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  1. #1
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Default Trail Guide to Duncan Ridge Trail...and other stuff

    The Duncan Ridge Trail is a 30'ish mile blue-blazed trail that connects the Benton Mac and Appalachian Trails. There is a bit of mis-information on the web about this trail. With the exception of one book, Homan's "Hiking Trails of North Georgia", there is no good description of the trail.

    I've hiked it a few times now and have accumulated enough notes and photos to compile a little trail guide. Just a couple pages, a narrative with links to photos and maps. The guide clearly shows where to find campsites and water, including at least one source that isn't marked on any maps or mentioned by other trail resources.

    Would anyone mind if I published it on this site, in this forum?
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Kinda on topic, kinda off....

    When I was at the Southeastern Foot Trails Conference (organized by our own Mowgli) I took several short classes. One of them was taught by John Ray who has compiled the excellent series of guides on the Bartram Trail. I thought I knew how to make a trail guide until I talked with John!

    John was my classmate in another class on trail maintenance, we had worked together building several waterbars, Coweeta dips, and steps the previous day.

    Get this: He and a buddy take a surveyor's wheel to the trail, and every 200 feet they take a GPS waypoint. In a notebook they write comments about the waypoints ("start of switchback, road intersection, mountain peak, stream crossing", etc.). Back home the waypoints and comments are loaded into a database. Then the waypoints are plotted on a topo map, compiling a line based on these closely spaced points. Clicking on any one point brings up the waypoint and comments. And he's done this for literally HUNDREDS of miles of trails in Georgia and Carolina!

    His trail guides, published with permission of the topo software company, are so detailed they are used as a resource management tool by the Forest Service! If there's a blowdown or a washout, it can be located precisely with the guides and the best route for a repair/maintenance crew to access the location can be determined.

    And they're updated every year! Relocations are included in his database and more side trails are added as time permits. I was just blown away! Wow. Now I want to get my own wheel and GPS unit!

    It wasn't the first or only time I was blown away during the SEFTC. All of the programs presented went way beyond my expectations. It was a huge conference, over 150 attending, with numerous concurrent training sessions going on all day. Like the blind men trying to describe an elephant, I can only tell about the isolated areas I touched:

    Trail maintenance was taught by seasoned professionals - volunteers, some who flew to SC from Colorado -and- by professional trail builders who run companies that install heavy duty trails at riding resorts and national parks! Hands-on stuff, not just lectures. We worked on a trail in the state park.

    Trail design classes were taught by a PhD in Outdoor Recreation from Univ. Georgia, the mentor of Tha Wookie. Speaking of the Wook, he presented the slide-show of his Pacific Coast hike. I didn't know Wookie was also an accomplished musician, he accented the show with songs, guitar and harmonica.

    Other speakers included a Congressman from SC. Published authors held roundtables on outdoor writing. A slideshow by a professional outdoor photographer. Want to know how to start a trailhead information area? The GATC told how they set up one inside the Amicalola Falls Visitor's Center. Managing a non-profit organization was taught by someone who's been working with non-profits for 20 years. I'll stop, you get the idea, but I'm leaving out 80 - 90% of what went on that weekend.

    And Mowgli, bless his heart, works hard for his money. I don't think I ever saw him sit down.
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  2. #2
    Registered User FatMan's Avatar
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    Bring it on. I may do the loop in the near future and the more info the better. Is the Duncan Ridge as rugged and tough as I've heard?

  3. #3
    Registered User FatMan's Avatar
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    And yes, John Ray's Bartram Trail guide is exceptional.

  4. #4
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatMan
    Bring it on. I may do the loop in the near future and the more info the better. Is the Duncan Ridge as rugged and tough as I've heard?
    It ain't all that bad. Here's my best comparison: Imagine you're at Horse Gap, just before Sassafrass Mtn in Georgia. Walk from Horse over Sassafrass, down to Cooper Gap, then up both peaks of Justus Mtn and down to Justus Creek. Turn around and walk back to Horse. Then walk back to the creek.

    That's pretty much like a day on the DRT. Lots of ups and downs but no Everests.
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  5. #5
    Registered User TakeABreak's Avatar
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    Please do submit it.

  6. #6
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Default Duncan Ridge Trail Guide

    The Duncan Ridge Trail is a blue-blazed trail connecting the Appalachian Trail and the Benton MacKaye Trail in Georgia.

    The ‘sections’ below are entirely arbitrary. I just hooked up trail terminus points with major road crossings, then major road crossings to each other.

    Section 1 – DRT Terminus at Blood Mtn to Wolf Pen Gap (2.3 miles)
    Just a short stretch between the eastern trailhead and the first road crossing.

