Explore the most popular river trails near Epworth with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

My first backpacking trip ever was on this trail around 1994, and my last time on this trail was 1997- I was hooked on backpacking because of this trail and the Cohuttas in general. 20 years later I took my 14 and 12 yo sons on this trail trying to recreate the wonder. No joy. Trail had changed and was unrecognizable. Overgrown and and unkept. Further, I discovered you could no longer camp between beech bottom and jacks river falls. This trip, other than the family bonding, was unpleasant. We left early to head to Red River Gorge.

We didn’t do the full hike because there were so many downed trees and a lack of trail marking that it was very difficult to follow the trail in some places. Because of this I would rated as a challenging hike rather than a moderate hike. We did not see any bears. Wildflowers were starting to bloom. I found that the second big River Crossing was super difficult- even with my hiking poles.(I’m pretty short and the river was high and was flowing very fast.). I’ll do this again in the fall when the water is lower and I will take a friend who has hiked it numerous times. I wish the forest service would remark the trail!

Amazing!!!! My first backpacking trip! We were a group of 10 which included experienced hikers that have done this trail many times and newbies like me. We started in the afternoon on Saturday, camped, hiked to the falls Sunday, camped, then hiked out Sunday morning.
We started at the Jack's River Western Trailhead as marked on this map and made our way to Beech Bottom and the falls, but took the Beech Bottom Falls trail back out to a second car we had parked there so that it wasn't a true out and back trail as marked on here. A car was put there in case we had to bail out because of the storm forecasts. We just had a lot of rain (and quite a bit during the trip at night) so the river level was pretty high. Most crossings were very manageable but nearer to the falls, and if you were to continue east past Beech Bottom along the trail (which was our original plan) the river was past waist deep (I'm 5'5'') and moving quickly. We changed our plans and camped a bit past the falls then double backed the next day to take the Beech Bottom trail out once we experienced how deep the river crossings were becoming. I definitely recommend bringing hiking poles to stabilize yourself while crossing. We heard from other groups that came the opposite direction that some crossings were so deep they had to swim across with their packs.
The falls themselves were amazing and we did the cliff jump after watching a group demonstrate that they were safe!!
The trail wasn't as maintained as other State Parks and National Parks that I've been to -- lots of downed trees to climb over and some overgrown plants but I think that really added to the wilderness feel and it didn't slow us down. We saw one copperhead sunning itself at a campsite but that was the only wildlife encounter. Lots of beautiful scenery, mushrooms, and the river itself made for a wonderful trip.

The trail is rated moderate but I guess that is when the water is low. But be warned, this hike has numerous river crossings. The water was waist high in most of the places and a bit deeper in some others. We made it to the fifth camping spot and had to turn around because we could not cross at this point. The water was simply too deep and fast for us to manage with backpacks.That was about 1/3 of the way in or 2.5 miles. I imagine this is a much different trail when the water is low and easily crossed. At this time of year there were plenty of snakes, but this is a gorgeous area and the river is a beautiful hiking companion. The trailhead is accessible after a long drive on a bumpy dirt road with lots of potholes. The area needs some attention in general. Campsites, signs etc. are in bad shape. To this point, we met a couple before the first river crossing looking for Jacks Falls(?) They got their information off the Internet somewhere, obviously not very well communicated. Plan for it and this is a great hike.

camping
1 month ago

This is by far one of my favorite spots.
Been going for about 10 years now. Unfortunately though it is overly crowded and the trial has changed over the years.
over night stay highly recommended!
Always check the water at the swimming hole before jumping in from the cliff!!!
#leavenotrace

great overnight hike

Just got home from completing this one. Due to weather, we decided to do the river crossings first. Which meant we had to face an uphill penitentiary branch trail the next day. That was fairly strenuous.

Beautiful hike, and not overly difficult....moderate rating is accurate. The falls are amazing especially when frozen over. The forest road getting there is rough and potentially muddy. Drive a vehicle that’s not low to the ground. Four wheel drive is helpful.

Much easier than I thought it was gonna be! The rain held off and we had a great time...it was perfect!!

Great day hike. We didn’t plan for the length of the trail up to the falls, so our limited time put us having to leave before we were ready. Beautiful sounds of the flowing river greeted us each step. Lots of camping areas along the path.

Trail was great! We wore keens and didn’t have any issues, but couldn’t imagine this with Chacos(blisters) or hiking boots(removing and putting back on too often) in comparison. We made a 2 day trip out of it. Beginning and end are a bit faster moving b/c there aren’t a lot of crossings in the first 2 miles and the last mile or so. Had a few issues fining the trail but nothing worth panicking about. The trail is perfect for summer when you can stay cool as you hike.

