Horsetrough Mtn, W4G/NG-009 10 pts

Drive Guide - Horsetrough Mountain From Atlanta

  • Caution: There is a dead ringer for the trailhead at 5.5 miles from GA-75A. You haven’t reached the trailhead unless you’ve driven 8 miles. USFS-44C is marked in 2021. At the 5.5 mile impostor, you park immediately adjacent to the creek. Not so at USFS-44C. There is also a gate on CRR just past 44C but not at the impostor.
  • Duration: 2:20
    • 1:40 from Perimeter Mall to Chattahoochee UMC. 0:40 from UMC to USFS-44C.
  • Google Maps URL from Brookhaven: https://tinyurl.com/horsetrough2

    • WARNING: Google Maps matches up poorly with reality on the ground after leaveing 75A.
  • Seasonal/Limited Access:

    • Call FS Chatooga River District office at 706-754-6221 and ask if FS-44 is open to Vandiver Fields (FS-44C). Or phrase it as “Is Chattahoochee River Road is open all the way through from GA-75A to Unicoi Gap?” This road frequently washes out or has deadfalls.
    • USFS-44C: You’ll begin your hike by walking up this road. If you have 4WD, the gate is reportedly open 20 days a year ( related to hunting seasons). This road is known as Poplar Stump Rd, but there’s another Poplar Stump Rd on this route.
  • Road Notes:

    • I drove Chattahoochee River Road from the south end to Unicoi Gap in a Corolla in January 2021. (Parts were dicey.)
      • From Chattahoochee UMC (the south end) to USFS 44C = 8.1 miles, 42 minutes
      • From USFS 44C to Unicoi Gap (the north end) = 5.7 miles, 30 minutes
      • It is a 12 minute drive from the UMC to Unicoi gap, so if you’re coming from Atlanta it takes the drive time either way, but coming from Unicoi has less dirt road driving. Driving the opposite direction could take different time.
  • Directions:
    • N on GA-400 and go 47 miles.
    • At end of 400 (@ GA-60) go straight onto GA-115. Go 4.8
    • GA-115 turns R. (About 60 minute drive to this turn.) Go 11.4.
    • L on Tesnatee Gap Valley Rd. There’s a left turn lane. Go 2.8.
    • Go straight onto McAfee Rd. (Tesnatee turns left.) Go 0.2
    • L on US-129 N at T. (About 1:15 total drive time to this turn.) Go 0.8.
    • R on GA-75A. Go 7.9. (Pass Richard B Russell Scenic Hwy at 1:25 from trip start.)
    • Chattahoochee River Rd:
      • L on Poplar Stump Rd (a.k.a. Chattahoochee River Rd) at Chattahoochee United Methodist Church. (1:30 driving to here.)
        • Go straight for 4.3 miles.
          • Follow the river for first 2.8 miles. At 2.9 miles, there’s an un-manned visitor center. No facilities.
        • At Low Gap Creek Campground, the road turns R, crosses a bridge, and becomes USFS-44.
        • Campground was open 2013.04.06 and closed 2016.03.05.
        • 2.3 miles after you turned right, the road forks. Keep right. Left fork is gated.
      • 1.6 miles past the fork, the road turns sharply right and is sometimes gated. You’re at 44C (a.k.a. Poplar Stump Rd) and just past Vandiver Branch. The Forest Service calls this area “Vandiver Fields.” Many park-by-the-road campers in the spring.
  • Food

    • Last McDonalds: GA-400 at GA-53 (38 miles north of I-285). Miss it and you can go to 1550 S MAIN ST, Cleveland, adding 5 minutes.

Drive Guide - Wildcat Mountain to USFS 44C Trailhead

  • Duration: 55 minutes, 17.5 miles
  • Turn left from parking lot onto GA-348 and go 7.0
  • Left on GA-75A and go 2.2
  • Continue at “Chattahoochee River Rd” heading above.

Drive Guide - USFS 44C Trailhead to Atlanta

  • The southern route:
    • Go right from USFS 44C and go 1.6
    • Gated road merges from right. You keep left (really just continuing on same road). Go 2.0
    • Twin-track merges from right. Go 4.3
    • Right on GA-75A
    • Left on US-129 and go 2.2
    • R on Cleveland Bypass and go 1.6
    • R on GA-115 South and go 11.7
    • L on GA-115 South and continue onto GA-400

