Tray Mountain Wilderness: Waterfalls of Left Fork of Soquee River and Wolfpen Branch, Helen, Georgia
The southeast quadrant of the Tray Mountain Wilderness is home to the headwaters of the Soquee River. Numerous streams join to form the West, Middle, and East Prongs of the Left Fork of the Soquee River, and it is likely that all of the streams have undocumented waterfalls. The grandest of them all is the middle waterfall on the Left Fork: a powerful and remote multi-tier 75-foot waterfall with surprisingly easy access. On the hike to this waterfall, you will also visit the smaller but beautiful lower waterfall and have the options of visiting bonus waterfalls, such as Wolfpen Branch Falls and the upper waterfall on the Left Fork of the Soquee River. This hike occurred on Saturday, April 8th, 2017. My plan was to scout out the easiest route to the biggest waterfall on the Left Fork of Soquee River, described below.
The Tray Mountain Wilderness is perhaps the least-explored wilderness area in Georgia. The focal point of the wilderness is Tray Mountain, which is one of the highest mountains in Georgia, and the section of the Appalachian Trail that passes over Tray Mountain. South and east of Tray Mountain, however, lies a remote area that has largely been unexplored: the Left Fork Soquee River watershed, which is home to numerous waterfalls. On the south side of the watershed stands Chimney Mountain, a lower peak that has several cliffs with great views but is overshadowed by the taller Tray Mountain only a few miles away. The hike to Chimney Mountain follows an unofficial trail that leads to a panoramic vista that faces Mount Yonah and the Georgia Piedmont. This hike occurred on Saturday, December 10th, 2016. My plan was to hike the unofficial path to Chimney Mountain out and back.
Chattahoochee National Forest: Andrews Cove Trail, Rocky Mountain Loop, and Appalachian Trail from Indian Grave Gap to Tray Mountain, Helen, Georgia
Rocky Mountain and Tray Mountain are two rocky peaks with impessive views on the Appalachian Trail in north Georgia near Helen. Tray Mountain is also the seventh-highest mountain in Georgia. Other than the Appalachian Trail, a couple of additional trails are used to access the area. The Rocky Mountain Trail bends around the northern side of Rocky Mountain, which serves as a bypass for the rocky summit area of Rocky Mountain as well creates a popular loop hike. The Andrews Cove Trail begins nearly two thousand feet below the summit of Rocky Mountain and ascends through a lush mountain cove past several small tumbling streams before joining the Appalachian Trail. On this hike, you will first ascend along the Andrews Cove Trail to the Appalachian Trail, before hiking the Rocky Mountain Loop past the great views from the namesake peak, and finishing with an outing along the AT to the summit of Tray Mountain, where more views await. This hike occurred on Saturday, September 10th, 2016. My plan was to hike the Andrews Cove Trail to the Appalachian Trail at Indian Grave Gap. From there, I would hike the Rocky Mountain Loop clockwise, and then, I would hike the Appalachian Trail out and back to the summit of Tray Mountain as well as locate a little-known vista on the mountain's east side. I would finish by retracing my steps along the Andrews Cove Trail.
One of the most remote sections of Georgia's Appalachian Trail lies in Tray Mountain Wilderness. Are you ready for a rollercoaster ride? You better be if you're planning to do this hike. From the Moccasin Creek watershed, you will traverse eight, yes eight, mountains before finally reaching Tray Mountain and its excellent viewpoint. During most of this hike, you're going to feel like you're really out there in the wilderness - even the road leading to the trailhead looks like it. This hike occurred on Saturday, December 27th, 2014. My plan was to start this hike at the small trailhead at the end of Wildcat Creek Road. I would follow the old, gated section of Wildcat Creek Road to Addis Gap on the Appalachian Trail. From there, I would turn left onto the AT and follow it to Tray Mountain. I would return the same way.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 434.5 Miles