Explore the most popular views 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.

I feel like it should be rated Hard instead of Moderate! Lots of fun!

Our 2nd time hiking Jacks River in, and like last time the river crossings can get very slippery on the rocks with many crossings containing a moderately heavy current. We set up camp where Jacks River and Penitentiary Branch trails met, and took Jacks River Trail a little further all the way to the falls.

First time taking Penitentiary Branch Trail out and it was rough the next morning as it’s mostly incline. Saw bear droppings but luckily no bears! Lots of horse droppings on both trails.

Be mindful of nature and pick up after yourself if camping! Saw lots of plastic bottles, cans, and wrappers. :(

~19 miles total

It is completely overgrown! Not knowing all the other trails were closed we decided to checkout Horseshoe bend only to find that the majority of the trail is thorns. When we were finished her clothes were completely destroyed and my legs were scratched raw. We had planned to hike Beech Bottom which is a shorts/leggings friendly trail but I wouldn't even hike this trail with my boots and thickest pants. You can't take more than a step before having to liberate yourself from a bush which makes for a physically and mentally exhausting hike.

Trail was good even with all the blow downs from past storms. The trail crews hadn’t made it all the way down Jacks River Trail so if you’re not confident in your ability to spot a trail when it’s not clearly marked I’d suggest maybe avoiding this one alone. The river wasn’t high at most thigh deep in some spots and I’m only 5’9. Overall great overnight trip and will repeat in the future.

This was a short hike with a bushwhack to the summit of Cowpen Mountain and back. Long forest/service road drive to the trailhead at Three Forks Mountain. Still smells like fire in this area of the woods. Also, the bow hunters are out so be careful! I hiked East Cowpen Trail to the backside (north) of Cowpen Mtn where the ridge line comes down to the trail. At that point I turned back south and bushwhacked the ridge to the summit. Encountered only briers which were easy enough to go around or through. Pile of rocks is all there is to the summit. No views. From there I headed almost due East back to the trail and from there to the trailhead.

I do not recommend this trail. The trail conditions were poor, views where blocked by overgrowth, and dead standing trees and no blaze make this a dangerous track. My 12yr old daughter did complete it with us, but I highly don't recommend it for kids less than 4ft, because the overgrowth is that high.

Too many bugs and giant spiders in your face. Paths over grown. Went a mile in and turned around, couldn’t take it anymore.

Significant storm damage has portions of these trails closed. On 8/11/18- 40+ volunteers cleared 8 miles of trails, this being a wilderness area means we can only use hand tools (crosscut saws and sling blades etc). Still some sections are closed due to damage from flooding. Reading below there is a misconception that forest service personal maintain these trails, the FS has only a few trail techs that cover large swaths of forest so they rely heavily on volunteer organizations to keep the trails marked and clear. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact their local ranger station or a local trail maintenance group, in this case Kevin Vasilinda from the FS teamed up with members of the Benton Mackaye Trail Association, Southern Appalachian backcountry Horsemen and the Conasauga trail volunteers to clear a lot of downed trees.

hiking
2 months ago

Great strenuous workout with sections of steep terrain. If you’re heading to Jack River Falls by way of this trail make sure to start your hike early.

Lots of downed trees makes the trail a bear to complete. Jack's River Falls was almost impossible to get to but fun nonetheless

hiking
2 months ago

Does anyone know the Hickory Ridge Trail is is still maintained? We looked desperately for it this weekend and never saw a signpost. We found what appeared to be an old trail or roadbed but it was hopelessly overgrown.

Super cool trail, but we went the day after a storm and, due to down trees, could not complete. Great wildlife spotting! Saw a bear in the water, a wild turkey and a beaver! Butterfly central at the Hickory Ridge campsites.

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!

Overall, a great hike. Walking up Panther Creek right below the falls can be slippery and easy to lose site of the trail itself. The road leading to 3 Forks parking can be quite muddy after rainfall so plan ahead.

trail running
5 months ago

This was an absolutely beautiful, remote trail run in the Cohuttas. Be mindful and study a map before you do it, as the trail isn’t very well marked, but so long as you study a map and know which direction the trails heading in, you’ll be fine! Pictures don’t do this gem justice.

Fantastic trail. The river crossings were cold but great. There’s still a lot of downed trees from the fire, but moved as many as we could. The turn off from jacks river was hard to spot because of a downed tree and the sharp ascent, but we thoroughly enjoyed this trail. I think the whole loop is closer to 18 miles, but not certain. There’s also very little water on the ridge trails, so take advantage on the river and get what you’ll need.

Challenging. Took rough ridge to jacks to rice camp to cowpen. Can camp before upper falls river crossing and after lower falls crossing. Yellow sign marks no camp zone. A lot of burn damage/downed trees. There is some water on cowpen, at the stream shown before cowpen connects with hickory ridge, but it’s a steep scramble down to collect.

backpacking
6 months ago

Do not do the route listed by all trails!!!!!!! Do the loop from hickory ridge around to rough ridge. If you try to take horseshoe bend the trail just ends half mile before jacks river. I ended up bushwhacking down a 50 degree slope to get down to the river to my campsite. The forest fire really messed this area up. No cell service anywhere. Trekking poles are a must if you are backpacking. The forest rangers will not do anything for you. They are useless. No good water on all of the east cowpen side. Plus half of east cowpen trail is a dirt road. I was disappointed. Jacks river was beautiful. I repeat do not do the loop listed by all trails!!!!!!!!! Take hickory ridge to rough ridge loop. It is shorter but way less problems. Plus shorter distances to get to cleaner water. Only cell service is from the three forks trailhead to about 3 miles down the ridge.

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.

backpacking
Monday, October 02, 2017

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.

backpacking
Sunday, September 24, 2017

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!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

About a month ago I hiked from Three Forks to the falls on a rescue mission for a hiker in distress. This was my first hike to the falls and have to agree with Cory, I would'nt bring small kids. This is a tough section of trail, at least from the falls back to Three Forks. Seen some wildlife including an approx 3' timber rattler.

backpacking
Friday, August 25, 2017

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!

backpacking
Sunday, July 02, 2017

Started at the bottom of Panther Creek where in flows into the Conasauga river. The trail follows the north side of the creek and then crosses over to the south. Got lost and backtracked and bushwhacked back up the north side of the creek until I crossed back over to the south. Found the trail again on the south side followed it and crossed over to the north then up severely rocky and tricky trail. Continue hugging the creek until you reach some gigantic boulders and follow the little goat path to the top of the falls. Awesome sunset vista but extremely poor trail condition. Definitely not kid friendly. Bring your map and compass. Good luck!

camping
Tuesday, June 06, 2017

I would have rated this trail 5 stars but you couldn't use much of it. it has not been cleaned up since the fires last year. there were trees down all over the trails. we had to go over, under and around constantly. also the trails are not blazed at all so it is very easy to miss a turn or lose the trail with all the trees down.

the trails were so bad we could not complete the loop and had to come back out on the same path. if it were cleaned up it would have been a great hike and camping experience.

hiking
Sunday, May 21, 2017

Very long trail with a few tough spots. Outside of the tough areas thw rest of the traul is very easy. Be sure to bring plenty of water, treking poles and snacks. Very little wind reachs the trail so the it gets hot very quickly. Good hike but prefer a stronger pay off for the effort.

backpacking
Sunday, April 09, 2017

Amazing hike and an even better payoff at the end when you reach the falls. If you live in Georgia and enjoy hiking, this is must do either as a day hike or packing in for the weekend.

hiking
Monday, February 20, 2017

Very strenuous IMO, can be a tough trail that twists almost the entire duration of the hike

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