Chattooga River Headwaters Trail

CHATTOOGA CLIFFS TRAIL (County Line Trail)

LENGTH AND DIFFICULTY: 3 mile loop, moderate, USGS Quad-Highlands

From Cashiers take Highway 107 South for 1.7 miles to Whiteside Cove Road. Turn right and proceed 6.8 miles to Macon/Jackson county line, look for Highlands’s fire district sign, park on left.

From Highlands go east on Main Street, becomes Horse Cove Road, for 4.5 miles to intersection with Bull Pen and Whiteside Cove Roads. Take a left onto Whiteside Cove Road and proceed 0.9 miles to trailhead.

Follow the old logging road for 1.2 miles to its junction with Chattooga River Trail. Turn right on the Chattooga River Trail. In 0.36 miles, just before Cane Creek look for trail to right. Turn right and follow path upstream, in 0.1 miles cross Cane Creek on log or take path to right and ford stream. Follow Holly Branch for 0.1 miles to logging road (FR 2052) and turn right. Follow road for 0.84 miles to Whiteside Cove Road. Turn right and walk 0.36 miles to starting point. The trail can be taken in the opposite direction by starting from the gated Forest Service Road (# 2052).

The hike can be lengthened to just over 4 miles by making a side trip to the Chattooga River. From the point where the old logging road intersect the Chattooga River Trail turn left on the Chattooga River Trail and walk 0.54 miles to the Norton Mill Creek bridge. Just past the bridge the Chattooga River narrows to just a few feet wide. After viewing the river backtrack 0.54 miles to the junction with the old logging road and turn left on Chattooga River Trail and follow the direction above from the 1.2 mile mark.

CHATTOOGA LOOP TRAIL

LENGTH AND DIFFICULTY: 1.75 miles loop, moderate, USGS Quad-Highlands

The Chattooga Loop Trail is a 1.75-mile loop trail that begins to the left of the Iron Bridge. The trail follows the Chattooga River Trail for 0.6 miles then turns sharply left and heads uphill. The trail joins an old logging road and comes to a clearing with a picnic table. Turn right and descend to Bull Pen Road. Turn left on Bull Pen Road and follow it downhill back to the Iron Bridge. From Highlands proceed East on Main Street, becomes Horse Cove Road, for 4.5 miles to intersection with Bull Pen and Whiteside Cove Roads. Turn right onto Bull Pen Road (#1178) and proceed for 3.1 miles to Iron Bridge. The trailhead is on left just before bridge. From Cashiers proceed on Hwy 107 South for 7.0 miles and turn right onto Bull Pen Road (#1178 #1180). Proceed for 5.4 miles to the Iron Bridge. The trailhead is on right on far side of bridge. Alternate: from Cashiers Take Hwy 107 south for 1.7 miles and turn right onto Whiteside Cove Road. Proceed for 7.7 miles to intersection of Horse Cove and Bull Pen Roads. Take a left onto Bull Pen Road and proceed 3.1 mile to Iron Bridge.

CHATTOOGA RIVER TRAIL (NC)

LENGTH AND DIFFICULTY: 5.2 miles one way, difficult, USGS Quad-Cashiers/Highlands

Whiteside Cove Trailhead: The trailhead used to start from the Whiteside Cove Church, a new trailhead and parking area has been built on Whiteside Cove Road 0.45 miles east of the church. From Cashiers take Hwy 107 south for 1.7 miles to Whiteside Cove Road. Turn right and proceed 4.25 miles to the parking area, located on the left.  From Highlands go east on Main Street, becomes Horse Cove Road, for 4.5 miles to intersection with Bull Pen and Whiteside Cove Roads. Take a left onto Whiteside Cove Road and proceed 3.45 miles to the parking area, located on the right.

Bull Pen Bridge Trailhead: From Highlands go east on Main Street, becomes Horse Cove Road, for 4.5 miles to intersection with Bull Pen and Whiteside Cove Roads. Turn right onto Bull Pen Road (#1178) and proceed for 3.1 miles to Iron Bridge. Trailhead is on left just before bridge. From Cashiers take Hwy 107 south for 1.8 miles and turn right onto Whiteside Cove Road. Proceed for 7.7 miles to intersection of Horse Cove and Bull Pen Roads. Turn left onto Bull Pen Road and proceed 3.1 miles to Iron Bridge. Alternate: From Cashiers take Hwy 107 south for 7.0 miles to Bull Pen Road (#1178 #1180). Turn right and proceed for 5.4 miles to Iron Bridge. Trailhead is on right just after bridge.

This is a beautiful, scenic 5.2-mile trail following the Chattooga River upstream from the Iron Bridge at Bullpen Road to Whiteside Cove Road.  The trail can be steep at points. Approximately a mile into the hike the trail has eroded down to bare rock. The rock is uneven and slopes toward the river. Exercise caution when traversing this section of the trail.  Much of this trail passes through a rhododendron canopy with numerous views of the river.

The trail begins at the Iron Bridge.

At 0.6 miles is the intersection of the Chattooga Loop Trail and Chattooga River Trail.  Continue straight for Chattooga River Trail. (The left trail is the Chattooga Loop Trail that circles back to the Iron Bridge.)

At 1.5 miles there is a bridge to cross Cane Creek.

At 1.9 miles the trail intersects an old logging road, the Chattooga Narrows Trail.            Turn right and descend toward the river.

At 2.1 miles the road ends at the river’s edge. Continue up river.

At 2.45 miles there is a large waterfall river crossing at the junction of Norton Mill Creek and the Chattooga River. Cross the bridge.

At 2.47 miles you come to the narrows on the right.  Here, two opposing granite ledges jutting out the banks channel the water.

At 3 miles a huge granite rock overlooks a falls to the right.

At 3.7 miles the trail leaves the river and goes uphill to the left. Go left up the hill where you will intersect a logging road.

At 4.3 miles the trail intersects with another trail.  Go right, (trail to left is old trail to church). In approximately 0.7 miles the trail comes to a fork, take the left fork to parking area.

At 5.2 miles the trail reaches Whiteside Cove Road parking area.