5 Days Backpacking Solo in the Cohutta Wilderness, Georgia: Hiking Through the Interior

In October, 2016, I spent five days backpacking alone through the interior of the Cohutta Wilderness in Georgia. This is my report.

On this trip, I brought a tarp, as opposed to a tent or a hammock. A lightweight tarp is my typical shelter while backpacking. I parked on the east side of the wilderness at Dally Gap. Trails covered: Jacks River Trail, Rough Ridge Trail, East Cowpen Trail, Panther Creek Trail, Hickory Creek Trail, Conasauga River Trail, Rice Camp Trail, Beech Bottom Trail. Total mileage: about 50-55 miles, not too crazy but with one 14-mile and one 18-mile day.

Trail notes are from the book “Hiking Trails of the Cohutta and Big Frog Wilderness,” by Tim Homan.

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Filmed with an Canon G7 X and a GoPro Hero 4 Silver; edited with Cyberlink Powerdirector 14.


I did all the music arrangement and production on this video myself, using my (somewhat outdated) Sonar 8.5 Producer Edition DAW software.

Speaking of music production, my SoundCloud account is here: The songs I write and share on SoundCloud are published under a Creative Commons license, and I make them free and available to use in any YouTube video. Please see the information on my SoundCloud page.


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  • That's a over nighter supply of food for me not 4 nights 🤣

  • Watching all your videos leaning so much still have away to go . Best jay

  • October 2016 was a really bad drought year…. we even had wildfires up in the wilderness that year.

  • Excellent video. Very informative training throughout the whole time

  • V K

    Hey man did you see anything interesting like related to Bigfoot/Sasquatch? Like large foot prints, Rocks being thrown at you, ape like noises ? I understand my question is ridiculous but I’m just curious haha.

  • Enjoyed this video. I live about 15 minutes from Dally gap. I’ve been hiking and fishing the cohutta wilderness with my uncle since I was about 4 yrs old. Jacks river falls, the gorge on jacks and rough creek are some of my favorite places to go. When I was in my teenage years you could walk those trails and fish for a week without running into anyone, but now they are well traveled. Thanks for sharing, I have a lot of great memories on those trails.

  • Bro, you are a beast! Great fun video. Watched all the way to the end

  • I look forward to your videos, I always enjoy them, Thank You.

  • Thanks for sharing. I like how you listed the trees that grow on each trail. Great content. I just subscribed. Happy hiking

  • Awesome video man! Georgia definitely have some beautiful places and a lot of great hikes. Thanks for sharing

  • I always take the one less traveled..

  • Great video! I just overnighted from the Beech Bottom trail and set up camp near the Rough Ridge trail junction with the Jacks River Trail. I'm new to the area and quickly falling in love with it.Like you, I didn't lay eyes on any bears, but saw scat and startled one about 30 yards up the trail and could hear it bashing off. Had to be a bear, I've jumped plenty of deer over the years and they are much more lightfooted. Anyway, digging your videos and they help me envision my own trips. Thank you.

  • When I map this out with Caltopo I get 40.8 miles…?

  • Great video, I like your food choices. The saturated fats in meat & cheese carry you longer than sugars & carbs. On a side note, I went up the Jack's River trail this week & discovered that north of the Rough Ridge trail junction the trail is covered by downed trees & dead falls for maybe a mile. It makes for a grueling hike experience.

  • I thoroughly enjoy your video's and your clear concise informative commentary.

  • Love the Cohutta Wilderness, nice video and music Evan.
    Have a great day and be safe out there

  • Great video Evan. Thanks for taking us along. My wife and I will be doing the Beach Bottom-Jacks River Trail here in the next couple of weeks. I'm so ready!

  • I live a couple hours away and I've day hiked most of these. This is a fantastic route, goals for a week off. And likewise, I've heard bears, seen their scat, but haven't yet laid eyes on one in the Cohutta.

  • Good loop. And going down Panther Creek is always a challenge. I've backpacked up it about 6 times but only down once—because my pack's always in the 70 lb range. Tricky with all those rocks.

    That Rough Ridge campsite at the bottom is one of my faves, and the trail itself is a tough haul UP. I always like to crap out in Crooked Dogwood Gap on Rough Ridge which has water.

    Rice Camp heading down is nice although the Jacks crossing in high water at the bottom of Rice Camp can be very difficult. Thanks for the vid.

  • Always enjoy your videos Evan. Congrats on completing the AT. Look forward to seeing you back out in the trails in Georgia.

  • Enjoyed the video. Keep up the good work. Be blessed

  • Dang. Another Evan Vid I had NOT SEEN. LUCKY ME. Ha-ha maybe just put them in numerical order or something so we can't miss another? I have learned more on Evan's video that all of the rest (and I used to subscribe to many) I have seen in the last two years. PCT CDT AT and all the rest put together. EXCELLENT

  • Hello Evan and/or anyone else with helpful input. I'm about to spend a week day hiking in the Cohutta wilderness and I'm wondering what kind of foot wear will be most suitable. Input?

  • Great trip!
    Fun to watch solo hiking. That looked beautiful. How much weight did you carry? Thanks for sharing your experience. DS

  • Evan, what kind of food do you plan on taking on AT are you going stoveless with high protein like this trip was. I notice alot of younger hikers eating things that nutritionally might not be the best & i wondered on a long hike what you thought?
    Also how much training are you doing for your AT hike like walk everyday the gym etc.
    Also are you still going w/o poles? Are you trying to do your AT hike in less days than most i.e.100 – 210 days? Are you starting late because of research? I noticed the Feb 1 starters had pretty awful weather. Thanks

  • FTK

    At 1:55 you say you parked at the Dally Gap trailhead on Forest Service Road 22-2. Are there actual parking spots there? I was just in that area recently but the road up to Dally Gap was still closed so I couldn't get up there to check.