    The DRT terminus was moved to the base of Blood Mountain when the AT was relocated around Slaughter Gap. It is about 1 mile from its junction with the AT to the sign just west of Slaughter Gap at an intersection of several trails.
    http://www.home.earthlink.net/~stewa...tion%20Map.jpg

    The DRT is concurrent with the Coosa Backcountry Trail for most of this section.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh...cat/578/page/6

    This sign marks the ‘old’ terminus of the Duncan Ridge Trail near Slaughter Gap. The terminus was relocated after the AT was relo’d to bypass Slaughter. There are obvious modifications to the sign due to the relos.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh...sort/1/cat/578

    From the above sign it is about 1.3 miles to Wolf Pen Gap. The trail traverses across the flat, fern covered peak of Slaughter Mountain (4140 feet) then drops sharply through hardwood forest and scrub brush to Wolf Pen Gap (3260 feet). A paved road, GA-128, crosses the trail here.

    Wolf Pen Gap – The view is looking south from the east side of GA -180. Water is available where the road curves in the background, on the west side of GA-180.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/

    Wolf Pen Gap - Campsites beside a stream are behind and to the right of this sign on the east side of GA-180. It will, rather obviously, be a bit of a bushwhack.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh...sort/1/cat/578


    Section 2 – Wolf Pen Gap to Mulky Gap (9.1 miles)
    This section runs mostly along the northern edge of the Cooper Creek Wildlife Management Area. The DRT shares the same path as the Coosa Backcountry Trail from Wolf Pen Gap to near the top of Coosa Bald. At Wolf Pen Gap a gravel Forest Service Road (FS-39) parallels the ridge and the DRT until Bryant Gap. The DRT will intersect this road several times but will not cross it. Mulky Gap is crossed by an all-weather gravel Forest Service Road, FS-4.

    From Wolf Pen Gap, the climb up Wildcat Mountain (3840’) is long. It goes over a shoulder of the mountain then sidehill across the mountain’s slope. Just when you might believe the trail will bypass the mountain, the trail turns and climbs right to the summit. The downhill on the west side of Wildcat is easy! The trail intersects and follows FS-39 road at Wildcat Gap (3180’) for approximately 30 yards before beginning the climb to Coosa Bald. I looked for a spring near Wildcat Gap but did not find one.

    The trail up the west side of Coosa Bald is an old road that, evidently, still gets some ORV traffic. The trail is rough, rocky, and not very pretty. https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/


    The Coosa Backcountry Trail turns away from the DRT a few hundred yards from the Coosa Summit. Yellow birch trees grow around the Coosa Bald summit (2.9 miles from Wolf Pen Gap, 4270’ elevation). This is the southernmost limit of the yellow birch’s range. There are some large ones near the survey marker at the summit. The tree is recognizable by its twisted branches, peeling bark, and light yellow foliage.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/


    The trail passes close to the rocky summit of Coosa Bald then drops straight down the ridge to White Oak Stomp. White Oak Stomp (3.8 miles, 3460’) is on the west side of Coosa Bald, where the DRT intersects FS-39. The trail is an old road bed that is blocked by the large rock. There is a spring directly across the road and approximately 150 yards downhill.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/

    The spring at White Oak Stomp originates at the root base of a blown down tree ..
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/

    Now that you know about this spring, carefully consider this: There are water sources on either side of the Coosa/Wildcat Mountains climb! There is no need to carry a lot of water over these two mountains! If you’re headed westbound the next water source is over 5 miles away, plan accordingly. If you’re headed eastbound, you’ll need water but there’s no need to carry more than enough for an hour’s worth of hiking until you get to Wolf Pen Gap. This is valuable information! Use it.

    Leaving White Oak Stomp, there is a sidehill walk around Buckeye Knob (5.5 miles, 3820’) before a long drop into Buckeye Gap (6.5 miles, 3280’) where you’ll see FS-39 again.

    Next is an extremely narrow sidehill trail across a steep slope overlooking farms in the valley below. The trail drops into Bryant Gap (7.1 miles, 3250’) where you’ll see FS-39 for the last time.
    Across the road from Bryant Gap –used- to be an old FS road that led about a quarter mile to a stream. Recent road construction on FS-39 has obliterated this road. But you shouldn’t need water because you found the spring at White Oak Stamp, right?

    A sharp climb out of Bryant Gap leads up to Buck Knob (3460), a drop to a small gap (7.9 miles, 3380’) then a short climb to West Wildcat Knob (8.2 miles, 3500’). There must have been a lot of wildcats in these mountains at one time, that makes two ‘Wildcats’ in 8 miles! After this Wildcat, there is a nicely switchbacked drop into Mulky Gap (9.1 miles, 2780’) , where FS-4 crosses the trail.

