backpacking
blowdown
over grown
scramble
12 days ago

Definitely expect wilderness with this trail. A friend and I planned to spend 3 days and 2 nights to complete this loop in early May 2020, but we had to cut it short due to inclement weather. We started at the south trailhead of East Cowpen near Three Forks Mountain. We passed a campsite at the junction of Panther Creek trail and East Cowpen. From that point on the trail was through thick thorny new growth and the occasional downed tree. I would recommend wearing pants to protect your legs. The next campsite was at the junction of East Cowpen and Hickory Ridge trail. East Cowpen becomes very difficult after a half mile or so. There are many downed trees from there all the way to the Hickory Creek trail junction. Expect to climb over, around, and under fallen trees for about two miles. The section of East Cowpen between Rice Camp trail and the Horseshoe Bend is a gravel road which was a welcomed sight after navigating through the fallen trees. There are a few campsites tucked away where East Cowpen and Rice Camp cross. We didn’t find any suitable sites to camp on Horseshoe Bend. We ended up camping where Horseshoe Bend meets up with Jacks River trail. There were stone fire rings at each of the campsites we came across. We tried to ford Jacks River the next morning, but it had rained the night before and the water was too high and fast. It looked like something you’d go white water rafting on. So, we turned around and headed back to the car. We decided not to stay another night because our sleeping bags got wet from the storm and the temperatures at night were in the 40s. Water wasn’t too hard to find. The other reviews explained where to find it pretty well. All in all it was a fun trip. Very challenging physically. We ended up only seeing 3 other people the entire time we were on the trail. I hope this helps!

Does anyone know if this trail is still open given COVID-19? Would love to do some camping along it if the weather holds up.

hiking
blowdown
over grown
21 days ago

I did the Rice camp trail portion this weekend. There is a lot of blowdown on this trail making it very slow and difficult to travel. Some sections were so over grown it was difficult to find. If traveling this trail be sure to take a map in addition to GPS if using one.

backpacking
blowdown
off trail
over grown
scramble
23 days ago

First and foremost I’d like to mention that the directions given by Alltrails to the trailhead parking are a little misleading and should provide a little more information. As for the directions, the easiest way to put it: Once you are on Old Hwy 2 just keep going until it deadends. The parking lot is at the end of the road. You must drive through two low water crossings in your vehicle. I have a 2012 Ford Escape with about 9 inches of ground clearance and the water was at the bottom of my doors when I crossed them. As for the loop itself, I hope you are prepared to spend the majority of the time climbing over or under trees(see pictures). My girlfriend and I decided to go counter-clockwise. I would say the first 1/3rd of the trail was enjoyable and the rest was an obstacle course. A few spots of Hickory Ridge were the same with the addition of lost trail due to so many large trees covering the trail. Jacks River was a great trail the falls are amazing to see. Rice Camp was only a challenge due to the trees over the trail. I truly cannot express enough how many trees are across the trail. If you are planning this trip please plan for extra time to climb over, around, and under trees. I would never want a trail to be like a paved walking path but this loop was mostly unfun. I will say I did spend time cutting away a lot of limbs and briars to try to make the trail a little more enjoyable for the next person.

hiking
blowdown
over grown
scramble
23 days ago

From Three Forks lot went down Rough Ridge to Jacks River, camped, then up and out via Cowpen. Cowpen is nice. Rough Ridge is terrible AVOID Rough Ridge...its unmaintained and full of blow downs. Sometimes you wonder if you are doing more climbing than hiking! Plus no good views or vistas. Life's too short to deal with than kind of bushwacking and climbing. Legs are all scraped up

hiking
28 days ago

the falls are beautiful but its definitely a tough hike out and there are zero markers. the trail gets a little hard to follow near the end. I would recommend this hike once

Most of the trail is flat and runs atop a ridge line. Limited views but when they do open up the views are worth the hike and are spectacular.

hiking
blowdown
scramble
1 month ago

Exciting hike that showcases many of North Georgia's famous features. Mountain ranges as far as you can see along with waterfalls and huge rock faces. Be prepared to cross Jacks River twice at approximately thigh high levels. * Note many blown down trees along the trails that you will need to hike over, under, and around. * * This trail does not have good trail markings but the path is pretty clear. Be aware of the trail changing course at Hickory Ridge and East Cowpen. *

hiking
blowdown
1 month ago

The first mile is fairly flat and well maintained then we had to start jumping over under fallen trees, then though the branches of the trees then following survey tape markers. Legs got scraped up. Made camp at Jacks River. Camp site and weather were perfect.

hiking
muddy
over grown
3 months ago

Easy trail but a bit overgrown. I listed it as muddy but to be fair we have received a lot of rain lately. Was easy enough for me and my 12 and 6 year old but are some thorns on the trail.

backpacking
blowdown
3 months ago

hiking
off trail
over grown
6 months ago

Trust the other reviewers because my group didn’t and we low key paid for it. The trail is covered with fallen trees, so you’re basically climbing over trees and going through thorns and all sorts of other barriers.

no shade
off trail
over grown
rocky
washed out
6 months ago

most difficult trail I've ever hiked. trail is overgrown with thorns due to a recent fire killing off all the top growth, so no shelter from the sun either. went with a group whose hands and legs were shreaded by thorns by the end of this trip. There are also many downed trees making the trail difficult to navigate. Coming back from the falls along fought ridge trail, there is no obvious water source and you'll be going all uphill until the last mile or so. Would not hike this trail again.

hiking
blowdown
over grown
7 months ago

Went backpacking with a buddy starting at East Cowpen and headed onto Rough Ridge. This trail is both over grown and fairly untraveled, and seems to completely disappear at times, but it is absolutely gorgeous. Shoutout to my dude Clinton “The Machine” Tigges trekking it, we totally passed you. Made it past the falls on Jack’s River and camped just before the Horseshoe exchange. In the morning, we couldn’t find the intersection and wound up hiking about a mile up Jack’s. Gave up and decided to just hike back the way we came. Rough Ridge is ROUGH the uphill way, especially running into all the briers. Saw a bear and a wild boar on the way back, but both took off when they spotted us. Overall, beautiful hike with plenty of wildlife, but definitely go with pants on this one!

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