Off the Beaten Path
Join me on an adventure. Where will we go today?
Looking for Jack’s River Falls hiking trail, my friend and I stopped to stretch our legs at Conasauga River Trail #61 and to take advantage of the facilities. Looking at the map, we saw that the trail is 5.1 miles round trip with at least a 20% grade with a difficult intermediate rating.
We decided to venture down the trail because the start crosses a charming wooden bridge and parallels the river on what appears to be an old logging road.
The River Trail is part of the Cohutta Wilderness. Cohutta is an old Cherokee word for frog, appropriate since the area we were in sat at the foot of Big Frog Mountain. The entrance had a small beach, perfect for children to play in the fast-moving water with some shelter from the current. I plan to take the grandchildren there while the weather is still warm because the water is cold.
One swimming hole appeared very deep, and later I saw where the Ocoee White Water Rafting Center offered snorkeling activities before it burned.
The views of the water were easy to see from the hiking trail. We did not hike the entire trail as the trail crossed the water, and we were unprepared. Part of the trail is rocky and uneven, but most of the part we traveled is easy to traverse. We unintendedly found a lovely, challenging hiking trail for another wonderful day off the beaten path.
Directions from the National Park Service:From Interstate-75 to Cleveland, TN exit #20 (Cleveland by-pass). Take the bypass 6.5 miles to US 64 east (towards Ocoee); follow US 64 8 miles to Hwy 411. Turn right (south) onto 411. Travel 6.7 miles on US 411 and turn left onto TN 313 at the Marathon gas station (Ladd Springs Road which becomes Willis Springs Rd.). Travel 4 miles until the pavement ends, then bear right on gravel Forest Service Road 221 (Pea Vine/Sheeds Creek Rd). Continue for 4.7 miles as the road climbs and winds until you reach the Conasauga River Trail Head (#61) parking lot. Turn right into the parking area. Travel time from Chattanooga is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Climbs, winds, and gravel road are the important words in the directions. Please do not go in a low car. My Rogue was the perfect vehicle for the trip.