    There are campsites and a spring down a gated road on the west side of Mulky Gap. Follow the road approximately 250 yards, where the road dips. The springs are to the right. This is really just an area of water seeps that combine to form a small stream, you might have to follow the stream downhill a little ways to find a place deep enough to get water.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/


    Section 3 – Mulky Gap to GA-60 (11.4 miles)
    This section is the stretch that has earned the DRT its reputation. The trail stays on or very near the ridge, there are few switchbacks, and very few peaks along the ridge are bypassed. It is quite remote, being interrupted only by one dead-end Forest Service road at Fish Gap. The DRT joins the Benton MacKaye Trail for the last 4 miles or so. GA-60 is a paved road, the same road that the AT crosses at Woody Gap. The trail crossing is about 15 miles from Suches.

    You’ll start Akin and continue to Payne, mountain and knob, respectively. “Akin and Payne”, heh! Going west from Mulky, the next water source is over 4.5 miles away. Carry what you’ll need.

    West of FS-4, the long but gradual climb up Akin Mtn begins. Although all maps show the trail heading straight up the ridge, the trail has been relocated with a series of long switchbacks to the south of the gap. There is a large patch of Ladyslipper orchids near the east base of Akin, near the road, that bloom in Spring. After summitting Akin (1.4 miles, 3530’),and dropping into a small gap, there is a short but steep climb to the top of Clements Mtn. (3500’).

    There will be another climb to the top of Fish Knob before, finally, a relatively long flat section around a cove into Fish Gap (3.5 miles, 3100’) where FS-28 deadends. The entire area between Mulky and Fish Gaps show signs of a recent fire. The trail to the east of Fish Gap has many dead rhododendrons killed by the fire.

    There is a gradual climb out of Fish Gap that follows a series of old Forest Service roads. The trail regains the ridge, rolls along it for awhile to about 3320’, then drops straight down into Sarvis Gap (4.6 miles, 3020’). A sign on a tree points to water, a good spring approximately 150 yards downstream. The next water source is about 3 miles away, but there’s a lot of climbs in between.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/

    Now the fun starts! There are a series of major climbs from Sarvis Gap to Rhodes Mtn, including Payne Knob (5.1 miles, 3420’), Gregory Knob (5.9 miles, 3360’). There are signs of mining on the east side of Payne and a big trench dug on the western slope of Gregory. I believe mica was mined from these areas at one time.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh...lery/index.php

    After Gregory, the DRT will climb over N-S ridge called Clingman’s Ridge. There appears to be a jeep road near the ridge that still gets occasional use. In other words, there’s some trash in this area. Beyond the Ridge is Rhodes Gap (6.7 miles, 2980’)

    At the summit of Rhodes Mountain (7.1 miles, 3380) is a nice viewpoint. The summit is marked with a small cairn of rocks. Walk out on an exposed rock ledge to the north for a Kodak moment:
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/500/page/

    After the DRT intersects the BMT downhill from Rhodes, it is about ½ mile to a campsite at the base of Licklog Mountain. Follow a trail, blazed with sloppy blue splashes on trees and orange surveyors tape to a spring.

    This is the campsite at Licklog Gap, there is a small rock fire ring in the middle. The trail down to water starts to the right of the evergreen tree behind the fire ring. This is an important water stop, don’t miss it! The next water source is about 4 miles off.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh...sort/1/cat/578

    There is another campsite on the Licklog summit (8.2 miles, 3472’). It is marked with an old metal fence post. Several of these fence posts are scattered along the DRT – I believe they were once used for orienteering practice by the Army Rangers.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh...sort/1/cat/578

    Then a long climb up to Walhalla! Coming down Walhalla Mtn (9.7 miles, 3100’) on the south side, is a nice view of the Taccoa River valley.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/

    Then there’s a long drop to Skeenah Creek and GA-60. A wooden footbridge crosses Skeenah Creek (11.4 miles, 2030’).
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/

    Turning east on GA-60 for approximately ¼ mile is a store. At this store, “Martin’s Dixie Depot” are a pay phone, cold soft drinks, a short order grill with breakfast and lunch menu items like ham biscuits or hamburgers and BBQ sandwiches, a hardware store, short term food supplies, and some camping equipment though mostly car-camping stuff. The staff are friendly and hospitable mountain folk. Don’t be intimidated by the numerous in-your-face signs decorating the outside of the store or the staff uniform of rebel flag caps.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/

    As you walk to the store, you’ll see that Skeenah Creek passes a farm with free-range chickens roaming along the creek. Aren’t you glad you didn’t get a drink from that stream? If you need water and aren’t going to the store, cross the road and within a quarter mile or so on the trail you’ll be beside a small creek.

