Chattanooga, TN: Beech Bottoms Trail

This 9-miler follows an old logging path through hemlock forest en route to Jacks River Falls, the crown jewel of the Cohutta Wilderness.
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This 9-miler follows an old logging path through hemlock forest en route to Jacks River Falls, the crown jewel of the Cohutta Wilderness.

Jacks Rivers Falls is accessible from several Cohutta trails, but this approach via the Beech Bottoms Trail makes a visit to the falls a moderate, 9-mile dayhike rather than a weekend trip.
From the parking lot, the trail descends gradually around a snaking ridgeline before crossing Beech Creek (where an optional shortcut can trim this down to a 7.4-mile trip). After running parallel to the river for half a mile, the trail opens up to a clearing at the confluence of Jacks and Beech Creek—a great spot for a picnic lunch. Continue another 700 feet to the base of Jacks River Falls for up-close views of whitewater pouring into a deep, wide pool. Drink in the scene before retracing the route back to the trailhead.
Mapped by Marcus Woolf

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 7.3

Waypoints

BEE001

Location: 34.9905204772949, -84.5878753662109

From parking area, walk downhill to two prominent kiosks and follow the Beech Bottoms Trail. This is a popular hike that allows easier access to the Jacks River Falls than other neighboring trails in the Cohutta Wilderness. Follow the wide, level path lined with white pine as it winds along an easy grade around ravines; hardwoods fill the steep slopes.

BEE002

Location: 34.9824867248535, -84.5812225341797

Take a moment to gawk at the enormous hemlock tree on the right side of the trail (one of the largest in the Cohutta trail system). Cross the stream and continue on the trail as cuts west for a gradual climb around a short ridge.

BEE003

Location: 34.9751663208008, -84.5756072998047

Look south through a window in the trees to views of a snaking ridgeline.

BEE004

Location: 34.9751739501953, -84.5747833251953

Look south for another view of the folds in the neighboring ridge. From here the trail drops down towards Beech Creek for a gradual descent.

BEE005

Location: 34.9767265319824, -84.5680694580078

Pass a small clearing before Beech Creek (room for 2 tents). Next, cross the creek on small stones and travel southeast on a rocky path through oak and hemlock.

BEE006

Location: 34.9755935668945, -84.5676879882812

Continue straight @ 3-way junction. (Shortcut: To cut 1.6 miles off the entire trip, turn right onto the Ridge Trail and reconnect with the route at Waypoint 9).

BEE007

Location: 34.9691925048828, -84.5655822753906

Turn right @ 3-way intersection to travel west on the Jacks River Trail. Follow this wide path through a dark hallway of hemlock and pine; enjoy views of Jacks River (visible through the trees) rushing by to the left.

BEE008

Location: 34.9701766967773, -84.5691070556641

Continue straight @ 3-way junction on the Jacks River Trail. The Ridge Trail veer off to the south.

BEE009

Location: 34.9729537963867, -84.5710220336914

At the confluence of Beech Creek and Jacks River, a large clearing opens up on the right. This a great spot to relax and enjoy the river over a picnic lunch. To continue to the falls, cross Beech Creek on exposed rocks, then walk southeast on the trail along Jacks River.

BEE010

Location: 34.9720916748047, -84.5725555419922

Trail passes whitewater rapids and a series of short falls and swirling pools.

BEE011

Location: 34.9718055725098, -84.5727233886719

Jacks River Falls: Whitewater crashes over rock drop-offs before a final plunge into a deep, wide pool. It's possible to scramble down to the pool (caution: slick rocks). Cool off, drink in the scene and when you're ready to return, simply retrace your steps to trailhead.