  • Thanks for taking us along the trek with you. Fantastic scenery. What camera do you use? Great resolution.

  • Are you familiar with the cumberland trail sir? Is it a good trail to take my family on for a few days and nights of hiking and camping in your opinion??

  • Great video, very entertaining and informative. I have been planning to do a weekend trip to Blood Mountain soon but I may have to visit here first. I haven't hiked in Georgia yet but I am looking forward to some different scenery.

  • Do you have any issues with bugs while you're cowboy camping?

  • Cohutta is where I learned to backpack. I went to high school in Ellijay, GA. I've always read that the wilderness has very high black bear population density, but in all of the trips I ever took there I never saw or even heard a bear. I suppose there's a shyness to wilderness bears as opposed to park bears.

  • Nice video.  I live in GA. and Cohutta Wilderness is my favorite place to backpack.  I need my dog and a campfire each night though.

  • Nice video channel,I just subscribed.Are you really sleeping on nothing but a piece of tyvek over a piece of reflectix?If so,you are pretty tough!

  • Loved this area!  Do you just know all those trees, or do you have a guide that tells you the trees to look for on those trails?  Identifying trees and birds is a big hole in my repertoire. 🙂

  • Jacks Falls was a fun place to go many years ago. You can jump or dive off a ledge on the upper falls and also from a large boulder at the lower falls. Few people knew about it, and it seemed remote because you had to walk 10+ miles to get in and cross the river so many times. Ironically though, there is parking on the TN side and a short hike of only a couple of miles in to the falls, and it has become very popular. As a result, there are usually lots of people there (families and children) on weekends and the area around the falls has been over-camped. At least that was the case on my last trip there about twelve years ago.

  • The largest bear I have ever seen was in the Cohutta. Myself and two of my sons walked around the curve of one of those unused forest service roads hiking back to the car and the bear was standing broadside across the road. I estimate forty-eight inches at the shoulder and six feet from nose to rear We carefully backed up around the curve and waited a few minutes for it to depart.

  • 30+ years ago this was a wilderness area with few backpackers. I think the trails were walked more by fishermen and forest rangers. Some things that stand out from my experiences in the Cohutta; I made the mistake of taking along an English Bulldog with me on one hike. Crossing the Jacks River multiple times with her, and having to wait for her to catch up when hiking out was miserable…for both of us.

  • I found this video a couple of months back and shared it with my wife. we live in the Chattanooga area. After watching we planned our own 5 day / 4 night excursion of the Cohutta Wilderness, completing it last Wednesday (4/5/17). we had an amazing time and the memories will last much longer than the yearly beach getaway….thanks for the inspiration Evan.

  • While you avoid cooking smells while not camping where you cook, how do you hide the smells from the opened tuna packages at camp?

  • Was just backpacking here ~36 miles this past weekend. You seem underwhelmed by the waterfalls, but your trip was in the middle of extreme drought conditions. For comparison, this past weekend all Jacks River crossings were at least to my knee if not mid-thigh–I'm 6' tall. I also found it interesting that you must have made it over Rough Ridge just before the forest fire started (Oct 16). We went to Panther Creek on Oct 21-22 with the Boy Scouts (and we hiked up Panther Creek Trail, which I think is much more fun than going down!), and Rough Ridge was closed to all hikers. You might enjoy another trip here to check out the effects of the fire. I also have yet to spot a bear here. Thanks for the video!

  • I missed you by a week or two or three.  I day-hiked Hickory Creek Trail, Conasauga River Trail, Panther Creek Trail, East Cowpen Trail loop (14 miles) on October 31, 2016.  (Yes, going up Panther Creek is a challenge!)  The Rough Ridge Fire started around October 16.  The Forest Service closed Panther Creek Trail and East Cowpen Trail in early November and all of the Cohutta Wilderness a few days later.  I returned and did the same loop in reverse on December 29.  The fire damage didn't look severe.  I think the CWA should be vibrantly beautiful this spring.

    You mentioned reading a book for several hours the first night.  Do you recall which book?  I, too, like to read on backpacking trips.

    Enjoyed your video.  Thanks for posting.

  • Excellent hike! You chose some very nice trails. Glad you were able to check out the Cohutta Wilderness of north Georgia. Definitely my favorite area to hike and my favorite spot is Panther Creek Falls. This trail can be very difficult to follow and very strenuous in the reverse direction than the one you took. Another tricky spot for me is the area where Rough Ridge Trail connects with the Jacks River Trail. I really enjoyed your multi-day hike. You gave some great details and I found it very informative. I recognized almost every spot you filmed. You will need to come back when the water is flowing better. Panther Creek Falls and Jacks River Falls are gorgeous during high water events. I need to try the no cook food experiment. Well done. Thanks for taking us along. I trust you and the family are well. God bless you, friend!

  • I always enjoy your videos … you always get clips of the real trail, not just the great vistas! Not sure if I could give up my Primus and hot coffee or cocoa on that long of a trip, but looks like it worked well for you! Thanks again for sharing your passion with us!!

  • Although lacking for views that looks like a great area for backpacking. I also never bring a stove, saves so much weight.

  • Thanks for sharing your trip.  The Cohutta has been on my to-do list for a while.

  • Hey there, I've never hiked anything so remote–on a few of those trails I could barely make out where the actual trail was (you addressed this in the video)–have you ever just completely lost the trail before? You simply rely on the map? This is the part that freaks me out about hiking the remote trails!

  • you made a good loop. that's one of my favorite hikes. I have that same map.

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