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Duluth Massage

Benton MacKaye, Sec. II
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 11.3 miles Type of trail: Point to Point
County: Fannin County, GA Our rating: Moderate
Features: waterfalls, stream, camping, ATaccess Your rating:
Usage: Added on: October 22, 2002
Last hiked: October 22, 2014 Updated on: January 24, 2016
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Directions to Benton MacKaye, Sec. II

Benton MacKaye Section II

This section of the Benton MacKaye stretches from popular Three Forks to the first crossing of State Road 60 and is perhaps the most remote trail in Georgia, with the exception of the trails in the Cohutta Wilderness. It begins at Three Forks, shares the footpath with the Appalachian Trail to Long Creek Falls, then veers north, leaving the AT at the start of the Duncan Ridge Trail. For the next ten miles it crosses two dirt road (FS 333 and 816) and a spectacular swinging bridge over the Toccoa River.

The BMT begins climbing as soon as it leaves Three Forks (the confluence of Stover, Chester, and Long Creek to form Noontootla Creek). For the first half-mile the trail climbs slowly but steadily alongside Long Creek. At .5 miles the trail leaves Long Creek and continues to climb. At .9 miles the trail to Long Creek Falls veers off to the left at a well-marked intersection. A few feet later the Benton MacKaye says goodbye to the Appalachian Trail for 250 miles (also well-marked).

After the turn, the Benton MacKaye Trail rejoins Long Creek running near it as the trail rises steadily, but at an easy pace. After the trail leaves the stream (mile 1.8) its only a few hundred feet to the top of Bald Mountain. Unfortunately, this climb is significantly more difficult that the first 1.8 miles of the trip as the trail steepens dramatically. The trail follows the mountaintop ridge briefly. Over the next 2 miles the BMT descends and rises repeatedly, until reaching Wildcat Ridge. Here the footpath follows the ridge, which easily transitions to John Dick Mountain. Over the next mile there are repeated scenic views as the path descends into Bryson Gap then climbs Little John Dick Mountain. From here to F.S. 333 the footpath takes on a rolling, similar to paths further north with a number of quick ascents/descents.

When you pass the peak of Little John Dick Mountain and begin to descend, you are entering the valley created by the Toccoa River. At this point the Benton MacKaye begins a long, surprisingly easy, descent to the river. As you reach the swinging bridge there are camping sites to the left (these are our favorites, but they are heavily used). Additional camping can be found across the bridge.

The Swinging Bridge is one of those great places to stop and spend some time even if you don't want to spend the night. Plan on an extended break to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The Toccoa River is broad and fast moving, dropping quickly as it makes a wide sweeping curve around Tooni Mountain. On weekends from the Spring to the Fall people in canoes, kayaks and rafts travel down the river from Deep Hole to the Dial Bridge.

From the bridge you begin a gradual ascent out of the Toccoa River valley and up Tooni (or Toonowee) Mountain. This climb is easy at first, getting harder as you reach the ridge that forms the summit of the mountain. From here to the top the path "rolls," following an ascent/descent pattern familiar to hikers for the next mile as you reach the acme of the mountain then follow the ridge down.

Abruptly, at 10.7 miles, the path turns left and begins a steep descent towards the intersection of Highway 60 and FS 816, where it crosses the road.

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