    Section 3: GA-60 to Long Creek Falls (10.8 miles).
    This section, which runs concurrent with the Benton MacKaye Trail for its entire length, is the most heavily used portion of the Duncan Ridge Trail. Many locals go to the Taccoa River Bridge (reachable by high-clearance vehicles on a FS road), and many Scout groups also camp at the bridge. Weekends can draw fairly large crowds to the bridge area. Fortunately there is a beautiful, secluded campsite at Bryson Gap, less than 3 miles from the bridge.

    The trail between GA-60 and the Taccoa River is over Tooni Mtn (2720’), really just a long ridge. The trail has been extensively relocated in several places since this sign was installed. The distances to the places listed are now probably a bit longer, but not by more than a quarter-mile or so.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/


    The Taccoa River bridge (3.5 miles, 1900’), the highlight of this section, is 260 feet long.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh...cat/578/page/5

    On the south side of the bridge, a small stream enters the river. That stream, not the river, is your water source.

    After the bridge comes a long climb to regain the ridge. It crosses a closed road at Sapling Gap (5..4 miles, 2780’), then follows the ridge to the lower slopes of Big John Dick Mountain. Big John Dick and Little John Dick are the only mountains I’ve seen in this area that have both a first and a last name! I mean, there’s not “John Springer Mountain” or “Bill Justus Moutain”, but we have both Big and Little “John Dick Mountain”. Wonder why?

    The trail doesn’t go over Big John’s mountain, it wraps around it. So climbing up Big John’s Mtn isn’t really that hard, it doesn’t rise much, the climb isn’t too stiff, you could say the trail just limps around the mountain. Or you might not. Anyway, a nice sidehill trail leads to Bryson Gap (6.3 miles, 2780’) where there is water and a beautiful grassy tent site with a well-constructed fire ring surrounded by stone and log seats.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh...sort/1/cat/578
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh...cat/578/page/1

    Leaving Bryson Gap, the trail passes by the lower slopes of Little John Dick Mountain and regains the ridge where it again starts the no-switchback up and down climb and drop routine for which the DRT is famous.

    On about the 5th mountaintop from Bryson there are several sets of grave-sized piles of rocks. These look similar to Indian graves I’ve seen in other places, but several locals have assured me that they are more likely piles of rocks cleared from fields during the time when these mountains were farmed.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh...sort/1/cat/578

    The summit of the last mountain before Long Creek has been cleared and planted in grass and clover for wildlife. There is a view of Springer mountain to the south.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/

    Dropping off the mountain, the trail soon joins a small creek that eventually flows into Long Creek. Many small waterfalls, each singing its own melody, makes this portion of the trail a shaded, musical stroll through a beautiful rhododendron thicket. The DRT ends at the junction of the AT and Benton Mackaye Trails. The Benton Mac and the AT continue south on occasionally intersecting paths to Springer.
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/

    Side Trip: Turning north on the AT for approximately half a mile, towards Hawk Mtn, you will come to a gravel road. Take a left on the road for 150 yards and you’ll see a covered picnic pavilion, and perhaps the strangest sight – a home made merry-go-round! Sit on the yellow tractor seats welded to the ends of the horizontal pipes, hold onto the handlebars, and give yourself a ride!
    https://whiteblaze.net/gallery/sh.../cat/578/page/

    So that’s the Duncan Ridge Trail: A roller-coaster walk with a merry-go-round waiting at the end!

    ---Dances with Mice.
    Last edited by Dances with Mice; 05-05-2005 at 08:31.
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  7. #7
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Update: At this time the 4 miles of sidehill trail between White Oak Stomp and Bryant Gap no longer exist. That portion of the trail is unsafe. Walk FS road 39 between WOS and Bryant Gap.

    Bryant will be recognizable by a wide gravel parking area on the south side of FS 39. There is a large bulletin board with nothing but bullet holes beside the parking area. Blue blazes and the trail will be visible on the north side of FS 39 with one tree marked in blue paint with an arrow pointing across the road and a circled "W". The water is about a quarter mile or more down an abandoned road in back of the parking area.
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  8. #8
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Default DRT Guide - Illustrated

    Let's try this again, with pictures.

