GEORGIA BARTRAM TRAIL GROUP
 Martin Creek Falls , Bartram's Falling Creek 
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REVIEW OF THE GEORGIA BARTRAM TRAIL (First part of guide for GA BT)

The William Bartram Trail in Georgia is named for William Bartram (1739-1823) an American naturalist who explored several southern states and documented his explorations in a book first published in 1791 and still available [1]. This book is one of the most detailed descriptions of the southern landscape and Native Americans of this time period.Although the route of his travels is not known exactly, the Bartram Trail in the several states represents an attempt to furnish a similar wilderness experience in the general area he traveled.Occasionally the trail passes locations where Bartram visited, for example, Martin Creek Falls was called Falling Creek by Bartram [1].

The William Bartram Trail is a National Recreational Trail.Our trail guide for this trail is a detailed description of the Bartram Trail in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Rabun County Georgia.The trail is a 36.5 mi. trek through a wilderness of wild and scenic rivers and southern mountains.Also included are several short side trails to overlooks and scenic spots, marked with dashed lines on the maps.The Georgia Chattooga River Trail and Three Forks Trail are trails that intersect the Bartram Trail.  There are maps and trail descriptions for these longer connecting trails.  We have also published a guidebook for the North Carolina Bartram Trail [2] and Chunky Gal Trail and Fires Creek Rim Trail [3] in the same format as the present guide.The latter guide contains trails connecting the Fires Creek Rim Trail to the NC Bartram Trail near Appletree Group Campground.

Continuing from the Bartram Trail described in this guide along the NC Bartram Trail connects one to the Appalachian Trail near Wayah Bald, west of Franklin, NC, where the two trails merge for 2.5 miles.Just across the Chattooga River on the Russell Bridge on Hwy. 28 in South Carolina the Chattooga River Trail goes N along the river and connects to the Foothills Trail [4] 4.6 mi. north of Hwy. 28.The SC Chattooga River Trail then continues along the river for 11.9 mi. until Ellicott Rock where it changes into the Bad Creek Trail in North Carolina.

The Bad Creek Trail travels 3.1 mi. and terminates on Bull Pen Rd. south of Cashiers, NC.The Chattooga River Trail in SC and the Bad Creek Trail in NC are covered in the last section of the guide.Combined with the Georgia Trails, discussed in this guide, one can arrange backpacking trips of 40 mi. along the Chattooga River or longer hikes if one leaves the Chattooga River at Sandy Ford Rd. and stays on the GA Bartram Trail.

The Foothills Trail is a 76-mile trail, which features hiking near the Blue Ridge Escarpment and crossing the wild rivers along the NC-SC border in the Jocassee Gorge area north of Lake Jocassee. At the present time the Georgia Bartram Trail discussed here is the only hiking trail to connect the SC Chattooga River Trail, Foothills Trail and other connecting trails in SC to the Appalachian Trail and its massive network of trails.All of the trails in this guide are for hiking only.Horses, bikes and motorized vehicles are not allowed since they would do severe damage to these trails.

OVERVIEW
This is a detailed description of the Bartram trail in the Chattahoochee National Forest in northeast Georgia. One terminus of this trail is on the Georgia side of the Russell Bridge across the Chattooga River on Highway 28.  North from the Russell Bridge Highway 28 leads to Highlands, NC and south from the bridge Highway 28 leads to Walhalla, SC; From the south side of Highway 28, on the Georgia side, the trail travels southwest approximately 9.5 miles to its crossing of Sandy Ford Road.  This section of the trail alternates between traveling along the Chattooga River to excursions into the foothills and streams flowing toward the Chattooga.  0.4 mi. before crossing Sandy Ford Road the trail passes near the spectacular Dicks Creek Falls, where Dicks Creek cascades 60 ft. into the Chattooga River. There is a pleasant side trail down to the Chattooga River beside Dicks Creek Falls. The section of the trail from the Russell Bridge to Earls Ford Rd. (6.5 mi.) lies in the Big Shoals Georgia Mountain Treasure defined by the Wilderness Society [5].  he section of the trail from Earls Ford Rd. to Bob Gap on Pool Creek Rd. is in the Thrifts Ferry Georgia Mountain Treasure [5].

After crossing Sandy Ford Road, the trail travels approximately 5.6 miles west, often on or near ridge spines, through pine and hardwood forests and passes north of Rainy Mountain. Turning NW after Rainy Mtn. the trail travels 3.7 mi. to Warwoman Dell, an historic, scenic picnic area, 3 mi. NE of Clayton, GA on Warwoman Road.

From Warwoman Dell, the trail crosses Warwoman Road and heads northwesterly towards the higher Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia and the Tennessee Valley Divide. (Warwoman Rd. travels 14 mi. between Clayton, GA and Hwy. 28, 2.1 mi. west of the Russell Bridge Trailhead.  The trail is V shaped with Warwoman Dell being the vertex of the V and Warwoman Rd. being the axis of the V.  The axis runs in a SW to NE direction..)  The very beautiful Becky Branch Falls and Martin Creek Falls are passed on this section.  The trail skirts Pinnacle Knob, which may be ascended on a steep side trail for a stunning mountain vista to the north.  Courthouse Gap is reached 3.7 mi. from Warwoman Dell.

From Courthouse Gap, the trail turns to the northeast and climbs along the Blue Ridge Mountains and Tennessee Valley Divide for 9.8 mi. The trail passes over or near a series of ever-higher mountains, including: Raven Knob, Rock Mtn., Blacks Creek Knob, Double Knob, and Flat Top until reaching the highest point on the trail at the summit of Rabun Bald at an elevation of 4,696 ft.  Rabun Bald is the second highest mountain in Georgia, and the highest that is still in a semi-natural state.  From the refurbished CCC observation tower one has a 360 degree  view of distant mountains, surely one of the most spectacular vistas in the southern Appalachians.  Shortly after Rabun Bald there is an access point from Beegum Gap.

Descending Rabun Bald northeasterly one travels 4.2 miles to the end of the trail at the Georgia-North Carolina border just north of Hale Ridge Road, FS 7, and the southern trailhead for the NC Bartram Trail.  After leaving the skirt of Rabun Bald there are a large number of small stream crossings and rhododendron thickets.  Fifteen bridges are crossed in the last 2.7 mi. These small streams feed Holcomb Creek, a tributary of the West Fork Chattooga River.  The West Fork is crossed on the trail by the West Fork Chattooga Bridge not far from the Russell Bridge Trailhead.  The section of the trail from Warwoman Dell to Hale Ridge Rd. is in the Rabun Bald Georgia Mountain Treasure of the Wilderness Society [5].

[1] Bartram, William, The Travels of William Bartram 1791, Naturalists edition, edited by Francis Harper, Univ. of Georgia Press, Athens, GA 1998.
[2] Ray, J. R. and Skove, M. J.  Bartram Trail, Detailed Trail Guide With Maps Of The Trail In The Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina, 1st edition, 2001, available from the authors.
[3] Ray, J. R. and Skove, M. J.  Chunky Gal Trail and Fires Creek Rim Trail, Detailed Trail Guide With Maps Of The Trails In The Nantahala National Forest in Clay County North Carolina, 3rd edition, 2004, available from the authors.
[4] Foothills Trail Conference (864-467-9537), The Foothills Trail Guide.
[5] Georgia  Mountain Treasures The Unprotected Wildlands of the Chattahoochee National Forest, 1995, The Wilderness Society, 404-872-9453.


                                                     

Dicks Creek Falls, Chattooga River along Bartram Trail