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Duluth Massage

Bear Creek Trail
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 6.4 miles Type of trail: Loop
County: Murray County, GA Our rating:
Features: stream, special Your rating:
Usage: Heavy Added on: September 09, 1996
Last hiked: June 21, 2014 Updated on: October 26, 2014
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Hiking trails in Murray County, GA

Directions to Bear Creek Trail

About the Bear Creek Trail

We have hiked this trail 3 times since 1996 and each time the trail and the drive in has been improved. Originally the trail markers were almost gone and it is now easy to follow the trail. The saddest thing however, is the human impact on the Gennett Poplar. We encourage hikers, bikers and ATV riders to leave this tree alone.

Virgin forest is rare in the north Georgia mountains. The Bear Creek Trail contains what appears to be a never harvested section of land with trees so immense that they literally astound even the casual observer. Deep in this section of forest is the so-called Gennett poplar standing some 100 feet high and nearly twenty feet around. The tree is massive, and it alone is reason enough to try this hike.

This loop trail follows Bear Creek from a point off Forest Service Road 241, and features the second largest tree in North Georgia. The Gennett Poplar is named for the family who owned the local lumber mill and sold the land to the United State government. Over the long trail expect an average elevation change of 400 feet per mile from the trailhead to the top of Potatopatch Mountain. Note: We measured the drive on FS 241 from Gates Chapel to the trailhead as 2.0 miles on a vehicle odometer. If you decide to hike this section instead of driving it, the total length of the trail is 10.4 miles.

Bear Creek Trail

From the small parking lot on Forest Service Road 241 there is a short path to the start of the loop. We normally hike this trail in a counterclockwise direction, mostly because the Gennett Poplar is within the first mile. The Pinhoti Trail shares this footpath until the Bear Creek Loop comes off at 1.1 miles.

Along the trail are multiple stream crossings (I would normally call them "wet-foot" crossings, but they are well done.) There are some scenic views of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Wildlife is abundant, including some of the larger species, so be prepared to see larger animals including bear, especially during dry summers.

Starting at about .5 notice the size of the trees dramatically increases. This is the sign that you are approach the Gennett Poplar, which is now marked with a sign at 0.9 miles. Tulip poplar was a popular tree (no pun intended) with early settlers because it was quick growing and could be used to build cabins.

At 1.0 mile, shortly after the Gennett Poplar, a trail marker indicates that the Bear Creek Loop comes off to the right and the Bear Creek Trail continues straight ahead. This "loop" uses a 0.2 mile connector trail to create a balloon trail. In our case, this is the return trail.

At this point the Bear Creek Trail continues straight along a old logging road. Further along is a "road closed" barricade (continue past this obstacle.) Then the path enters the woods along Bear Creek, eventually coming out on Forest Service Road 68. From here the trail uses old logging roads to wind through the forest to return to the trailhead.


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