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  1. #21
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    Sugar Cove Trail is closed and all signs removed. I don't believe the Forest Service ever plans to restore or maintain the trail. Of course, hikers can still bushwhack the terrain


    has anyone bushwhacked it in recent years?

    and yeah, ive heard the forest service has it permanently closed.......

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    has anyone bushwhacked it in recent years?

    and yeah, ive heard the forest service has it permanently closed.......
    Due to a hurricane several years ago, or some wind event. Toppled many trees on the trail. But like I said, it's the only foot trail offering a connection between Jacks River and the Conasauga unless you pull Rice Camp or some of the ridge trails like Rough and Hickory Ridge etc.

  3. #23
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    Sugar Cove isn't "closed." It just no longer exists as a trail. But the Cohutta Wilderness is open land that any can hike, bushwhacking to their heart's content. That means intrepid folks can blaze the old Sugar Cove Trail if they wish to.

    I haven't hiked Sugar Cove since about 2005, but one of my hiking companions has. He says the old trail isn't apparent any more due to the big fire of about six or eight years ago. I think that fire was what prompted the closure. The trail was very steep.

    Sugar Cove was a poor route to travel between the Jacks and the Conasauga. It's wasn't directly linked. It required several other trails (Rough Ridge, East Cowpen, Panther Creek or Hickory Creek). Too, walking Sugar Cove uphill with a pack was a mighty haul, especially in summer.

    I'll be doing a big day hike in the Cohuttas in 10 days with a hiking companion who bushwhacks all over the mountains and knows them well. I'll get more details from him about Sugar Cove.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by cneill13 View Post
    Wow. I had no idea 64 shut for the winter.
    Right now it is closed due to 25" of rain that dumped on Cohutta in January (I think it was), which cause a landslide of some sort. They are waiting on a contractor to make a major repair.
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

    www.MeetUp.com/NashvilleBackpacker

    .

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Roper View Post
    Sugar Cove was a poor route to travel between the Jacks and the Conasauga. It's wasn't directly linked. It required several other trails (Rough Ridge, East Cowpen, Panther Creek or Hickory Creek). Too, walking Sugar Cove uphill with a pack was a mighty haul, especially in summer.
    Let's say you're standing in Dally Gap or heading south on the Hemp Top trail (BMT) and you want to connect on foot to the Conasauga River without hiking all the way south to Watson Gap on the BMT and then to Rich Cove and getting on the Pinhoti trail to Buddy Cove Gap and the long roadwalk to Three Forks Mt and the long roadwalk to Betty Gap and the start of the Conasauga trail.

    With Sugar Cove open you could easily leave Dally Gap and get on the upper Jacks River trail near Bear Branch Creek and follow Jacks downstream to the Sugar Cove jct (good luck in finding it across the Jacks) and then take Sugar Cove up to Rough Ridge trail and follow it south to East Cowpens and north to Panther Creek jct and ZAP you're down on the beloved Connie!!

    Just think, no road walking.

    On my next Cohutta trip I'm gonna make every effort to use Sugar Cove trail and "open up" this part of the wilderness. As far as Sugar Cove being a nutbuster, it can't be any worse than the climb out of Double Spring Gap going north to Big Frog Mt; or the climb from Jacks River up the Hickory Ridge or Rough Ridge trails. Or the hellslog up Panther Creek from the Connie to East Cowpen. All tough trails.

  6. #26
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    Sugar Cove was tougher than the climbs up Rough Ridge Trail or Hickory Ridge Trail from the Jacks River, I think. My memory is that it was roughly comparable to the climb from the Conasauga River up Panther Creek Trail to East Cowpen, which is quite pull. The climb up Horseshoe Bend Trail from the Jacks River is very steep but relatively short.

    Probably the toughest climb I've done in the Cohuttas, though, is Tearbritches Trail. That's steep and long.

    I've never down Hemp Top going up Big Frog Mountain. I've come down it twice, including July 8 of this year. It's obviously a booger, though...and in dry seasons there's no water (the little spring near the top often being dry).

    Before I began hiking the AT in 2007, a well-meaning person told me the grades on the AT in Georgia were as tough as the Cohutta Wilderness Area trails. That news gave me serious heartburn. But that information was wildly inaccurate. There's nothing on the AT like the steep Cohuttas trails with the exception of Jacob's Ladder (a/k/a Sweetwater Cliffs?)

  7. #27

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    I do most of my backpacking currently in the Citico/Slickrock wilderness of TN/NC and consider Cohutta/Big Frog trails to be easier. Why? Because Big Frog Mt is the highest point at 4,224 feet whereas Citico/Slick's highest point is 5,300 feet. In other words, you're backpacking an extra thousand feet up on the Cit/Slick trails. The worst is probably the Upper Slickrock Creek #42 trail aka the Nutbuster and it's devilish. Another tough one is leaving Calderwood lake on the Slickrock Creek trail to Ike Branch to Yellowhammer Gap to Hangover Lead North trail to Big Fat Gap to Hangover Lead South to Hangover Mt, a climb of around 4,200 feet. There's nothing like this in the Cohutta.

