Conasauga River Trail

Ellijay

An epic point-to-point trail run through the heart of the Cohutta Mountains.

Trail Running Difficult

Distance
19 km
Ascent
890 m
Descent
459 m
Duration
3-4 hrs
Low Point
386 m
High Point
943 m
Gradient
10˚
Conasauga River Trail Map

The Conasauga River Trail slices through the heart of the Cohutta Mountains and offers trail runners an epic run through the wilderness with opportunities for loops, shuttles, or out-and-backs. There are no known FKT (Fastest Known Time) attempts of the trail, but that shouldn't sway you away from enjoying this spectacular section of North Georgia wilderness.

Description

According to a detailed trail report by cohuttawildernesshiking.com, runners can expect nearly 40 river crossings along the 12-mile stretch. While some of them can be navigated with ease, others will require fords over deeper parts of the rivers. These crossings can range from easy gravel to large fields of boulders, so getting your feet wet is a guarantee. Runners who deal with blistering and chaffing on their feet should consider packing extra socks for the trip.

Though summer temperatures can be unbearable for some, the river offers an excellent option to stay cool, and the wildflowers alongside the trail are nothing short of spectacular. Early spring and late fall, on the other hand, offer more reasonable temperatures for those eyeing to run the trail in a day.

The northwestern terminus is located along West Cowpen Road (FS-17). Double-check your map at all intersections, because it is easy to get lost with the limited and inconsistent road markings.

The southeastern terminus at Betty Gap is the higher of the two, resting just above 3,000' on Three Forks Road (FS-64). With two vehicles, shuttling the trail is a great option, though runners could add to the challenge with an out-and-back from the lower trailhead. Seasonal road closures during the winter and spring have been known to limit access to Betty Gap.

One of the most popular destinations in the region is Panther Creek Falls, a side trip at the near-halfway point of the Conasauga River Trail. From the junction, head up Panther Creek Trail 1-2 miles to access the waterfall. If you're looking to make a loop, you can continue past the waterfall and follow East Cowpen Trail back to Three Forks Road.

Source

Difficulty

Difficult

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Guidebooks in this area