Duncan Ridge Trail is a 36.3 mile out and back trail located near Suches, Georgia that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.
Directions from Dahlonega: Take US 19 and 129 south from Blairsville for 9.5 miles. Turn right (west) onto GA Hwy. 180 and go 3 miles to Wolfpen Gap. The trail crosses GA Hwy. 180 in the gap. The trail can also be reached in Mulky Gap by Forest Service Road 4, Mulky Gap Road.
i completed the duncan ridge trail from wolfpen gap to slaughter gap then connected with the AT up to blood mountain. the trail is brutally steep for the climb to 4000 feet then levels off as it passes over an unnamed knob and the north slope of slaughter mountain. after that the trail was overgrown and narrow for the descent to slaughter gap. i met a young trail runner there who came up the coosa trail. we proceeded to the AT and finally blood mountain. it was sunny and warm on the summit rocks so i did not stay long. the return trip was tough and i recommend hiking poles. i enjoyed the remote silence of the duncan ridge trail as opposed to the crowd that one invariably encounters on blood mountain. total distance was 6.88 miles in 4.2 hours.
My daughter, her dog, and I did part of this trail in late March 2015, and then completed it in early April 2016. In 2015, we started at Neels Gap and hiked the AT over Blood Mtn. to the start of the Duncan Ridge Trail (DRT), and then followed the DRT past its intersection with the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT), ending at the parking area near the Taccoa River suspension bridge. In 2016, we resumed our hike at the Taccoa River suspension bridge and followed the DRT to its terminus at the AT at Long Creek Falls.
The section of the DRT between the AT at Blood Mtn. and the intersection with the BMT was very tough. The trail went straight and down the peaks, with few switchbacks. Water was also a concern, as the information on this trail is almost non-existent. However, there were some springs in the gaps we passed through, and the rough side "trails" to these were noted on the DRT by blue diamond shape signs with "W" on them. The side trails themselves were usually marked with blue survey flagging. So water was available. But the uncertainty of where the next water would be was the biggest concern. But we did OK. On the section we did in 2015, we averaged only about 7 miles per day over a 4 day period.
The section between the intersection with the BMT and the terminus at the AT was a lot easier and we were able to make much better time. There was one spring not far from the intersection with the BMT, and then water at the trail crossings of the Little Skeenah Creek (GA Hwy 60) and the Taccoa River. But not anything in between. There was no water between the Taccoa River and Long Creek.
There are very few hikers using this trail, so if one enjoys remoteness and a challenge, this is the trail for you. That is why I am rating it as a "4". But while I am glad I did this trail, I doubt I will do it again!
Trail is primarily ups and downs like a roller coaster. Few water sources during dry seasons.