Bartram Hiking Trail Section 2
The 36.4-mile segment of the Bartram Trail in Rabun County is but a small link of a once envisioned 2,550-mile trail winding through eight southeastern states. The goal of this trail is to trace, wherever possible, the exact route of eighteenth century naturalist William Bartram. From 1773 to 1776, Bartram traveled an estimated 920 miles in Georgia. He explored portions of what is now Rabun County in 1776, when "bears, tygers, wolves, and wildcats were numerous."
The Bartram Trail is described from north to south-from Hale Ridge Road to GA 28-because it is considerably less difficult when hiked in this direction.
TRAIL SUMMARY Location: Eastern Blue Ridge, Chattooga River, Warwoman Road to GA 28; Features: Chattooga River, large streams, waterfalls; Distance: 18.8 miles; Difficulty Rating: Moderate; County: Rabun; Nearest City: Clayton; Maps: Rabun Bald Quad (GA-NC); Rainy Mountain Quad (GA-SC), Whetstone Quad (SC-GA), Satolah Quad (GA-SC-NC); Chattooga Wild and Scenic River map; one page Bartram Trail map available from ranger district; Blazes: White diamonds to Warwoman Creek bridge; Water Sources: Water is scarce for the first 9.4 miles to Dicks Creek Road; water is abundant beyond Dicks Creek Road; Ranger District:
Section 2 of the Bartram Trail is a good two-or three-day backpacking trip. Sandy Ford Road, which divides this section into nearly equal segments, provides opportunities for day hikers.
From Warwoman Road to Sandy Ford Road, the Bartram travels to the east, winding its way up, along, and over a series of low, unnamed, oak-pine ridges as it heads toward the Chattooga. This 9.4- mile segment is constantly undulating. All the long upgrades are easy or moderate. The downgrades are occasionally steep.
From Sandy Ford Road to GA 28, Section 2 parallels the Chattooga River to the northeast on generally easy grades. This segment remains, for the most part, within the protected corridor of the Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River. The trailside forest is diverse - eastern hemlock and riparian hardwoods are mixed in with the usual slope and ridge species.
This portion of the Bartram is the least strenuous long section of trail (over 15.0 miles) in North Georgia, especially in comparison to sections of the Duncan Ridge and Appalachian Trails of similar length. Beginning at Warwoman Road (1,920 feet), the most demanding part of Section 2 occurs within the first mile as it climbs through Green Gap, then nears the high point of an unnamed knob (2,560 feet) before descending. Because the highest point on this section is less than 2,800 feet, and because there are not substantial or frequent changes, elevations have not been included beyond the first ascent from Warwoman Road.
Section 2 begins beside the Bartram historical marker to the right of Warwoman Road a few hun- dred yards before the entrance to Warwoman Dell Picnic Area. The trail descends from Warwoman Road into the picnic area, turns right onto the road and follows it to the pavilion parking lot. The tread- way continues up and to the left of the parking lot, behind the Bartram and Blue Ridge Railroad signs.
Beyond the dell, the path makes an easy-to-moderate climb, winding through coves to a ridge top at mile 1.1 and then descending to a dirt road by mile 1.5. Here the trail turns right onto Green Gap Road and follows it for 65 yards before reentering the forest to the right. At mile 1.9 the Bartram crosses the road again and ascends to the next ridge at mile 2.7. It then roller-coasters on easy-to-moderate grades up to and over another ridge at mile 4.0.
After dropping sharply for 0.2 mile, the trail rises back onto the ridge, undulates along its spine to mile SA, and then steadily descends to Pool Creek Road at mile 5.9. Across the road, the path climbs moderately for 0.4 mile through a forest dominated by Virginia pine and blackjack oak. In winter, gaps through these trees afford views of Rabun Bald to the north. At mile 7.2 the treadway angles left across an old road, then remains predominantly level or downhill until it crosses Sandy Ford Road at mile 9.4.
About 100 yards past the road, the Chattooga River Trail ties into the Bartram Trail at a Y-shaped junction marked with a stone trail sign. Beyond this junction, Section 2 descends through a stand of tall eastern white pine, crosses a bridge over Dicks Creek at mile 9.8, and almost immediately enters a small clearing. To the right of this clearing, across a small bridge, an old road leads 200 yards to one of North Georgia's most beautiful scenes-Dicks Creek Falls. Here the creek's final run splashes 60 feet down a solid slide of rock to the Chattooga. In front of the waterfall, the wide river booms over a bank-ta-bank ledge, a Class IV rapid known as Dicks Creek Ledge. A steep path drops to the boulders at the base of the falls.