    But first, to answer a common question, the best map of the DRT is the "Guide to North Georgia Wildlife Management Areas" published by Atlantic Mapping, Inc. www.fishinggpsmaps.com, 770-426-5768. It's sold at many gas stations in the area and at Atlanta Wal-Marts, in their sporting goods section.

    The DuncanRidge Trail is a blue-blazed trail connecting the Appalachian Trail and the Benton MacKaye Trail in Georgia.

    The ‘sections’ below are entirely arbitrary. I just hooked up trail terminus points with major road crossings, then major road crossings to each other. The description is clockwise, starting at the DRT-AT intersection on the south side of Blood Mtn.

    Section 1 – DRT Terminus at Blood Mtn to Wolf Pen Gap (2.3 miles)
    Just a short stretch between the eastern trailhead and the first road crossing.

    The DRT terminus was moved to the base of Blood Mountain when the AT was relocated around Slaughter Gap. It is about 1 mile from its junction with the AT to the sign just west of Slaughter Gap at an intersection of several trails. The DRT is concurrent with the Coosa Backcountry Trail for most of this section.

    This sign marks the ‘old’ terminus of the
    DuncanRidge Trail near Slaughter Gap. The terminus was relocated after the AT was relo’d to bypass Slaughter.

    From the above sign it is about 1.3 miles to Wolf Pen Gap. The trail traverses across the flat, fern covered peak of Slaughter Mountain (4140 feet) then drops sharply through hardwoods and scrub brush to Wolf Pen Gap (3260 feet). A paved road, GA-128, crosses the trail here. Ready to bail out yet?

    Wolf Pen Gap – The view is looking south from the east side of GA -180. Water is available where the road curves in the background, on the west side of GA-180.

    Campsites beside a stream are behind and downhill from this sign on the east side of GA-180. It will, rather obviously, be a bit of a bushwhack at first, then the old roadbed clears. GA-180 gets lots of motorcycle traffic on the weekends. Walk back a bit to get away from most of the noise.

    Section 2 – Wolf Pen Gap to Mulky Gap (9.1 miles)
    This section runs mostly along the northern edge of the Cooper Creek Wildlife Management Area. The DRT shares the same path as the Coosa Backcountry Trail from Wolf Pen Gap to near the top of Coosa Bald. At Wolf Pen Gap a gravel Forest Service Road (FS-39) parallels the
    ridge and the DRT until Bryant Gap. The DRT will intersect this road several times but will not cross it. Mulky Gap is crossed by an all-weather gravel Forest Service Road, FS-4.

    From Wolf Pen Gap, the climb up Wildcat Mountain (3840’) is long. It goes over a shoulder of the mountain then sidehill across the mountain’s slope. Just when you might believe the trail will bypass the mountain, the trail turns and climbs right to the summit. The downhill on the west side of Wildcat is easy! The trail intersects and follows FS-39 road at Wildcat Gap (3180’) for approximately 30 yards before beginning the climb to Coosa Bald. I looked for a spring near Wildcat Gap but did not find one.

    The trail up the west side of Coosa Bald is an old road that, evidently, still gets some ORV traffic. The trail is rough, rocky, and not very pretty.

    The Coosa Backcountry Trail turns away from the DRT a few hundred yards from the Coosa Summit. Yellow birch trees grow around the Coosa Bald summit (2.9 miles from Wolf Pen Gap, 4270’ elevation). This is the southernmost limit of the yellow birch’s range. There are some large ones near the survey marker at the summit. The tree is recognizable by its twisted branches, peeling bark, and light yellow foliage.

    The trail passes close to the rocky summit of Coosa Bald then drops straight down the
    ridge to White Oak Stomp. White Oak Stomp (3.8 miles, 3460’) is on the west side of Coosa Bald, where the DRT intersects FS-39. The trail is an old road bed that is blocked by the large rock. After walking on the beaten footpaths of the AT and Coosa Backcountry Trails, the DRT is a soft carpet by comparison. Notice the grass growing in the footpath. In Spring, parts of the DRT are covered by wild violets.
    There is a spring directly across the road and approximately 150 yards downhill. It’s easy to find – across the road you’ll see a small valley sloping away from the road. The spring is in the middle of the valley. The spring originates at the root base of a blown down tree.

    Now that you know about this spring, carefully consider this: There are water sources on either side of the Coosa/Wildcat Mountains climb! There is no need to carry a lot of water over these two mountains! If you’re headed westbound the next water source is over 5 miles away, plan accordingly. If you’re headed eastbound, you’ll need water but there’s no need to carry more than enough for an hour’s worth of hiking until you get to Wolf Pen Gap. This is valuable information! Use it.

