John’s Mountain Trail – Chattahoochee National Forest

Trail:  John’s Mountain Trail – Walker County, Georgia – Chattahoochee National Forest

Directions:  Directions From Atlanta

General Information:

Terrain:  This trail starts off at the top of a ridgeline.  It follows it for about 1.8 miles then starts a slow descent to the convergence of three trails: Pinhoti, Keown Falls and the Johns Mountain Trail.  At this point the Johns Mountain Trail follows the Pinhoti for a steep one mile 400 foot increase in elevation.

Distance: Approximately a 3.5 mile loop.

Elevation Change: 540 Feet

Family Oriented: Probably the best part of this trail is the observation deck at the beginning of the trail.  If you have young kids or adults that are not in good shape, this trail is not for you.  But, I do recommend you driving to the top just for the view.  Otherwise, this is a nice ridgeline trail with a strenuous end.

Johns Mountain Trail - Observation DeckDogs Allowed: Because this is a part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, I assume that dogs are allowed.  I would advise checking with the local forest ranger before bringing your pet with you.  Your dog must be on a leash.  You must clean up after your animal.

Hiking Fees: No Fee.

About:  This trail is “off the beaten path” to say the least.  In order to get to it, you must take the Forest Service Road 208.  This is a two mile, gravel road.  It can be steep in areas and also slightly washed out.  I would think that a regular sedan would be able to make it to the top, but I would suggest a vehicle with high ground clearance.  Four/All wheel drive is not necessary.

Johns Mountain Trail - Sign PostUpon reaching the top, there is a nice parking area and the observation deck.  I will have to say that this is one of most spectacular unobstructed views that I have seen from any of the Georgia trails.  It is a pastoral scene with a church and fields with cows, as well as other smaller mountains.  The view alone is worth coming up for.

To find the trailhead, go in between the large rocks on the edge of the parking lot.  You will see a communication building.  The trail goes right behind it.

During the first mile and a half, the trail follows the ridgeline.  The trail is lined with beautiful stones.  There are numerous locations with large boulders on the side of the trail.

After the ridgeline section, the trail starts a gradual descent.  The rock formations disappear and it looks more like your typical Georgia hill area flora.  When you reach the low point of the trail, you will see a trail sign where three trails come together; the Pinhoti (meaning Turkey Home) trail – a 335 mile trail across Alabama and Georgia, the Keown Falls Trail and the John’s Mountain Trail.

Johns Mountain Trail - Keown fallsAt this point, if you go to the right, you will see an overlook deck.  This deck is currently in disrepair and you should not walk on it.  But, the Keown Falls Trail travels beside the deck.  You will reach a flight of stone steps built into the rock.  If you take these steps and then turn to the right at the bottom of them, you will see Keown Falls.  It is a cave type structure with the falls flowing over the edge.  The trail does go into the cave, you can stand behind the falls.  These are really wet water falls, so if there has not been any rain for a while, the falls may be just a trickle.  This was the case for our hike.

Going back up the staircase and to the signpost, the John’s Mountain Trail continues on for one more mile.  This part of the trail coincides with the Pinhoti Trail.  This last mile can be grueling.  You are gaining 400 feet in elevation in less than a mile.

Johns Mountain Trail BerriesThe Hike:  Like other trails, we knew we had to get up early and face a long drive to get to the trailhead.  We arrived at the parking lot at 8:30.  The gravel Forest Service Road was in good shape and we had no problem making it to the top in our SUV.

The parking lot was empty.  It was mid-September and the air was a comfortable 59 degrees.  Great hiking weather if you ask me.  There were some high clouds, but a lot of blue sky.  Stepping onto the Observation deck was great.  The view was extremely serene.  A wonderful place to just be.

We bathed in the beauty of the scenery for a few minutes and then headed down the trail.  The leaves had only barely started to change.  I figured that they would be at their peak of color in about six more weeks.  The trail is easy to follow.  The blazes were comprised of white and green rectangles.  The green were plastic and the white were paint marks.

We followed the ridgeline down to the trail post and then went down the Keown Falls Trail to see the falls.  Because it had not rained in over two weeks, the falls was a trickle at best.

We headed back up the staircase and onto the final demanding mile uphill.  The trail was hard, but it made for a good work out.

We made our way one more time to the observation deck to enjoy the view and then headed back home.

Johns Mountain Trail Pinhoti Trail BlazeTips:

  • The last mile of this trail is extremely steep and rises 400 feet in just one mile.  Be prepared.
  • The trail is well blazed, traveled and maintained.
  • The Forest Service Road 208 is a gravel road to the top of the mountain.  A regular sedan is not recommended.  A vehicle with better ground clearance would be a plus.
  • If you are going to enjoy the Keown Falls, then go a day or two after a heavy rain.

 

Hoping your next hike is Relaxing, Safe and Inspiring,

 

Russell

Cloudland Canyon State Park – Rising Fawn, Georgia

    Cloudland Canyon State ParkTrail:  Waterfalls Trail

    Directions:  From Atlanta, take I-75 North to exit 320, highway 136 west towards Lafayette.  Stay on highway 136 for approximately 47 miles.  Turn right onto Cloudland Canyon Park Road.

