Big Fodderstack: Drive to Trailhead & Trail Guide

  • CAUTION: The last 200 yards of this hike are in dense rhododendron. I had to crawl on hands and knees, and I lost some equipment. I will never attempt this trip again without saw, pruning shears, or other trail-clearing equipment! Do not attempt this trip unless you can handle an extremely difficult bushwhack after a 3.8 mile hike, climbing 2400 feet.

  • Please: Just take another trip. This one isn’t worth the pain. I was still recovering a week later.

Drive Guide - Big Fodderstack

  • Duration: 3:25 (158 miles)
  • Google Maps URL from Ashford Dunwoody Rd and I-285 at 33.91998, -84.33898: http://goo.gl/maps/LrnRT
  • Seasonal/Limited Access: Unknown
  • Directions:
    • I-285 W
    • I-75 N
    • I-575 / GA-5 N and go 72 miles
    • L on GA-5 N in Blue Ridge, GA and go 10.2
    • L on GA-60 / TN-68 and go 36.4 * Careful: TN-68 forks left in about 13 miles. I missed this fork in March of 2014.
    • R on Cherohala Skyway (TN-165) and go 14.3
    • L on Indian Boundary Rd (USFS-345)(paved turn) and go 1.2
    • R on Indian Boundary Rd (turns to dirt) and go 3.9 * Sign: “Citico Creek”. USFS-35-1. * Drive @25 MPH when wet, all the way to trailhead. * Gate at start of this road. It was open on March 30, 2014.
    • Cross stream and R on Doublecamp Creek Rd (following creek) (USFS-2659) and go 2.6
      • Pit toilets and Doublecamp Creek Recreation area at turn.
      • Note: Continue past false trailhead for trail 100 at 2.4 with plenty parking.
    • Trailhead is on R, just after crossing the 2nd bridge near the end of the route.
      • Park in wide spot in the road. Room for 2 small cars.
  • Food
    • Last McDonalds: Blue Ridge, GA, on the corner where GA-5 turns L
    • Penultimate McDonalds: Ellijay, GA, on L
    • Dinner

Trail Guide

  • Note: Timings were made on a snowy hike outbound and moving fast with no break inbound (due to risk of being out after dark).

  • Duration Outbound: 5:00 (3.8 trail miles + 200 yard bushwhack, climbing 2400 feet)
    • 2:40 (2.6 miles) Trailhead to Big Stack Gap
    • 0:55 (0.8 miles) Big Stack Gap to Jct 95, 2, 99 (end of Pine Ridge Trail)
    • 0:35 (0.4 miles) Jct 95, 2, 99 to begin bushwhack
    • 0:50 (0.1 miles) Bushwhack 200 yards
  • Duration Inbound: 3:10
  • Navigation
    • Trail FS-96, on R (south), just after crossing Mill Branch
      • Summary: Follow Mill Branch to Big Stack Gap @2.5, R to Pine Ridge Trl, L up peak.
    • @1.0 - The big creek crossing. (There are lesser crossings at 0.7 and 0.8
      • Barely crossable with dry feet if you have good, over the ankle boots.
    • @2.6 - Trail intersection at Big Stack Gap. Turn RIGHT.
    • @3.2 - Pine Ridge trail goes to right. You go LEFT.
      • Fodderstack is in front of you, after your left.
    • @3.8 - Last chance to bushwhack to summit. Somewhat past summit, but gentler ridge slope.
  • Trailhead altitude: 1876 at Mill Branch trailhead
  • Summit altitude: 4346 (SOTA) or 4334 (Garmin) or 4946 (USGS topo)
  • GPS tracks/waypoints:
    • Trailhead: 35.43138,-84.05898 (at Mill Branch)
    • Cross Mill Branch: 35.42447,-84.04602
    • Big Stack Gap: 35.41943, 84.02504 (Turn R)
    • Pine Ridge Trail Jct: 35.41408, -84.02987 (Turn L)
    • Summit: 35.4123, -84.0274

Summit Guide

  • Hang antenna from tree: No
  • Space to guy mast: Not really. Just push it up through the rhododendron.
  • Cell coverage: VZN marginal; AT&T none; APRS marginal
  • Unique features: Dense rhododendron. Miserable, intense bushwhack.

Plan-B Candidates

  • Hemlock Knob (Bushwhack up from Cherohala Skyway)
  • Stratton Bald (via Wolf Laurel Rd)