    Leaving White Oak Stomp, there is a sidehill walk around Buckeye Knob (5.5 miles, 3820’) before a long drop into Buckeye Gap (6.5 miles, 3280’) where you’ll see FS-39 again.

    Next is an extremely narrow sidehill trail across a steep slope overlooking farms in the valley below. The trail drops into Bryant Gap (7.1 miles, 3250’) where you’ll see FS-39 for the last time.


    Across the road from Bryant Gap –used- to be an old FS road that led about a quarter mile to a stream. Recent road construction on FS-39 has obliterated this road. I suppose you could bushwhack back and find the spring. But you shouldn’t need water here because you found the spring at White Oak Stamp, right?

    A sharp climb out of Bryant Gap leads up to Buck Knob (3460), a drop to a small gap (7.9 miles, 3380’) then a short climb to West Wildcat Knob (8.2 miles, 3500’). There must have been a lot of wildcats in these mountains at one time, that makes two ‘Wildcats’ in 8 miles! After this Wildcat, there is a nicely switchbacked drop into Mulky Gap (9.1 miles, 2780’) , where FS-4 crosses the trail.

    There are campsites and a spring down a gated road on the west side of Mulky Gap. Follow the road approximately 250 yards, where the road dips. The springs are to the right. This is really just an area of water seeps that combine to form a small stream, you might have to follow the stream downhill a little ways to find a place deep enough to get water.

    Section 3 – Mulky Gap to GA-60 (11.4 miles)
    This section is the stretch that has earned the DRT its reputation. The trail stays on or very near the
    ridge, there are few switchbacks, and very few peaks along the ridge are bypassed. It is quite remote, being interrupted only by one dead-end Forest Service road at Fish Gap. The DRT joins the Benton MacKaye Trail for the last 4 miles or so. GA-60 is a paved road, the same road that the AT crosses at Woody Gap. The trail crossing is about 15 miles from Suches.

    You’ll start Akin and continue to Payne, mountain and knob, respectively. “Akin and Payne”, heh! Going west from Mulky, the next water source is over 4.5 miles away. Carry what you’ll need.

    West of FS-4, the long but gradual climb up Akin Mtn begins. Although all maps show the trail heading straight up the
    ridge, and the old trail route is still visible, the trail has been relocated with a series of long switchbacks to the south of the gap. There is a large patch of Ladyslipper orchids near the east base of Akin, near the road, that bloom in Spring. After summitting Akin (1.4 miles, 3530’),and dropping into a small gap, there is a short but steep climb to the top of Clements Mtn. (3500’).

    There will be another climb to the top of Fish Knob before, finally, a relatively long flat section around a cove into Fish Gap (3.5 miles, 3100’) where FS-28 deadends. The entire area between Mulky and Fish Gaps show signs of a fire. The trail to the east of Fish Gap has many dead rhododendrons killed by the fire.

    There is a gradual climb out of Fish Gap that follows a series of old Forest Service roads. Watch for direction changes in the trail, I’ve missed where the trail leaves one old roadbed and cuts across to another. The trail regains the
    ridge, rolls along it for awhile to about 3320’, then drops straight down into Sarvis Gap (4.6 miles, 3020’). A sign on a tree points to water, a good spring approximately 150 yards downstream. The next water source is about 3 miles away, but there’s a lot of climbs in between.


    Now the fun really starts! There are a series of major climbs from Sarvis Gap to Rhodes Mtn, including Payne Knob (5.1 miles, 3420’), Gregory Knob (5.9 miles, 3360’). There are signs of mining on the east side of Payne and a big trench dug on the western slope of Gregory. I believe mica was mined from these areas at one time. An old trench is to the left of my backpack and although the photo doesn’t show it, there are fist-sized chunks of mica laying all around.

    After Gregory, the DRT will climb over N-S
    ridge called Clingman’s Ridge. You can easily see the ridge as you approach it. There appears to be a jeep road near the ridge that still gets occasional use. In other words, there’s some trash in this area. Once over ther ridge, you'll drop down into Rhodes Gap (6.7 miles, 2980’)

    At the summit of Rhodes Mountain (7.1 miles, 3380) is a nice viewpoint. The summit is marked with a small cairn of rocks. Walk out on an exposed rock ledge to the north for a Kodak moment,


    After the DRT intersects the BMT downhill from Rhodes, it is about ½ mile to a campsite at the base of Licklog Mountain. Follow a trail, blazed with sloppy blue splashes on trees and orange surveyors tape to a spring.

    The campsite at Licklog Gap is marked by a fire ring in the middle of a small clearing. This is an important water stop, don’t miss it! The next water source is about 4 miles off. There is a tree with a faint “W” carved into the bark – not the best way to mark the way to water.


