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Benton MacKaye, Sec. I
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 5.3 miles Type of trail: Point to Point
County: Gilmer County, GA, Fannin County, GA Our rating: Moderate
Features: stream, ATaccess, 60hikes Your rating:
Usage: Light Added on: September 29, 2001
Last hiked: September 29, 2015 Updated on: January 24, 2016
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Directions to Benton MacKaye, Sec. I

Synopsis: The first part of the Benton Mackaye Trail runs from Springer Mountain to Three Forks, where Stovall Creek and Long Creek meet to form Noontootla Creek. From the start this 5.3 mile hike is essentially downhill, although there are some brief, moderate uphill climbs. It is a excellent trail, widely varying in eco-systems from dry, rocky mountaintops to rich-soil creeks loaded with plants of all types. Throughout the hike, rhododendron are prevalent, frequently forming an arch over the trail.

Benton MacKaye Trail - An overview of the Benton Mackaye Trail in Georgia

From the Appalachian Trail parking lot on Forest Service Road 42, hike the AT to Springer Mountain. For more details on this portion of the hike, please see Springer Mountain for information on this AT Day Hike. This adds another .95 miles to the hike. Continue past the Benton MacKaye trail marker to the start of the AT and the Benton MacKaye atop Springer Mountain. There are excellent views to the southwest from the top of Springer.

Hiking briefly down the Appalachian Trail, the Benton MacKaye turns right just past the path leading to the Springer Mountain Shelter. Climbing Ball Mountain, but skirting the top (some good southern views are a few feet off the path), the trail closely follows the Tennessee Water Divide to Big Stamp Gap, where it crosses Forest Service Road 42 (1.62 miles).

Section I of the Benton MacKaye Trail
Over the next mile and a half the path rises and falls repeatedly, eventually climbing to Rich Mountain. This section is frequently covered by rhododendron and has a number of wet-foot crossings of creeks. At 3.20 miles the trail rejoins the Appalachian Trail and for the next .6 miles the AT and the BMT share the same path. It is during this time that you reach the top of Rich Mountain, a spine of high ridges that runs almost the entire distance between the F. S. 42 parking lot and Three Forks. As you begin your descent, the AT splits off and dramatically falls down the side of Rich Mountain and follows Stovall Creek to Three Forks.

The Benton MacKaye Trail continues along the ridge of Rich Mountain, falling much more gently. Although overgrown in some areas, the footpath has been recently remarked to make the journey easier. As you continue down the slope of Rich Mountain the treadway follows an old logging road. Note the extensive road system further down the ridge. This is indicative of the vast logging that stripped the lumber from these mountains in the late 19th and early 20th century.

At 5.28 miles the BMT rejoins the AT to cross the bridge at Three Forks. After Three Forks the Benton MacKaye continues along the same path as the Appalachian Trail until Long Creek Falls.

Topographic map of the Benton MacKaye Sec. I
Benton MacKaye Trail pages

Benton MacKaye Trail
Overview of the trail in Georgia
Benton MacKaye, Sec. I
Covers the trail from Springer Mountain to Three Forks
Benton MacKaye, Sec. II
Covers the trail from Three Forks to GA 60 including the footbridge over the Toccoa


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Article Links
Appalachian Trail
Benton MacKaye Trail
Benton MacKaye, Sec. I
Benton MacKaye, Sec. II
Long Creek Falls
Springer Mountain

Georgia Trails
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