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Coosa Back-Country Trail 

MAPLENGTH: 13 miles   SKILL: Intermediate

PROS: Views, Biological diversity  CONS: None

WATER: Calf Stomp Gap  NOTES: Due to the incredibly rugged terrain, this is not a day hike.

 

Georgia High-Country

Most non natives would not think of Georgia as a high country hiking destination. The mountains of Georgia have many surprises for the first time visitor and one of them is the Coosa backcountry Trail . The trailhead for the 12.7 mile walk is in Vogel State Park which is smack, dab in the middle of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Vogel and Indian Springs were the first state parks in Georgia. The 280 acre park is at an elevation of 2,280 feet and can get very crowded in the summer. The free permit that is required to hike the Coosa can obtained at the park store located beside Lake Trahlyta.  The lake was built by the CCC in the 30's and is named after the Indian PrincessTrahlyta.

The Trailhead is beside a restroom and drink machine. Little did I know how good that drink machine will look in a couple of days. The trail begins a gentle climb through a pine-hardwood forest and is with yellow blazes. For 2 miles the trail follows a creek. Before long the trail crosses a paved road. Here as well as on other parts of the trail is a sign that warns the unwary hiker. It explains that the Coosa is not a day hike and to turn back if not well equipped.

Cross the road and continue on an old road bed. A winter view to the left of the trail reveals the mountains you are about to climb. After a downhill stretch  you begin to climb.

The Coosa Trail is relatively dry so the water sources are not always obvious. The half way point on the trail is Calf Stomp Gap and is the location of the stream. As you approach the dirt road that the trail crosses the sound of a stream is down the slope to your right. Several  fire rings and cleared areas for camping are here. The trail crosses the road and begins a climb.       

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Calf Stomp Gap

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Filtering water from the creek below Calf  Stomp Gap   

The terrain here is very rugged and the footing can be shaky. As you approach the Blood Mountain Wilderness you pass a blue blazed side trail that goes to Coosa Bald. Descend the mountain cross a road, water is to your right. Enter the Blood Mountain Wilderness. Through legislation in 1991, 7,800 acres was designated the Blood Mountain Wilderness. . Here is a pretty BIG climb as the trail approaches Slaughter Mountain. As you climb the step mountain you can see winter views of Blood Mountain in the distance.

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Steep trails are the rule

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Blood Mountain in the background

The trail descends into Slaughter Gap a wide open area with fire rings and a multiple trail junction. Here the AT the Coosa and The Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail meet. This gap is well signed and the trails are blazed. Yellow for Coosa and white for the AT. On our trip there the weather went from 60 degrees to snow in about an hour. It began snowing at Slaughter Gap just as a group that had been hiking the AT arrived. They had been hiking since Unicoi Gap and some still had their shorts on. We decided to get water from the spring just below the gap.

As legend has it, Slaughter Gap is the location of a fierce and bloody battle between the Creek and the Cherokee Indians.  The battle was so deadly that the streams at the base of the mountain ran red with blood. Another legend is that somewhere on Blood Mountain is a cave with hidden gold and treasures. Before the Cherokees were rounded up for the Trail of Tears, legend has it , they buried their treasure on Blood Mountain.   Somewhere.

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Starting to snow at Slaughter Gap

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Filtering water at the Slaughter Gap spring

We started our short climb to Blood Mountain on the AT.At 4,458 feet Blood Mountain is the highest point on the Georgia section of the AT. The Civilian Conservation Corp built the Blood Mountain Shelter in the 30's. It has two rooms, a fireplace and a wooden floor in the sleeping room. There used to be furniture in the front room.  There isn't any water at the top of the mountain but we were offered water by the many many hikers that passed through.

The trees that are on the summit look like they are from a horror movie set, scraggly, stunted and lichen covered. Just above the shelter is a large flat rock from which there is a spectacular view. The summit of Blood Mountain is very interesting and very well traveled. Hours could be spent here exploring and enjoying the views. Hwy 19 is just a few miles east, at the base of the mountain.  Another car can be parked on 19 for a straight through hike we, however, backtracked down to Slaughter Gap.         

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Blood Mountain Shelter in a snow storm

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The fog rolls in

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Creek near the end of the hike

   The Coosa descends down from Slaughter Gap very steeply on a rugged trail. After a few miles, the drink machine that we saw at the start of the hike was calling our names. Nothing like a cold Pepsi after a good hike. The drink machine must have been put there by a fellow hiker.

GETTIN' THERE

Vogel State Park is 10 miles south of Blairsville, Ga. off of Hwy. 19-129.

Rt. 76 from I-85 or I-75 will take you to Blairsville.       

                                          Vogel State Park
7485 Vogel State Park Road
Blairsville, GA 30512
706-745-2628
706-745-3139 (fax)
vogel@alltel.net   Vogel State Park>>>>

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