Cowpen: Drive & Trail Guide, W4G/HC-001

Drive Guide - Cowpen from Atlanta

  • Duration
    • Western approach: 2:15 from Atlanta; 50 minutes from the square in downtown Ellijay
    • Eastern approach: 2:30 from Atlanta
  • Google Maps URL from Atlanta (33.917, -84.3378):
    • Western approach: https://tinyurl.com/atlanta-elijay-cowpen
    • Eastern approach: https://tinyurl.com/atlanta-cowpen
  • Seasonal/Limited Access:
    • Found a seasonal gate closed on USFS-64 at 34.86457, -84.51989 (eastern route) and at 34.84140, -84.59441 (western route). Gates close Jan 3; reopen “mid-March”
    • Approach from west is a little quicker, but road from the east was better maintained in 2013.
    • March 15, 2014, both the east and west routes were in good shape.
  • Directions (western approach):
    • I-285 W, I-75 N, I-575 N
    • GA-5 N. Go 55.6 miles.
    • L on 1st Ave.
      • (1st traffic light after Ingles/McDonalds.)
      • Go 500 ft. Cross the bridge.
    • L on River St - a.k.a. GA-52. Go 1 mile.
    • Ellijay downtown roundabout. Stay on 52. Go 5.0
    • R on Gates Chapel Rd. (Cohutta Self-storage sign.) Go 5.2.
    • Bear R on Wilderness Trail. (Google calls it Wilderness Rd. Becomes FS90) Go 1.5.
      • When you come to Pinhoti trail intersection #1, keep R to stay on FS90.
      • When you come to Pinhoti trail intersection #2, keep L to stay on FS90.
      • These were well-marked when I drove it, but sometimes signs come down…
    • Hairpin R onto FS 68 (a.k.a. Conasauga Rd), go 3.3.
    • R on Conasauga Lake Rd (FS 64) at T with sign to E. Cowpen Trail #30, and go 4.2.
      • Note: This T shows up in my directions to multiple summits; I call it as the “Conasauga T”.
      • It takes 30 minutes to drive from Ellijay square to Conasauga T.
      • It takes 20 minutes to drive from Conasauga T to Cowpen Mountain trailhead.
    • Park in gravel lot on sharp turn
  • Food
    • Last McDonalds: Ellijay (East Ellijay).
    • Penultimate McDonalds: Jasper.
    • Dinner
      • Poole’s Barbecue “Pig Hill” at 164 Craig Street, Ellijay. Closes at 7/8/8/6, Thur/Fri/Sat/Sun.
      • The barbecue place in Blue Ridge with billboards directing you to turn at Wendy’s has dry, taste-free pulled pork.

Drive Guide - Cowpen from Dyer Cemetery

  • Drive south (toward 64A side road to Flat Top) on USFS-64 for 5.1 miles. Parking on right, just as road makes sharp left. Parking is just over the crest of a rise; you can’t see it until you’re right by it.

Trail Guide

  • Duration:
    • Flat route: 1:30 (1.7 miles; 635 ft climb). 0:40 descent
    • Short route: 0:50 (1.3 miles; 635 ft climb). 0:40 descent (0:25 if you run)
  • Navigation
    • Trail is FT-30. East Cowpen Trail, heading north.
    • At 0.4 miles, FT-12 (Rough Ridge) branches to right, and is NOT our trail.
    • From this point, the ridge crest will be to your left.
    • Short Route
      • At 34.89306, -84.57474, there is a draw to your left. Follow it up to the ridge.
      • Once you reach the ridge you are in the activation zone.
      • If desired, turn left and follow the ridge to the high point; if you do, foliage is less dense on the near (east) edge of the ridge. Summit is indistinct.
    • Flat Route
      • At about 1.3 miles, sharp turn to left, heading south, is final approach to summit.
      • You have hiked PAST the summit, to a gap. Now you bushwhack up the ridge crest to the summit. Not a tough bushwhack in early March, except there are some briars. It might be worse in the green season.
      • Summit at 1.7 miles. Summit is indistinct.
  • GPS Failure Return Route: (either route) Head due east until you meet the trail; turn right on trail.
  • Trailhead altitude: 3506’ @ trailhead
  • Summit altitude: 4151’
  • GPS tracks/waypoints:
    • Trailhead: 34.88086, -84.56537
    • Rough Ridge Trail (#12) branches: 34.88519, -84.57066
    • Short Bushwhack Start: 34.89306, -84.57474
    • Flat Bushwhack Start: 34.89441, -84.57639
    • Summit: 34.8898, -84.5741. Grid square: EM74rv

Summit Guide

  • Hang antenna from tree: Yes
  • Space to guy mast: Yes.
  • Cell coverage: ATT=Marginal. Verizon unable to send SMS.
  • Unique features: None.

Plan-B Candidates

  • Bald Mountain W4G/HC-003 or Grassy Mountain W4G/HC-007. . Go other way (left) at Conasauga T.