Recommendations: 2 hiking sticks, keen water shoes, water filter to get fresh water

I parked at the Daily Gorge lot which I would recommend knowing that after taking Old HWY 2, once on the gravel road and you arrive at the for, take a hard right to get to the lot. Once at the lot, took Hemp to Penetentiary. A fairly good hike, though mostly down hill and I would say moderate. Make sure in the beginning to look out for some beautiful views. Once you arrive at Jack's River, shortly thereafter there is a large primitive campsite. I really enjoyed the hike, though instead of a loop chose to go back up Penetentiary (more difficult), Hemp and return to my car the following day. Only saw wild turkeys, but lots of beautiful wild flowers. Note that prior to Jack's River there were no streams or water sources.

Although not physically strenuous, this hike is challenging due to all the river crossings. If backpacking, be aware that you will be fording through depths that can reach your chest over slippery surfaces. Trekking poles are a necessity, or grab a hiking stick alongside the trail on your way up. Attempting to swap from shoes to water shoes is pointless as you will spend all your time swapping shoes. Take footwear that can get wet and take some abuse. If planning an over-nighter, there are plenty of campsites along the river to filter water. You could always camp closer to the beginning of the trail, then hike to the falls as a day hike, then back down to your camp for the night. As you get near the Falls, camping is prohibited. If you want an easier hike to Jack's River Falls, take the Beech Bottom Trail.

Took my boys (14 & 12) with me and finished in the hike in 2 days, We went over Father's Day weekend and had a blast. Truth be told, I think we may have been the only people on the trail that weekend. We saw absolutely nobody else the entire time. This trail is rated as MODERATE but it was a little on the challenging side - at least for us it was. The trail itself wasn't particularly arduous but it wasn't well marked either. For the most part though, the trail is readily apparent. Ac couple of good points to know...
1. The trail itself isn't terribly steep or difficult, but there were a LOT of downed trees across it.
2. You only need ONE water bottle per person. We hiked the loop EAST to WEST and there is no water until the river crossing/first campsite at the apex of the big loop at the North Eastern side of the trail. After that, you are almost always in contact with the Jacks River. Bring filtration and a bottle. That will do just fine.
3. Bears... They are out there and had one in our campsite the first night. It didn't do anything and left without incident. Neat see though. Definitely keep your food in a bear canister and away from the camp.
4. There is NO cell service if you are on Verizon. Not a big deal to me, but since I had my kids with me, it was a "daddy-level" concern. It might be smart to have an ACR or SPOT just in case.
5. It had been raining hard for the previous week and rained frequently on our trip. The river was UP and the crossings were averaging adult waist deep. The water is pleasantly cold and wonderfully clear. But the current was nothing to take lightly - especially with kids.
6. Trekking poles are awesome! They made river crossings a lot more pleasant (and safer for the kids) and they were also great for making sure snakes weren't under logs that we had to climb over to navigate the trail.
7. Temperatures dropped to the 60s at night with a breeze and rain. We slept in hammocks (Warbonnet Blackbirds) and lined the bottom with a closed cell foam pad. Sleeping clothes were shorts/shirt a camping pillow and woobie (military poncho liner). It was just fine - perhaps a little cool, but I'd pack the same way again.
8. Ticks. Lonestar ticks are everywhere. Treat your clothes with permethrin before you go. It will help. And wear a hat. Otherwise the bugs were fine. Perhaps it was a function of all the rain, but mosquitos and other flying pests weren't a major issue.

Beautiful, quiet, and lots of fun! I can't wait to return!

Great trail with beautiful river views and crossings. Perfect for dogs who love water.

backpacking
10 months ago

hiking
Monday, July 10, 2017

Cory mentioned the section of Hickory Creek Trail from Rice Camp Trail parking lot to the Conasauga River crossing. I hiked it today and cut and cleaned up until the North Fork of Thomas Creek. 4.3 miles in is well maintained as of today. Got tired and turned around. Ran into a couple of backpackers on their way back and they told me after Thomas Creek to the Conasauga River is not too bad. So this trail is good to go.

backpacking
Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Hiked this trail during a loop backpacking trip in the Cohuttas. The recent storm and drought impact is evidenced with innumerable blow downs making this a tough trek from Rice Camp Trail parking lot to the Conasauga river crossing. The trail can be difficult to follow and spot in some sections. Take a map and compass on this trail. Plenty of water and a few uphill ascents. Most of the earlier posts do not talk about this section. Good luck!

hiking
Saturday, July 01, 2017

We had some much fun! Started early from Dally Gap but somehow missed the trail to the main waterfall. Wishing that it had been better marked. Saw other amazing falls though. It poured on us all day which only made it more of an adventure for us. The river crossings were my favorite. I will definitely return!