    General Information:

    Terrain:  The trail to the waterfalls from the parking lot is very steep and has multiple levels of staircases.    It is extremely strenuous.  There is a total of over 1200 steps.

    Distance: Approximately a two mile round trip.

    Family Oriented: This trail is great for older kids, 12 and above.  Younger kids will not be able to handle the amount of stairs. It is not suited for younger children.  Because the trail is steep and slippery in some locations, we do not advise that you carry any young children in a front or back pack.

    Waterfalls Trail - Cloudland CanyonDogs Allowed: Yes, must be on a leash.  You must clean up after your animal.

    Hiking Fees: Because this is a state park, there is a $5.00 fee that you can pay at the parking lot.  You can also purchase an annual state parking pass, which is good at all state parks.

    About:  This hike is quite a workout.  You may not realize it when you are going down into the canyon, but you have to climb all of those stairs to get back out.  But, it is well worth it.  These waterfalls are two of my favorites in the state.  They are elegant, simple and juxtaposed against huge boulders and old growth trees.

    The trail begins at the top of the canyon at the rim.  There is a spectacular overlook that takes the viewer’s sight down and out the mouth of the canyon.  The canyon walls are mostly forested, but large outcroppings of rock reveal themselves at different elevations.  The variation in colors from the deep green forest to the oranges and tans of the rock provides you with an awe inspiring scene.

    Also at the overlook, you are greeted with the sound of the waterfalls below.  They are mostly hidden from view because of the thick vegetation.

    This trail is wonderful to hike all year round, but it is spectacular during the fall with the leaves changing and in the spring, early summer with the local flora in bloom.

    Cloudland Canyon - Waterfalls TrailAs mentioned above, the terrain is very steep.  The Georgia state park service has created an amazing set of staircases to help you to the canyon floor.  There are numerous benches along the way, that you will utilize while ascending back up to the canyon rim.

    The trails are well marked and it is nearly impossible to get lost.  Just keep heading down.

    Many rocky overhangs adorn the trail.  Be careful if you have a pack.  Also, if they have had any rain recently, the trail will be wet and slippery.

    Cloudland Canyon may be hard to get to, but it is truly a jewel in the crown of the Georgia state park system.

    Waterfall two - Cloudland CanyonThe Hike:  We got up extremely early, knowing that we had a three hour drive ahead of us.  We wanted to be on the trail in the early morning, so it would be cool.  We arrived at around 8:45 and were greeted with about 60 degree temperatures.  It was mid-September.  Looking out at the overlook, we saw the sun touching the western rim of the canyon.

    After enjoying the view for a few minutes, we decided to head down to the canyon floor and the waterfalls.  Because we did arrive that early, we almost had the entire trail to ourselves.

    The stairs just kept on coming.  No sooner would we reach the bottom of one flight, just to be greeted by another set.  The stairs do hug the canyon wall.  There are beautiful mammoth boulders jutting out from the cliff face.

    The entire hike down was completely shaded.  This kept us and the surrounding area cool.

    We took the fork to go to the second waterfall first.  Arriving at the waterfall overlook, we were presented with a beautiful cascade of water falling over what looked like a 60 foot drop into a clear pool.  There was a viewing platform which we were constrained.  There are numerous signs in the park that state no climbing on rocks, swimming or wading.

    It was then time to climb part of the way back up to go to the first waterfall.  It was just a spectacular as the previous.  You are able to walk right up to the pool.  This waterfall appears to be a bit taller.

    Waterfall one - Cloudland CanyonAfter enjoying the sound of falling water and the solitude of the place, we started the climb back up to the top.  We found ourselves having to stop a few times to catch our breath before we moved on.

    These waterfalls are truly incredible.  They are the definition of a waterfall.  I highly recommend this hike to anyone.  They are not to be missed.

    There are other hikes in the park:  The west rim loop trail, 5 miles; Sitton’s Gulch Loop Trail, 6.5 miles; Long branch trail, 5.6 miles/one way; Two-mile backcountry loop trail, 2.5 miles round trip.

    Tips:

    • This is reverse of a normal mountain hike.  You start at the top and hike to the bottom.  Know your limits.
    • The trail is well blazed, traveled and maintained.
    • Camping areas as well as the parking lot fill up fast on the weekends.
    • This trail is a great alternative to hiking on ridge lines or mountain tops.  The falls are spectacular and the tree cover keeps you cool.

     

    Hoping your next hike is Relaxing, Safe and Inspiring,

     

    Russell

New Smokey Bear Mobile App

Smokey Bear is at it again.   The Ad council along with the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) and the USDA Forest Service has released a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring the iconic figure, Smokey the Bear.  These new ads provide information on preventing forest fires.

Not only that, but Smokey now has his very own mobile app.

“The free smart-phone app is designed to provide critical information about wildfire prevention, including a step-by-step guide to safely building and extinguishing campfires, as well as a map of current wildfires across America.”

You can watch the PSAs at SmokeyBear.com

You can also find him at your favorite social media site or download a free mobile app:

Even though he was created in 1944, he still states the same message, “Only you can prevent forest fires”.