Continuing straight ahead from the clearing, the path gradually rises over a low ridge before winding down through coves to the river at mile 10.5. For the next 0.6 mile, the Bartram closely parallels the Chattooga, an enticing dark green where it deepens, on an old road through eastern hemlock. The trail continues along the easy grades of the road as it swings away from the river and heads to Earls Ford Road at mile 12.2. In the past hikers forded the creek here, but now the trail crosses Earls Ford Road and closely parallels Warwoman Creek upstream for 0.2 mile before crossing the iron-rail bridge over the creek.
Once across the wide creek, the route swings left, then proceeds grad- ually uphill on road grade. Two-tenths mile beyond the bridge, at a dou- ble blaze, the track turns up and to the right onto path. Here the hiking ascends parallel to a ravine, dips to and crosses its notch, then makes a moderate, 100-yard climb to the top of a spur off a Willis Knob ridge. Just over the crest the walkway crosses the signed horse trail at mile 12.8. Continuing over another spur, the overall easy upgrade proceeds on a dry, oak-pine slope. The trail crosses a roadbed atop the long ridge run- ning southward from Willis Knob at mile 13.2. Once over the rtdgeline, the treadway winds slowly downward-rounding hollows, ranging along- side ravines from above, and curling over spurs on cut-in paths.
At mile 14.7 you cross Laurel Branch on a bridge. Then the trail heads up another ridge-running road, quickly turning right onto a path and dropping to the bridge over Bynum Branch at mile 15.6. The Bartram crosses a bridge over Adline Branch at 16.2, then turns right onto an old road. Section 2's remaining 2.6 miles mostly follow old roads through a flood plain, close to but usually out of sight of the river. This area, Long Bottom, was fenced and farmed until perhaps the 1960s. The size of the trees in the pine plantation gives you an idea of when the open land returned to forest.
After a bridged crossing of a rivulet at mile 17.3, the old-road tread- way closely parallels the Chattooga. Beyond the one open viewing spot on the bank, much of the next 0.2 mile offers occasional looks through screening trees to the river below. The track dips to and crosses Holden Branch at mile 17.6, rises slowly, ties back into roadbed, and passes a wall of kudzu to the left.
The Bartram passes a young south-facing oak-pine-red maple forest on the upslope as it heads back toward the Chattooga. By mile 18.1 the trail is close enough to the channel for good partial views down through the foliage. After following the wild river for 0.1 mile, the course ascends above the bottom onto the lowermost slope of Holden Mountain before dropping to the outer edge of the floodplain again and the 115-foot-long iron-rail bridge over the West Fork Chattooga at mile 18.5.
The final stretch curves right onto roadbed (constructed to bring in the bridge), then travels upstream along the main river on the lower slopes of Alf Hill. The route slips off the road onto path and drops to its end at GA 28 next to Russell Bridge.
Mile 9.9: Dicks Creek Falls and a Class IV rapid-Dicks Creek Ledge on the Chattooga River.
Miles 10.5-11.1: Trail closely parallels the Chattooga.
Mile 12.2: Parallels then crosses Warwoman Creek, a scenic Chattooga River tributary.
To the GA 28, Russell Bridge trailhead: From the Warwoman Dell Recreation Area, travel 11.2 miles northeast and farther away from Clayton on Warwoman Road. Turn right onto GA 28 toward Walhalla, Sc. Continue 2.2 miles on GA 28 to the Russell Bridge that crosses the Chattooga River. You will see the Bartram Trail treadway to the right of the highway just before the Russell Bridge. There is a parking area on the opposite (left) side of the highway. (See Section 1 of the Bartram Trail for directions to the Warwoman Dell Recreation Area trailhead.)
To Sandy Ford Road: This road intersects Section 2 at its midpoint.
From Warwoman Dell Recreation Area, continue traveling on Warwoman Road farther away from Clayton (northeastward) for approximately
2.9 miles before turning right onto signed Sandy Ford Road. (Once on paved Sandy Ford Road, follow the directions on page 13 to Chattooga River Trail's northern end, 100 yards from the Bartram's trail-sign boulder on the right side of Sandy Ford Road.)
Note: The Bartram National Heritage Trail needs volunteers to help remove blowdowns and to perform regular trail maintenance. Contact the Tallulah Ranger District if you are willing to help.