    In fact, Backpacker magazine once called the Nutbuster trail one of the 12 toughest humps in the country. See---

    http://www.backpacker.com/trips/wyoming/twelve-toughest-trails/




  8. #28
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    It's not a matter of elevation; it's elevation change. If I climb from sea level to 2,000 feet over the course of two miles, that's going to be much tougher than a climb from 4,000 to 5,000 feet over two miles. Tearbritches in Cohutta Wilderness climbs 2,100 feet in three miles. That's the same as North Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon from the bridge to the North Rim. There are undoubtedly steeper trails out there, but the climbs in the Cohutta and Big Frog are the toughest I've experienced with the exception of Jacob's Ladder on the AT (but at one mile in length it isn't the lengthy grind of some others).

  9. #29

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    Dan, have you done the Citico/Slickrock trails? Like I said, I put the Cohutta/Big Frog in the moderate category versus the difficult category of the Cit/Slick. I've done both trail systems and definitely prefer backpacking the Cohutta "nuts" vs the Cit/Slick. But don't take my word for it, come on out and do these trails and then we'll talk:
    CITICO SIDE
    North Fork Citico
    Brush Mt
    Mill Branch
    Crowder Branch

    SLICKROCK SIDE
    Upper Slickrock Nutbuster
    Hangover Lead North and South to Hangover Mt
    Jenkins Meadow
    Deep Creek from bottom Up.

  10. #30

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    Sorry, I have to agree with Tipi. Even the steep climb up Big Frog isn't as difficult as some of the trails in Citico/Slickrock...in fact, I thought that climb was pretty easy. Then again, my pack was only 20lbs, not 70.

  11. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    Sorry, I have to agree with Tipi. Even the steep climb up Big Frog isn't as difficult as some of the trails in Citico/Slickrock...in fact, I thought that climb was pretty easy. Then again, my pack was only 20lbs, not 70.
    You bring up a good point. Let me amend my Dan Roper comment: Please do the Cit/Slick trails with a 70 lb pack. Amen, pass the GU gels and gorp.

    And let's talk about the climb up to Big Frog Mt. If you're talking about Trail 64 from forest road 221 to the top, well, it's an EASY trail when compared to many others. If you climb to the Frog on Chestnut Ridge/Wolf Ridge it's a little harder. If you come up the Frog on the Licklog trail it's moderate. From Double Spring Gap it's a Nuteater but short (800 gain in .8th of a mile).

  12. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    You bring up a good point. Let me amend my Dan Roper comment: Please do the Cit/Slick trails with a 70 lb pack. Amen, pass the GU gels and gorp.

    And let's talk about the climb up to Big Frog Mt. If you're talking about Trail 64 from forest road 221 to the top, well, it's an EASY trail when compared to many others. If you climb to the Frog on Chestnut Ridge/Wolf Ridge it's a little harder. If you come up the Frog on the Licklog trail it's moderate. From Double Spring Gap it's a Nuteater but short (800 gain in .8th of a mile).
    I have only done it from Double Spring Gap. So, I should amend me earlier statement and say, "In my limited experience in the Cohutta's...", or maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.

  13. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    I have only done it from Double Spring Gap. So, I should amend me earlier statement and say, "In my limited experience in the Cohutta's...", or maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.
    I guess you came up the Frog from Dally Gap on the Hemp Top side? It's easy except for the final hell climb from Double Spring Gap to the Licklog Jct. It's about a thousand foot gain in about a mile. Pretty tough.

  14. #34
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    I wasn't making comparisons. I was just making the point that a 1,000 foot climb in one mile is the same whether that mile winds up at 2,000 feet or at 5,000 feet. The person up above seemed to be making the point that the climb ending at 5,000 feet was harder (he probably wasn't; I don't think any experienced hiker would think so).

  15. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Roper View Post
    I wasn't making comparisons. I was just making the point that a 1,000 foot climb in one mile is the same whether that mile winds up at 2,000 feet or at 5,000 feet. The person up above seemed to be making the point that the climb ending at 5,000 feet was harder (he probably wasn't; I don't think any experienced hiker would think so).
    Of course climbing from 2,000 feet to 4,224 feet (the top of Big Frog Mt) versus from 2,000 feet to 5,300 feet (in let's say 3 miles) will be harder.

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Roper View Post
    Sugar Cove isn't "closed." It just no longer exists as a trail. But the Cohutta Wilderness is open land that any can hike, bushwhacking to their heart's content. That means intrepid folks can blaze the old Sugar Cove Trail if they wish to.

    I haven't hiked Sugar Cove since about 2005, but one of my hiking companions has. He says the old trail isn't apparent any more due to the big fire of about six or eight years ago. I think that fire was what prompted the closure. The trail was very steep.

    Sugar Cove was a poor route to travel between the Jacks and the Conasauga. It's wasn't directly linked. It required several other trails (Rough Ridge, East Cowpen, Panther Creek or Hickory Creek). Too, walking Sugar Cove uphill with a pack was a mighty haul, especially in summer.