    There is another campsite on the Licklog summit (8.2 miles, 3472’). It is marked with an old metal fence post. Several of these fence posts are scattered along the DRT – I believe they were once used for orienteering practice by the Army Rangers.

    Then a long climb up to Walhalla! Coming down Walhalla Mtn (9.7 miles, 3100’) on the south side, is a nice view of the Taccoa River valley.


    Then there’s a long drop to Skeenah Creek and GA-60. A wooden footbridge crosses Skeenah Creek (11.4 miles, 2030’).
    Turning east on GA-60 for approximately ¼ mile is a store. At this store, “Martin’s Dixie Depot” are a pay phone, cold soft drinks, a short order grill with breakfast and lunch menu items like ham biscuits or hamburgers and BBQ sandwiches, a hardware store, short term food supplies, and some camping equipment though mostly car-camping stuff. The staff are friendly and hospitable mountain folk. Don’t be intimidated by the numerous in-your-face signs decorating the outside of the store or their rebel flag themed outfits


    As you walk to the store, you’ll see that Skeenah Creek passes a farm with free-range chickens roaming along the creek. Aren’t you glad you didn’t get a drink from that stream? If you need water and aren’t going to the store, cross the road and within a quarter mile or so on the trail you’ll be beside a small creek.

    Section 3: GA-60 to Long Creek Falls (10.8 miles).
    This section, which runs concurrent with the Benton MacKaye Trail for its entire length, is the most heavily used portion of the
    DuncanRidge Trail. Many locals go to the Taccoa River Bridge (reachable by high-clearance vehicles on a FS road), and many Scout groups also camp at the bridge. Weekends can draw fairly large crowds to the bridge area. Fortunately there is a beautiful, secluded campsite at Bryson Gap, less than 3 miles from the bridge.

    The trail between GA-60 and the Taccoa River is over Tooni Mtn (2720’), really just a long
    ridge. The trail has been extensively relocated in several places since this sign was installed. The distances to the places listed are now probably a bit longer, but not by more than a quarter-mile or so.
    The trail climbs very gradually through a mature hardwood forest to the ridge. Once atop the ridge it rolls along with a few short ups and downs until a long, winding switchback drops to the river. The Taccoa River bridge (3.5 miles, 1900’), the highlight of this section, is 260 feet long.


    On the south side of the bridge, a small stream enters the river. That stream, not the river, is your water source. You think the chickens upstream of Skeenah Creek were bad? There’s lots of cows upstream of the Taccoa.

    After the bridge comes a long, steep climb to regain the
    ridge. It crosses a closed road at Sapling Gap (5..4 miles, 2780’), then follows the ridge to the lower slopes of Big John Dick Mountain. Big John Dick and Little John Dick are the only mountains I’ve seen in this area that have both a first and a last name! I mean, there’s not “John Springer Mountain” or “Bill Justus Moutain”, but we have both Big and Little “John Dick Mountain”. Wonder why?

    The trail doesn’t go over Big John’s mountain, it wraps around it. So climbing up Big John’s Mtn isn’t really that hard, it doesn’t rise much, the climb isn’t too stiff, you could say the trail just limps around the mountain. Or you might not. Anyway, a nice sidehill trail leads to Bryson Gap (6.3 miles, 2780’) where there is water and a beautiful grassy tent site with a fire ring surrounded by stone and log seats.

    Leaving Bryson Gap, the trail passes by the lower slopes of Little John Dick Mountain and regains the
    ridge where it again starts the no-switchback up and down climb and drop routine for which the DRT is famous. These climbs aren’t as intense as the ones north of GA-60, you’re just rolling along a long ridge again.

    The summit of the last mountain before Long Creek has been cleared and planted in grass and clover for wildlife. There is a view of Springer mountain to the south. NOTE: During hunting seasons – both the spring turkey season and the fall deer season, make some noise when approaching this clearing.

    Dropping off the mountain, the trail soon joins a small creek that eventually flows into Long Creek. Many small waterfalls, each singing its own melody, makes this portion of the trail a shaded, musical stroll through a beautiful rhododendron thicket. The DRT ends at the junction of the AT and Benton Mackaye Trails. The Benton Mac and the AT continue south on occasionally intersecting paths to Springer.

    ---Dances with Mice.

    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  9. #9
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Update and corrections. My last trail guide describes the trail counter-clockwise. If you can now trust a directionally challenged trail guide author, continue reading.

