The Cowee Mountains is the highest mountain range in the Highlands-Cashiers area, with many mountains approaching 5000 feet. This hike leads to the highest point in the Cowee Mountains as well as the highest point in the entire Highlands-Cashiers area, Yellow Mountain. Yellow Mountain rises to 5127 feet, and has a historic, renovated fire lookout. You'll also pass over several other mountains with great winter views and some viewpoints as well. Chances are you will be tired by the time you make it back to the trailhead at Cole Gap, and although the fact that the route back is almost as hard as the way in is pretty major, the rewards will sill be worth it, especially on a clear day. This hike occurred on Thursday, November 27th, 2014. My plan was to hike the Yellow Mountain Trail from Cole Gap to Yellow Mountain, and then return the same way.
The Southern Cumberland Plateau is an incredibly scenic area. There's dozens of scenic gorges, full of waterfalls and rugged cliffs. North Chickamauga Creek Gorge is one of my ultimate favorites in this area after doing this hike. The rugged mountain streams in this gorge have beautiful waters, the gorge floor is incredibly beautiful, and the views of the upper section of the gorge are.... simply amazing. This hike occurred on Saturday, November 22nd, 2014. My plan was to start this hike from the gate at the end of the open Barker Camp Road, and follow Barker Camp Road on foot to the old turnaround. From there, I would follow an old jeep road to the Cumberland Trail, and take the Cumberland Trail south into North Chickamauga Creek Gorge. Before plunging into the gorge, I would stop at Panther Creek Overlook. Once in the gorge, I would ford Cooper Creek and reach the destination at Stevenson Branch Falls. My original destination was Boston Branch Overlook, but by seeing how much time it took to reach Stevenson Branch Falls, and seeing the deteriorating nature of the trail after Stevenson Branch Falls, I had to cut my plans by some.
Little Frog Wilderness: Rock Creek Trail, Dry Pond Lead Trail, and Tanasi Trail System, Ducktown, Tennessee
Big Frog Mountain is the highest mountain in southeastern Tennessee, topping out at over 4000 feet. The mountain and surrounding areas are protected by the combined Cohutta - Big Frog Wilderness. The newest addition to the area, though, is the Little Frog Wilderness, a smaller tract of land across from Big Frog Wilderness and US Highway 64. This tract protects the Panther Knob area, the better portion of Dry Pond Lead, and Rock Creek/Pressley Cove. Two trails, the Dry Pond Lead Trail and the Rock Creek Trail, provide access to the wilderness area, and you won't regret hiking them. This hike occurred on November 15th, 2014. My plan was to hike through most of the Little Frog Wilderness by starting at the Rock Creek Trailhead and hiking the entire Rock Creek Trail to the junction with the Dry Pond Lead Trail/Benton Mackaye Trail. Here, I would turn south onto the Dry Pond Lead Trail and follow it to US-64 and Ocoee Powerhouse No. 3. Then, I would enter the Tanasi Trail System, and take the Thunder Rock Express Trail to the Chestnut Mountain Trail. Next, I would follow the Chestnut Mountain Trail east, before exiting onto the Bear Paw Paw Trail that would lead down to Ocoee Whitewater Center. I would close the loop by hitchhiking 0.8 miles of US-64 to Rock Creek Trailhead (something I wouldn't recommend you to do!).
Providence Canyon State Park: Canyon Rim Trail, Canyons 1-5, and Canyon Backcountry Loop, Lumpkin, Georgia
Providence Canyon State Park is an anomaly. A colorful set of canyons, like an excerpt from Arizona or Utah, in the middle of southern Georgia's flatlands. Although unlike its bigger western brothers, Providence Canyon is indirectly man-made. It is the consequence of poor farming practices in the late 1800s. Major soil erosion followed, forming nearly a dozen of fragile canyons with many weird sandstone formations. The park itself is not the best destination for the more professional hiker, but it is a great sightseeing place. If you feel like it, spend the night one one of the six excellent campsites on the Backcountry Loop - or if you're up to an early start, pack the whole canyons excursion and the loop in one day. This hike occurred on Saturday, November 8th, 2014. My plan was to hike the Canyon Rim Trail into the canyons. Then, I planned to hike through at least Canyons 1-5, maybe more time-permitting. Then, I planned to hike the Canyon Backcountry Loop counterclockwise, ending back at the Canyon Rim Trailhead.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 468.7 Miles