is that despite being widely referred to as the Wolfstake Knob Overlook, this view is actually from the unnamed knob just east of Wolfstake Knob.
Tale the spur trail. Pass over the summit of the knob, where there is a campsite, and then drop down to a rock ledge at 2.75 miles. This ledge, at the end of the spur trail, provides the Wolfstake Knob Overlook - a great view to the east into Rabun County and towards Lake Burton. The view is somewhat similar to the east view near the summit of Tray Mountain, and that view might actually be better, although the Wolfstake Knob Overlook is lower and puts some closer details in view.
Beyond the Wolfstake Knob Overlook, there is little to see throughout the rest of the hike, if you're looking for outstanding points of interest. There is also a lot of elevation change beyond Wolfstake Knob, but my plan was to hike the section for the sake of completion, and despite there not being much to see, it is still a nice section of trail. From the Wolfstake Knob Overlook, return to the Appalachian Trail at 2.85 miles and turn left onto it. The trail descends into a gap and then skirts Wolfstake Knob itself to the south. A brief ascent brings the trail to a low point on a lead that extends south from Wolfstake Knob. Then, the AT descends moderately into Deep Gap, reaching the gap at 3.8 miles. There may be some good winter views to the west.
At Deep Gap, I decided to do the quick extension to Deep Gap Shelter. Turn left onto the signed blue-blazed spur trail to the shelter. The spur trail continues a gradual descent. At 4.0 miles, a signed path leads to water. The trail ends at the Deep Gap Shelter at 4.1 miles. This is a fairly small shelter, but it does have two "stories". There is also a picnic table and a large arae of campsites around the shelter. Personally though, I prefer the campsites in Moreland Gap and near Wolfstake Knob rather than at the Deep Gap Shelter, as the former two sites are located on the ridge and I would always prefer a ridge/summit campsite over all others.
From the Deep Gap Shelter, retrace your steps to the AT and turn left to continue hiking toward Addis Gap. This is where a lengthy ascent to Kelly Knob begins (although the trail never does actually reach the summit). With some winter views, the trail passes to the west of Dismal Knob and passes through Dismal Gap, below Kelly Knob, at 4.9 miles. After this, the moderate ascent continues as the trail skirts Kelly Knob to the east and reaches a high point on a ridge below the summit of Kelly Knob at 5.25 miles. It is worth noting that some maps show Kelly Knob as Double Spring Knob. From the high point on the ridge, there is a small opening in the trees to the left of the trail, with a view to the east.
Following the high point, most of the rest of the trail to Addis Gap is downhill, and some of it is quite steep. In the next mile, the trail descends about 800 feet. At 5.6 miles, an opening in the trees provides a decent view to the west into the Swallow Creek Wildlife Management Area. This is the best west view on the hike, and it is the only year-round view to the west. The trail becomes steeper following this view. At 6.25 miles, the AT reaches Addis Gap. There are several well-used campsites to the right of the trail in the gap.
In Addis Gap, a blue-blazed side trail leads to South Fork Moccasin Creek and to a trailhead at the end of Wildcat Creek Road. This trailhead can be used to split into half the long roadless segment of the Appalachian Trail between Tray Gap and Dicks Creek Gap. Also, in Addis Gap, an old roadbed leaves to the right into the Swallow Creek WMA and soon enters the Mill Creek watershed, where a couple of waterfalls may be seen. I have yet to see these waterfalls or verify what is the best access point for them. Additionally, you can continue on the Appalachian Trail to Tray Mountain via Round Top and Young Lick; there are several great viewpoints on Tray Mountain. However, for this day hike, Addis Gap is your turnaround point. Simply retrace your steps back to Dicks Creek Gap along the Appalachian Trail. The first part of the route back (the ascent back up Kelly Knob) will have you breathing hard. You will eventually return to your car at Dicks Creek Gap at 11.7 miles, concluding the hike.
0.0 - Dicks Creek Gap Trailhead
1.25 - Moreland Gap
2.35 - Powell Mountain
2.5 - McClure Gap
2.75 - Wolfstake Knob Overlook
3.8 - Deep Gap
4.1 - Deep Gap Shelter
5.25 - High point near Kelly Knob
5.6 - View west
6.25 - Addis Gap
11.7 - Dicks Creek Gap Trailhead
Hike out and back to Wolfstake Knob Overlook - 5.5 Miles
Hike out and back to Deep Gap Shelter (including Wolfstake Knob side trip) - 8.0 Miles
Hike out and back to Tray Mountain (including Wolfstake Knob and Deep Gap side trips) - 18.7 Miles
Near Hiawassee, the summit of Bell Mountain can be reached by a steep paved road. There is an incredible 360-degree view from the summit.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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