    I'll be doing a big day hike in the Cohuttas in 10 days with a hiking companion who bushwhacks all over the mountains and knows them well. I'll get more details from him about Sugar Cove.
    Gonna respond to an old thread since I actually hiked the Sugar Cove Trail today, but didnít really think it warranted a new post since this one already has all of the forumís information on this trail in one place.

    SUGAR CREEK TRAIL UPDATE:
    You canít really call it a trail anymore. I came in from the Rough Ridge Trail side. There were random stretches of 30-50 feet that you could follow pretty easily, but for the most part is was good ol fashion bushwhacking. There were sporadically pink ribbons tied to trees, which is the only way I saw where the trail ďstartedĒ, but they didnít help too much. Once I got to the bottom for some stretches I just rock-hopped along the creek (Sugar Cove Branch). I would not recommend it to the feint of heart. I tried to follow the map where the Sugar Cove Trail turns to run parallel with Jacks River for a stretch before crossing it, but I ended up bailing off that leg and just heading to Jacks River to cross and get on the Jacks River Trail.

    My original plan was to back track the Sugar Cove but I thought it would be more fun to take the Jacks River Trail north to the Rough Ridge Trail and hike that south to where I started at the south East Cowpen trailhead. I couldnít find where the Rough Ridge Trail connected to the Jacks River Trail and ended up bushwhacking again to make the connection. In hindsight I think if Iíd have followed the Jacks River Trail just a tad farther Iíd have found the junction. The Rough Ridge Trail was overgrown on the northern 2/3rds, but not enough to slow you down too much and still easy to follow.

    It was a great day.
    Last edited by Slugg; 06-14-2020 at 10:34.
    traveliní light

  17. #37

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    How was the Jack's River Trail?
    Many people in the area? I'm interested in the trail and river, but even more so about people and trash.
    May do the Penitentiary Loop(and up to the falls, of course!) as a quick overnighter Tue/Wed or Wed/Thur...

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by OwenM View Post
    How was the Jack's River Trail?
    Many people in the area? I'm interested in the trail and river, but even more so about people and trash.
    May do the Penitentiary Loop(and up to the falls, of course!) as a quick overnighter Tue/Wed or Wed/Thur...
    Keep in mind I was only on it for a stretch of 3.6 miles, but the trail was in pretty good shape and easy to follow. I saw a couple tents up with people presumably out on day hikes and around 12-15 hikers in smaller groups. Trash I saw was limited to fire rings, I bet crowds would be a small fraction of that during the week.
    traveliní light

  19. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slugg View Post
    Gonna respond to an old thread since I actually hiked the Sugar Cove Trail today, but didnít really think it warranted a new post since this one already has all of the forumís information on this trail in one place.

    SUGAR CREEK TRAIL UPDATE:
    You canít really call it a trail anymore. I came in from the Rough Ridge Trail side. There were random stretches of 30-50 feet that you could follow pretty easily, but for the most part is was good ol fashion bushwhacking. There were sporadically pink ribbons tied to trees, which is the only way I saw where the trail ďstartedĒ, but they didnít help too much. Once I got to the bottom for some stretches I just rock-hopped along the creek (Sugar Cove Branch). I would not recommend it to the feint of heart. I tried to follow the map where the Sugar Cove Trail turns to run parallel with Jacks River for a stretch before crossing it, but I ended up bailing off that leg and just heading to Jacks River to cross and get on the Jacks River Trail.

    My original plan was to back track the Sugar Cove but I thought it would be more fun to take the Jacks River Trail north to the Rough Ridge Trail and hike that south to where I started at the south East Cowpen trailhead. I couldnít find where the Rough Ridge Trail connected to the Jacks River Trail and ended up bushwhacking again to make the connection. In hindsight I think if Iíd have followed the Jacks River Trail just a tad farther Iíd have found the junction. The Rough Ridge Trail was overgrown on the northern 2/3rds, but not enough to slow you down too much and still easy to follow.

    It was a great day.
    The last time I was on Sugar Cove trail was in May 2019 when I took Rough Ridge up from Jacks River and stopped at the old Sugar Cove trailhead---at rock in pic below.


    This pic shows Rough Ridge trail on left and old Sugar Cove trail turning right by this rock.


    This pic is looking down Sugar Cove trail close to Rough Ridge jct.


    You immediately reach the top headwaters to Sugar Cove Creek and heck why not just follow it down to Jacks---as you did.

    It's a real shame this trail has been abandoned by the FS---it offers a great way to connect the Jacks watershed with the Conasauga watershed on the Dally Gap side.

  20. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slugg View Post
    Keep in mind I was only on it for a stretch of 3.6 miles, but the trail was in pretty good shape and easy to follow. I saw a couple tents up with people presumably out on day hikes and around 12-15 hikers in smaller groups. Trash I saw was limited to fire rings, I bet crowds would be a small fraction of that during the week.
    Sweet. Thanks!

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