James E. Edmond Trail is a 8.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Clayton, GA that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
So I have done lots of research looking for the most challenging day hike in GA. The sights I visited say one of two trails James E. Edmund or Arkaquah trail. Now having hiked them both I have say I think Arkaquah trail to the top of Brasstown Bald was a bit harder and defiantly more scenery. James E. Edmund was defiantly not easy though. Mostly a lot of up hill in the woods but I agree with the previous posts of if you want stunning views go somewhere else. This one is best for bragging rights. I did the 8.3 miles in just under 3 hours and I'm doing this review 3 days later I am still sore. Bring water there are no water pints along the trail and it is generally easy to follow I forgot my map and still made it alright.
If you are up for a 9.6 mile (my GPS measurement) loop trail with just one overlook and very small water features, with 1400 feet of elevation gain, this is a good hike. It starts out going down hill, goes up about 600 feet, then goes back down, then goes up about 800 to end the trail, which is the opposite of ideal. The trail was well worn making it easy to follow despite the poor signage. Marking it as East and West Fork on a loop was unnecessarily confusing. The view at the top was only decent considering the area and the other hikes within an hour. We completed it in 4 hours total with stops, and saw 2 people hiking it about halfway through. I rate it highly but probably will not be back to hike it again as there are so many other better hikes.
Very challenging trail, but well worth it! For the most part, the trail markers are visible but there are a few forks along the way. Just to make your life easier, grab a map from the visitor center before you start the hike so you can follow where you are on the trail. The terrain makes for a strenuous hike most of the way but there are several bridges, roads, and even a creek you will pass over. My friend and I slid down one of the bigger waterfalls - nice way to keep cool. :) About halfway through the hike, we stopped at Lookoff Mountain overlook and it was breathtaking, as you can see a full mountain range. We took the East fork up and the West fork back - listen to others who say to do the opposite!! Your legs will thank you. The last mile to 2 miles I could not wait to get back to my car. We only passed 2 people on the entire trail so it seems to be very low traffic. It may have hurt, but it was worth it!
Very nice trail at blackjack state park. 8.5 or so if you add in the lake loop, which I don't know why you wouldn't. 2000ft total ascent with some nice views along the way and some running water as well.
I love this state park. It sits at about 3500ft so is quite a bit cooler than most places. Clayton is nice and Franklin and Highlands are about 45 minutes away. Great hiking is also around outside the park with the Bertram and several solid day hikes less than a half hour away. The great part about this area is it is pretty remote and you can find hikes where you won't pass a single person.
Park has tent camping and is well maintained.
Just experienced this invigorating hike yesterday. This was truly an adventure. It encompasses everything that you would want in a hike. Mountain summit, valleys, waterfalls, Forrest canopy, rushing creeks. The topography was amazing. It had been raining previous to our hike and I would recommend wearing appropriate hiking boots and using hiking sticks for this trail. Since the rain made the trail more difficult I'm not sure if we could have traversed it safely without these items. We took the advice of precious hikers and went West first. This was a great decision as they described, because it's best to do the harder part first when your still fresh on the hike. My greatest criticism is the trail blaze; they need to remark the trail - at times it was difficult to ascertain if we were still on it or not since it's a weathered trail. Also, I would recommend this hike for late fall or early spring (before things bloom). The trail is narrow and if the brush had been in full bloom it would've been more difficult and more dangerous to navigate (snakes, poison oak, etc). Other than that, enjoy the adventure! My pedometer measured that we hiked 22,508 steps so you will definitely get some cardio done!
This is an excellent trail. We are seasoned hikers and would rate the trail as difficult. We enjoyed many aspects of the trail, which included wonderful sweeping vistas, several excellent rushing water views and superb trails that occasionally had unique terrain to navigate. We followed some previous advice from other hikers to go out on the West Bank and return on the East Bank. This is good advice. It allows you to navigate what we considered slightly more difficult terrain while fresh on the outbound trek and enjoy less vigorous terrain during the return. If there were any negatives to report, we might just add that there isn't good signage at the intersection of the approach trail with the West & East bank trails. Otherwise, the entire trail is well-marked with orange painted blazes on the trees. We highly recommended this trail. It took us approximately 3.5 hours actual hiking time.
I really enjoyed this trail. It had a little bit of everything. There was a great view from the top, some creek crossings, some steep climbs, and some relaxing strolls through the tunnels of trees. I got to this trail just as the mountain laurel was waning. I bet it would be awesome in its prime. I recommend going on the west branch and working your way to the east branch. It takes you right up to the scenic overlook. This is a great hike and a bit of a work out.
This trail is rated difficult to strenuous, and it certainly delivers on that promise. The trail provides some stream crossings, so water-resistant shoes are recommended. I completed the trail in a pair of Nike tennis shoes, mainly because I felt confident enough to do it without boots. Those who feel the same should be fine in tennis shoes.
From the trailhead, I would recommend taking the west fork to the summit, and the east fork back. (It seemed that) this made the hike easier, as much of the east fork was downhill on our way back. We stopped for about 45 minutes at the top (we ate lunch) and completed the hike in about five hours with that stop.