This is my fave all time summer hike. Starting down river and hiking up to jack river falls and back in one day. 44 river crossings total, 7 miles there and back. Awesome hike and falls! Highly recommend this wet hike.

backpacking
Saturday, June 17, 2017

My favorite for a weekend backpacking trip. I love to take our dogs! If you start at the Jack's River terminus going up river in the Alaculsy Valley you will have 22 river crossings before you reach Jack's River Falls which is about 7 miles in, I believe. Then you have another 9 miles to Dally Gap. I want to say there are somewhere around 42 river crossings total and the water will be up to waist and chest deep in places. Also, the trail is not marked that well in some spots and you will have to cross the river and wade upstream to find it at times, especially at crossings 16 and 18. It makes for an even better adventure! There were several downed trees when we went last week, so be prepared to climb over and under and get wet. There are a lot of great camp sites and fishing/swimming holes as well. I LOVE this trail.

P.S. Take poles. They make the crossings much easier. Dry bags are a must. Also, after several hikes thru here my husband and I both opt for old tennis shoes. We wore Keens the first thru hike we did and mine fell apart, his ruined his feet for the trip. Boots are no good either. Just a friendly opinion:)

Beautiful river, gorgeous knolls, my kids 6 to 21 had a fantastic time. We swam in the river and hiked the trail. Its one if the most beautiful trails that i have seen in a long time.

hiking
Monday, June 12, 2017

Folks, I have a question. I see two different maps for Jacks River Falls trail. One is mentioned here at alltrails.com, the other one is mentioned at https://www.atlantatrails.com/hiking-trails/hiking-jacks-river-falls-trail-splashing-through-the-cohutta-wilderness/
They both mention crossing river 21 times but completely different trails. Can someone please help?

backpacking
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ok so WOW! We did not expect to have this much fun on this hike. As we prepared for this trip we assumed the river crossings would be nothing more than puddle jumping but we were wrong. We started at the Dally Gap. Our trip was in the last weekend of March and the river was ROARING. Apparently the river is a lot rougher in the spring. Every river crossing brought us to at minimum waste deep water. Many times we were chest deep and even having to swim. The rocks were very slippery and the current was very strong. We were 4 grown, strong men who love to hike and we were struggling at times. A few of the crossings were fairly dangerous, but it was a blast! We crossed the river 21 times before settling into camp just before the 22nd (and final) river crossing before the waterfall. A total of 6.5-7 miles the first day. The next day we originally planned to go back the same way but none of us wanted to venture back into the cold water 21 more times! Haha. Instead we headed to the falls and spent sometime there. We hiked the few miles up beech bottom trail to the parking area where we set off down the road, eventually hitch hiking back to our truck. We had a long journey back home and decided it be better to get a head start.

Overall we would have loved to hike the entire river but we just didn't have the time. I would highly recommend venturing this trail in the spring. It's not for the faint of heart and def not for children. Pack your stuff in drybags or it will certainly get wet!

I worked with the Southeast Conservation Corps here, it is one of many trails that I have worked on and it is by far one of the best.

camping
Monday, February 13, 2017

Lots of river crossings which I really loved about the trail, definitely worth the hike to the waterfall

such a fun hike. not for scrubs that don't know how to cross rivers following a trail.

Monday, December 26, 2016

nothing spectacular. sure, South to North is easy, but I would rather hike south out of Jack's River on this trail than Hickory Ridge trail.

hiking
Friday, September 30, 2016

March 2016.
Had a unpleasant hike as I went here with a 50lb pack, on my way back from Jack rivers this trail seemed endless! I had ran out of water and there was little to no water on the trail. The trail was very quiet, there was not much to see on this trail. If traveling from the East Cowpen Trailhead from south to north towards jacks rivers, it is not a bad hike. But if traveling from north to south, rough ridge trail can be a little tricky to find because of the contrast and can be a steep climb. A few things i saw and heard were bear droppings on trail, turkey gobblers, some steep scenic-ish views, and Spring gap, a camp ground down in between the valley in the northern part of rough ridge.

hiking
Sunday, September 04, 2016

I would rate this moderate, not easy. Destination
Hike, not very scenic. Great swimming holes and camp grounds. After intersection with Jacks River Trail, follow towards the falls for .5 miles to find more sites besides the large group camp at the intersection. Saw a wild turkey, multiple salamanders and lots of froglets:) we were able to do this with 3 kids (ages 11, 10, and 5) but it was more difficult coming out because of the steep uphill from the river.

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