    The GATC has taken over responsibility for maintenance of the DRT. The GATC will do maintenance to keep the trail open - blazing, signing, clearing blowdowns and weed whacking - but will not maintain the trail to the same standards as their portion of the AT. It's a wilderness trail. It will be adequately but not abundantly blazed. Relos or additional switchbacks aren't going to happen. Shelters or privies? Forget about it.

    The trail is now (this date) cleared of all blowdowns for its entire length. The trail is blazed with new plastic blazes set with nails designed to allow tree growth without swallowing the blaze or harming the tree. Some new signs at trail intersections or road crossings have been installed - at the Benton Mac intersection and at Mulky Gap, for example. The road leading to water is directly behind the new "Duncan Ridge Trail" sign.

    Today I walked Fish Gap to the Benton Mac intersection near Rhodes Mtn. Here's news you can use:

    The water sign at Sarvis Gap is no more. There is no sign pointing the way to water. Where the sign used to be is now just a collection of nails in a tree. Water is about 200 yards to the north, walk down the northern slope (opposite direction of the farmland view side of the ridge) and look for a place that seems like a stream should be there. A line of vegetation in a depression running downhill is a good clue. You'll find it. The spring is flowing at this time.

    Speaking of Sarvis Gap, continuing counter-clockwise from there the next mountains are: Payne Knob (it really is a pain), Gregory Mtn (with an old pit mine on the downhill flank), then you'll climb over a ridge running across the Duncan Ridge. That's all as described in the guide. Imagine my surprise when I found yet another mountain between that ridge and Rhodes Mtn. I don't know who put it there but I'd like to strangle them. I don't know the name of the mountain. It's about as high and steep as Payne or Gregory. I was not amused.

    This portion of the trail is in good shape. Pay attention to blazes, double blaze means the trail turns. The lead hiker in our maintenance crew walked off in the wrong direction once when he missed a turn.

    And this is a good time to mention that a map and compass shouldn't be considered optional gear on the DRT.
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  10. #10

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    Many thanks DWM.

  11. #11

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    Great information!!!! This is a big help in planning this hike in October!
    Thanks
    Moses

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodmountainman View Post
    Great information!!!! This is a big help in planning this hike in October!
    Thanks
    That would be deer/bear season, wear some orange.

  13. #13
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dances with Mice View Post
    The water sign at Sarvis Gap is no more. There is no sign pointing the way to water. Where the sign used to be is now just a collection of nails in a tree. Water is about 200 yards to the north, walk down the northern slope (opposite direction of the farmland view side of the ridge) and look for a place that seems like a stream should be there. A line of vegetation in a depression running downhill is a good clue. You'll find it. The spring is flowing at this time.
    Uh, I guess that's another directionally challenged description. The spring is south rather than north of the trail. Away from the steep drop with a view of the farms in the valley.

    Oh, forget the directions. The take-away information is that there is a spring at Sarvis Gap. When you get there think "If I were a spring, where would I be?" Then walk there. Can't miss it.
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by take-a-knee View Post
    That would be deer/bear season, wear some orange.
    I intend this to be a hunting - hike. This trail is close to home and I'll find a way to retrieve any game taken.
    Moses

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodmountainman View Post
    I intend this to be a hunting - hike. This trail is close to home and I'll find a way to retrieve any game taken.
    We need to hook up. This sounds like an adventure.

  16. #16
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodmountainman View Post
    I intend this to be a hunting - hike. This trail is close to home and I'll find a way to retrieve any game taken.
    You can skip the Mulky Gap to Benton Mackay portion then.

    There's only one animal stupid enough to follow that path.
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  17. #17
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    A couple of photos of the GATC clearing the DRT.

    Before.

    After.

    That soft, leaf-covered path in the "After" photo is the trail. It ain't the AT.
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  18. #18
    Registered User Egads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dances with Mice View Post
    Oh, forget the directions. The take-away information is that there is a spring at Sarvis Gap. When you get there think "If I were a spring, where would I be?" Then walk there. Can't miss it.
    I'll bet you are a hoot to hike with too.

    DWM, thanks for all your hard work.

    Egads
    The trail was here before we arrived, and it will still be here when we are gone...enjoy it now, and preserve it for others that come after us

  19. #19
    Doting Membrane Skidsteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Egads View Post
    I'll bet you are a hoot to hike with too.

    DWM, thanks for all your hard work.

    Egads
    That's an understatement.
    Skids

    Insanity: Asking about inseams over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)

  20. #20
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Egads View Post
    DWM, thanks for all your hard work.
    Thank the GATC. On this trip I just rolled logs out of the way and carried gas for the chainsaws. I tried to get the sawyers to top off their tanks as often as possible.

    So I just rolled logs and passed gas.
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

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