Trail Guide

  • Navigation Via USFS-44C From Vandiver Fields:
    • Duration: 2:10 – about 3 miles. 2.4 trail miles and 0.6 bushwhack. Elevation gain = 1509’.
      • Gain 865 ft on road/trail to Poplar Stomp Gap + brief stretch on AT – 2.4 miles @ 865 ft @ 1:15
        • It is a continuous, moderate climb; not too taxing. From the fire brake to the barrier (end of 4WD access), it is a smooth surface, covered with short grass, and is beautiful.
      • 0.7 bushwhack gaining 625 ft @ 0:55
      • Note: The hike down took LONGER. 2:20 total. It was a rough bushwhack (1:10) because I kept drifting west, which wore me out.
    • Starting altitude = 2510’ (Calibrate GPS altimeter)
    • Follow dirt road/trail to Poplar Stomp Gap
    • North on the AT 0.15 miles
    • Bushwhack north up the ridge to the summit of Horsetrough Mountain.
    • Note: Coming down the mountain, do NOT drift west. The terrain will cause you to drift west, making the route tougher.
  • Navigation From Richard B. Russel Highway to Wide Gap (Not Tested. Are you nuts?!):
    • Estimated Duration: 3:30 up, 5.7 miles (one way), 1719’ elevation gain.
      • Climbs from 2300 at trailhead to 3167 at Wide Gap, gaining 867’ in 1.4 miles. Maybe 1:00 if navigable trail all the way.
      • 3.3 miles along AT from Wide Gap to Poplar Stomp Gap, gaining 160’ (with 1155’ of climb including ups and downs). 1:30, based on GPS from prior hike.
      • 1.0 miles from Poplar Stomp Gap up to the summit, gaining 890’. 1:00 based on prior activations.
    • Park at Richard B Russel Highway at 34.750311, -83.846654. 2300’ elevation.
      • There is clearly SUV parking on the south side of the road.
      • From Google Maps ‘street view’ it APPEARS one can park a sedan on the grassy shoulder.
    • On the north side of the road, there is a road-goes-right-then-left sign. Just past it is a very minor dirt road with overhanging trees.
    • Hike northeast, up this road to 34.750311, -83.846654, about 0.4 miles.
    • Bear right (due east) on Chattahoochee Trail for about 1.0 miles.
    • Chattahoochee Trail looks like it meets the AT at Wide Gap at 34.755435, -83.828123, elevation 3167’.
    • From Wide Gap, it is 3 miles on the AT to Poplar Stomp Gap
  • Navigation From Jacks Gap: (Pat did this)
    • Distance: 4.2 miles, 3 hours. Elevation gain: 1070’.
      • Jack’s Gap to Chattahoochee Gap: 2.2 miles, 647’ gain, 994’ in climbs including ups and downs. 1:20 measured.
      • Chattahoochee Gap to Cold Springs Gap: 1.1 miles, 136’ elevation loss, 220’ climb including ups and downs, 0:20 meausred.
      • Cold Spring Gap bushwhack to summit: 0.9 miles per Pat, 744’ gain, estimated 1:15.
  • GPS Failure Return:
    • Head due south from summit. Stay on the ridge line. The ridge makes a brief, slight turn toward the east, but other than that it is due south.
    • Keep the drop-off to your left in sight in order to avoid drifting.
    • Staying on the ridge ensures you meet AT at Poplar Stomp Gap.
  • Trailhead altitude: 2510’ @ parking for 44C @ N34.78274 W83.78916
  • Summit altitude: 4060’. Helen Georgia is 1447’. Summit is 10 degrees cooler.
  • GPS tracks/waypoints:
    • Trailhead @ USFS-44C and Chattahoochee River Rd = 34.78262, -83.78914
    • As you climb USFS-44C, you’ll come to a fire break to your left at 34.7834, -83.8001. There’s the fire break to your left, 44C to your right, and a short road in the middle. Stay right here.
    • Stay left. (Faint trail goes to right.) = 34.79172, -83.81113
    • Poplar Stomp Rd meets AT = 34.78965, -83.81346
    • Start bushwhack about 34.79225, -83.81177
    • Bushwhack trail bears left (half-way point): 34.79661, -83.81099
    • Summit: 34.80200, -83.81210
  • Alternate route from Jacks Gap (GA-180) is 4.1 AT miles and 0.8 bushwhack. (Pat refers to this as the ‘reliable route’.)
  • Alternate route from Unicoi Gap via AT is 5.4 AT miles and 0.8 bushwhack (one way).
  • Alternate route from Hogpen Gap is 5.8 AT miles and 0.8 bushwhack.

Summit Guide

  • Hang antenna from tree, guy a mast, or bungee to a tree.
  • Cell coverage (2021): AT&T SMS+data from summit with data; SMS at Poplar Stomp Gap.
  • Area repeaters:
    • W4NGT - 147.210 (input 147.810 PL=100.0) Blairsville, GA
    • W9QXW 146.955 (input 146.355 PL=100.0) Blairsville, GA W9QXW