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Trekking west to east, this 11-mile shuttle wanders the first half of the Duncan Ridge Trail Section 2 (and part of Section 3 of the Benton MacKaye Trail). After stashing a vehicle at Mulky Gap (the east end of the hike), drive west to a Benton MacKaye Trail access point on GA 60 and begin hiking, following the white diamond blazes.
The climbing kicks up in a hurry on the route up Wallalah Mountain. This is a classic Appalachian ridge trek with numerous short summit approaches of peaks and knobs and very few respites from steep climbing or descending. The trail is very well-marked and well-maintained throughout (and scattered with some campsites). In season, you’ll likely be hiking under a heavy tunnel of tree canopy (a deciduous mix of oaks and hardwoods). When the trees do part at the occasional overlook points, they reveal far-reaching views of Chattahoochee National Forest and the Blue Ridge peaks of north Georgia.
-Mapped by Scott Sanders, GroundedGraphics.com
TO TRAILHEAD: Start: Take I 85 N to US 19/GA 400 N. Go 46.8 miles and turn left on US 19/GA 249. In 5.1 miles turn right on US .19/GA 60. 8 miles later, turn left to stay on GA 60. Continue 21.9 miles to trailhead (on right).
End: After turning left on GA 60, go 14.9 miles and turn right on Cooper Creek Rd. (at the Cooper Creek Convenience Store). Go 4.2 miles and turn left on Old Mulky Gap Rd. In 3.4 miles you’ll synch up with Mulky Gap Rd. and the trailhead is just a few hundred feet ahead.
- Distance: 17.9
- Miles from city center: 95
Location: 34.7660942, -84.1643448
The asphalt parking lot on GA 60 is marked by a green hiker sign and has enough space for 3 cars. Do not filter water from the creek near the road as there some is agricultural “run off” from a chicken farm up stream. Begin hiking north on the white-diamond blazed Benton MacKaye Trail (which shares a tread with the Duncan Ridge Trail for the first 4.2 miles).
Location: 34.7668686, -84.1643982
Continue straight @ 4-way intersection, following white diamond blazes through a mixed deciduous forest of evergreen, oaks, and hardwoods.
Location: 34.7727318, -84.159317
Continue straight @ 4-way intersection.
Location: 34.7781258, -84.1568375
At this slightly confusing spot, the trail makes a hard right and heads uphill. Ahead, you’ll tackle two more switchbacks on a 500-foot climb up to the spine and summit of Wallalah Mountain.
Location: 34.7812054, -84.1517115
Follow the trail as it makes a sharp U-turn to the left and descends a short stretch before jogging back east along the north ridge of Wallalah (marked with blue blazes).
Location: 34.7817154, -84.1438065
Continue straight @ 4-way intersection across an old logging road. This stretch of the trail through thick green tree canopy is classic Appalachian ridge hiking.
Location: 34.7843056, -84.1309814
Licklog Mountain: This heavily wooded summit doesn’t offer much in the way of far-reaching views.
Location: 34.7882547, -84.1274214
The trail arrives at a medium-sized campsite (room for 5-6 tents) with a fire-pit. Down the hill to the right is the first usable water source.
Location: 34.7946053, -84.124588
Bear right @ 3-way junction. This is where the Benton MacKaye and Duncan Ridge trails separate. From here, follow the blue rectangular trail blazes.
Location: 34.795475, -84.1241913
Bear right @ second 3-way junction. Fifty yards to the left of this junction is a scenic overlook to the north.
Location: 34.8014793, -84.1011658
Trail crests Gregory Knob. This stretch of trail undulates steeply over a handful of short summits. The climbs are steep but brief.
Location: 34.8057747, -84.0877075
Sarvis Gap: Look for the wooden sign with a ‘W’ pointing a water source and a directional arrow pointing out the direction of the trail.
Location: 34.8018951, -84.070755
Continue straight at Fish Gap, passing an intersection with a gravel road. You’ll pass a water source down the road.
Location: 34.7991714, -84.0397491
This section of the trail ends at Mulky Gap.
Location: 34.7765173, -84.1542864
A scenic view to the south from on the climb up Wallalah Mountain. © Scott Sanders
Location: 34.7883957, -84.1272068
Follow the ‘W’ to a spring water source. © Scott Sanders
Location: 34.796114, -84.1237736
© Scott Sanders
Location: 34.8016115, -84.0707731
© Scott Sanders
Rhodes Mountain Gap
Location: 34.7982284, -84.1162205
© Scott Sanders
Blue Ridge Views
Location: 34.8001314, -84.0508604
© Scott Sanders