Other reviews mentioned some overgrown plants on the trail, however I did not encounter this problem. Shorts are ok.
Also - keep in mind conditions may change - the stream water is consumable.
Great trail with a beautiful vista at look-off mtn. Well-marked & easy to follow trail but the reviews are correct-the return hike is challenging-lots of climbing & slippery bc of the rainfall.
loved this trail. moderate difficulty. well laid trail with regular marking along the way. Nice relaxing view at the top. the walk around the lake near the west fork was pretty good as well. Decent elevation gain of 2.1K ft.
Overall, pretty good trail and totally worth spending time.
7.2 miles loop + ~1 mile around the lake = ~ 8.3 miles at 2100 - 2200 ft elevation gain.
I had a great time on this trail. The trail was not busy at all, maybe because it was early on a Wednesday morning. Very peaceful. There are lots of small waterfalls and moving streams along the trail. I took lots of pictures of cool mushrooms. I set up my ENO hammock when I reached the summit. A saw a few NON-venomous snakes and a group of wild turkeys, which was pretty awesome. The hike was much tougher and steeper on the way back. Overall it wasn't too bad and I had a lot of fun. A few parts of the hike are narrow, so I would recommend pants (although I did it with shorts and I was fine) I would definitely recommend this to any hiker in decent shape. There are also some awesome drive up look outs around the park!
2nd time doing this trail, also did it last October. It is a difficult hike at times (which shouldn't be a surprise, since it's marked 'moderate to strenuous') but has some good pay-offs with a gorgeous overlook at Look-off Mountain (look for the sign pointing in the direction for 0.25 mile path off of the main loop). Great spot for a picnic, if you don't mind possibility of sharing the vista with other hikers. There are parts of the trail that are pretty overgrown, so I would highly recommend wearing pants if you are going this summer.
Warning to those allergic to yellow jacket stings...we encountered many of these today! About every couple we passed also received a few stings from those jerk yellow jackets. We encountered them at about mile 2.5 (going the east fork direction) and mile 4 (rough estimates here..). Be prepared. Not a bad idea to bring benadryl along if you are not sure if you are allergic.
I think this hike is pretty easily marked (orange blazes) so I'm not sure where people have gotten confused before about where the trail is.
I hiked with my dog last October on this trail and he had an absolute blast and was successfully worn out when we got home. I don't like to hike much with my dog in Georgia summers anyway, but I definitely would not recommend dogs on this hike right now. Too overgrown and those damn yellow jackets.
Bring $5 for the self-pay parking lot.
This was a great backpacking trail on which to start my 11 year old son. We followed the trail, as marked (counter-clockwise), and camped the first night, after driving up in the mid-afternoon, at the Fern Grove campsite (1 mile in). It was a nice campsite, with a fast moving stream at the campsite entrance, where we were able to fill water bottles for the hike up to the next campsite.
We camped at the Laurel Ridge campsite (3.5 mile mark on the trail), just past the overlook on Saturday night, and had a few spotty showers, but nothing of issue. We used all but one water bottle that night, and hiked down to the lake, where we refilled a couple of bottles for the hike out.
The last day of the hike was a 3.5 mile walk, beginning with a 1100 foot descent in the first mile, and then 1000 foot ascent in the last 1.5 miles back to the truck. Upon leaving, we stopped by the Universal Joint for burgers on the way home.
The trail was a great introductory backpacking trail for my son, as we were able to break the trek into a beginning distance, and sequence up each day, making it a bit more challenging until we got back to the truck. The campsites had to be reserved, ensuring that we'd have a spot to camp each night, and each site was well-maintained. The only struggle was the number of down trees on the trail, making us scramble under and climb over many along the route. There were plenty of sights, including the overlook, fast moving streams, a mountain lake, and a great waterfall along the trail. It provided a good teaching opportunity regarding one of the principles of Leave no Trace (stick to the trail) with real scenarios.
My son was adequately impressed with the experience, as a whole, asking how soon we could bring his Troop Patrol (5 Scouts/ 3 leaders) back to the trail...
This was grueling. I am a very experienced hiker and this hike almost had me whining for my Jeep by the end! The last 1.2 miles back to the trail head is a relentless ascent straight up. Total elevation change over 3000 feet I believe. Likely a mistake to complete this in July. I am proud that I managed to avoid the poison ivy. Very overgrown during the time of year that we went. Avoid shorts in the summer. It has a little bit of everything, streams, a few small waterfalls, wildflowers, and a decent payoff vista from Lookoff mountain at the end of the loop. I only say decent because it offer a view of a developed area with some factories in your field of view which was not really what I was expecting. I uploaded lots of photos.....
One of the most proudest moments of my adventure life was to complete this hike! The view from the top is breath taking. Take enough water or water tablets to treat water, take emergency camp gear just in case, wear proper shoe, hiking sticks important for this trail, down hill is tough on feet! I did not camp, but nice camp spots near the top which I plan on doing this when I have some more hiking on my legs so I can hike with larger pack. Great for dogs.