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Cohutta Wilderness Georgia. Need trail advice to Jacks River

Hello and I appreciate the use of this excellent forum!
I am planning a flyfishing trip to Jacks River in the Cahutta Wilderness and was wondering if anyone had any experience there?
I'm 59 and often fish/hike/camp up to 2 miles back in from the roads. I could quite probably handle a 4 mile each way hike without any problems.
I am interested in fishing Jacks River and want to have as much solitude as possible [I don't wish to hike in near the popular swimming falls :) ]
Any info would be appreciated. Like which trail, how long it is, how long it generally takes to hike to the river on it and how to get to where I park. :)

I'll see if I can find my maps if my memory proves to be bogus, but the route in from the TN side to Jacks River Falls is the shortest path to best parts of the river. It's also the path to where you'll find the most people but IIRC the people hang out at the falls and not much anywehere else. With school back in a mid week trip would almost guarnatee solitude. Hike either direction from the falls and you'll find better space. Be ready for river crossings soon & often. Remember that even though the Cohutta isn't very well known there's still plenty of people know that it's good fishing.
You can drive to the head of the Jacks River from the GA side and find a very nice campground but it's probably more of a hike than what you're looking for to get to good water. Be ready for 30+/- of gravel roads if you go to the head.

Be wary of the Jacks and the Conasuaga if you go there. The rivers are in very narrow valleys that flood quickly from storms, espeically storms upstream so camp higher than you'd think would be necessary and keep an eye & ear on the weather.

Never fished either but the Conasauga is much more relaxing than the Jacks. The Jacks get's pretty deep and current quick in places. Keep that in mind if you're wading solo.

Oh, & BTW, be sure to keep a clean camp and pack out your trash. Plenty of the people you'll see at the falls will be leaving piles of trash. a-holes.

Would that be the Beech Bottom Trail?
If so, I have read that it hits the Jacks River .06 miles above the falls, so I could venture further upstream for greater solitude?
As to my leaving no trace that i've been there, i'm a fanatic about that!
I don't want people around me when I back country fish and I don't want to see a sign that people have ever been there! If it's not wild, it will go out with me, even if I didn't bring it!

Beech bottom... that's it. You're going into one of the most beautiful areas that I know of in the GA/TN,NC area. Lot's of trails zig-zagging the area so when you do go upstream you'll find a trail intersection heading south. In fact if I remember corectly the Jacks trail crosses soon but I think there's trails on both sides of the river from the people fishing. Do go & see the falls; may not be anyone there and it's pretty amazing to see such a large fall out in the middle of nowhere.

On a side note, the Penetentiary Gap Trail which you may encounter going upstream is where I get a larege (1/8"+ x 1 3/4") sliver lodged in my shin. Straight in and broke off below the skin. Walking out wasn't too bad although I could feel it every time my foot moved up/down, but the 25 miles of bumpy gravel roads was the worst. Ellijay has a nice little hospital/ER.

Be safe.

Thanks! There are 25 miles of gravel roads to travel to get to the parking area for Beech Bottom? :)
Do you recall about how long it takes to hike to the river in general-assuming I remain splinter free? :)
Also, you mentioned your maps, what maps do you recommend?

Go to and Search for the USGS quad of Hemp Top in GA you'll get the center of the Cohutta Wilderness. Jacks River is at the top and the adjoining map to the North. I'd get a set of Hemp Top, (can't remember the other names right now) & the maps North, NE, East, SE, & S (this'll cover all of the Cohutta Wilderness area) and probably also the the NW to cover your drive into Beech Botttom Trail Head. You can cutomize the areson the map @ ATL area REIs might have the topos but my experience with them is the map inventory is hit or miss. That is of course if they still sell the maps. Thinking about it now, you probably ought to look at the map W of Hempt Top as well, I think the Jacks continues onto that one as well.

I've never been on the Beech Bottom Trail but judging by the size of the coolers I saw people bring in the summer months I doubt it's very difficult terrain. 2 miles I'd figure an hour from when I stopped the car and to being at the river which includes final check & load of the pack & gear. I think it may be less but YMMV depending on load & phys condition. Although I've never been to the Beech Bottom trailhead I'd be ready for plenty of gravel roads that are maintained fairly well but still bumpy. These Forest Service roads are maintained to the point for the FS to get equipment in if there was a forest fire or required rescue but they're not interstates. Considering the amount of people that get to the Falls from Beech Bottom trailhead I'd presume that the road is well maintained and maybe more black top than gravel. A small car would do OK on the roads I have in mind, but I'd prefer something a little bigger but that's just me.

If you're up for a longer hike from Jacks find Panther Creek Falls about dead center of the Cohutta. It's a stream with 75' fall over a cliff. Pretty cool after heavy rains. Take Cowpen Trail (great views in the Fall or color)south which follows a ridge that is very dry so safe after heavy rains to Panther Creek Falls Trail. Actually might be easier to get to from the south end but if you got time to burn...

Supposedly the Cohutta Wilderness & the adjoining Big Frog Wilderness in TN is the largest wilderness area East of the Mississippi River. I *know* you'll enjoy the scenery.

Thanks for all your help Adam G!
I'm using it!
I'll post some pictures and my story when I return!

Glad I can help. A trip report is *expected* but let's try not to advertise the Cohutta/Big Frog too much. Maybe we can change the name and talk in code a bit to throw off the one's following too closely.

You're venturing into my favorite stomping grounds next to the Tetons & I envy you a bit. Career change and new family/young kids have kept me focused on things other than backcountry exploring. Introducing them to the BC is a few years away but something I'm looking forward to.

Be safe.

OK I'll do just that!Thanks again!

Beech Bottom trail is the easiest hike to the river, but crowded, even this time of year. Rice Camp trail, which comes fromt he south and hits the river a couple miles down from the falls, is only slightly longer (about 2-3 hours) and almost deserted - but you have to drive through a small ford to get to the trailhead (I did it in my Honda Accord no problem).

If you want the least crowded fishing, stay upstream from the falls, or better yet, try the Conasauga River, at the south end of the wilderness -- park at Hickory Creek trailhead, walk in an hour to the river, and head upstream on the Conasauga River trail -- much better fishing, less crowded trail. And you can make a quick trip from Bray Field on the river up to Panther Creek Falls -- not as impressive as Jack's River Falls, but a lot more solitude.

December 4, 2020
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