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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.