Mark Trail Wilderness: Jacks Knob Trail to Chattahoochee Spring, Appalachian Trail to Red Clay Gap, and Joel Creek Trail to Joel Creek Falls and Gurley Creek Falls, Hiawassee, Georgia
Folks who live in the Atlanta metro area are very familiar with the Chattahoochee River: one of Georgia's largest rivers and a source of drinking water for many. But where does the river begin? In the North Georgia Mountains near Helen and Hiawassee, where a tiny spring gives birth to a rivulet that is the same Chattahoochee River as the one that feeds Lake Lanier and Walter F. George Lake. The Jacks Knob Trail in Chattahoochee National Forest's Mark Trail Wilderness is the shortest route to the source of the Chattahoochee River. The Chattahoochee Spring isn't the only point of interest in the area, however; two nearby creeks drop off the north side of the Tennessee Valley Divide and form large waterfalls on their way into the Hiwassee River valley. This hike occurred on Saturday, January 7th, 2017. My plan was to hike the Jacks Knob Trail from Jacks Gap to Chattahoochee Gap. After seeing the Chattahoochee Spring, I would hike the Appalachian Trail from Chattahoochee Gap to Red Clay Gap. This is where I would pick up an unofficial side trail north into the Joel Creek valley, visiting Joel Creek Falls and Gurley Creek Falls. I would return to Jacks Gap by walking along Route 180.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 434.5 Miles