Three Forks Hiking Trail
BY TIM HOMAN
This 1.4-mile easy-to-moderate hiking trail leads to the convergence of Holcomb, Overflow and Big creeks, a merging of streams that creates the West Fork of the Chattooga River.
Location: Eastern Blue Ridge, Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River ; Features: Cascades, streams, bluff at Three Forks ; Distance: 1.4 miles ; Difficulty Rating: Easy to moderate to end of designated trail at Holcomb Creek; final 0.2 mile of unmaintained path beside Holcomb Creek is moderate to strenuous and potentially dangerous when muddy ; County: Rabun ; Nearest City: Clayton ; Maps: Satolah Quad GA-SC-NC, Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River map; Blazes: Silver diamonds; Ranger District: Tallulah VIEW INTERACTIVE MAP
Three Forks Trail is named for the trio of creeks-Holcomb, Overflow, and Big-that tumble together at right angles to create the West Fork Chattooga River.
Starting at John Teague Gap (2,370 feet), this footpath leads hikers through forest often dominated by eastern white pine and several species of oak. After traversing 0.7 mile of predominantly level or gently descending terrain, the trail crosses the blue-blazed boundary of the Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River. The immediate Three Forks area and a narrow corridor along both banks of the entire West Fork Chattooga River are protected as part of the Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River.
The trail remains level or slightly downhill until it dips to its three-way intersection with an old jeep road at mile 1.0. Follow the road to the left as it drops sharply for nearly 0.2 mile to a flat, rocky area overlooking a swirlhole-carved cascade on Holcomb Creek. This is the end of the blazed trail; Three Forks is to the right, downstream, approximately 0.2 mile from the cascade.
There is an easy, direct way down to the forks - easy compared to bushwhacking, at least. To get there, walk upstream beneath the overhanging bluff until, after 25 to 30 yards, the banks narrow to a jump's width. Cross Holcomb Creek there. Straight ahead from the crossing, a path leads away from the creek. Don't take that one. That one soon forks to the right and left, becomes dimmer and slimmer, deteriorates to a deer run, peters out to a possum track, then snake-wiggles up a tree, and ends in a knot hole. And you are left to bushwhack the slide-on-your-butt, steep lower slopes of High Top.
A few yards to the right of the creek crossing, look for another path entering the woods through a duck-your-head hole in the rhododendron. This trail will lead you downstream, above the long, tilted chutes on Holcomb Creek to Three Forks (1,840 feet). The path becomes progressively steeper (two short, very sharp pitches) toward its bottom end beside Overflow Creek.
Mile 1.2: Cascade on Holcomb Creek.
Mile 1.4: The convergence of the three creeks that form the West Fork of the Chattooga River.
In Clayton, where US 76 turns west at a traffic light, turn east (right if you are coming from the south) onto Rickman Street. Follow Rickman Street for approximately 0.5 mile to its end at signed Warwoman Road. Turn right onto Warwoman Road and proceed approximately 13.3 miles to the left turn onto signed Overflow Creek Road (FS 86) just after you cross the West Fork Chattooga River. Travel straight ahead on dirt-gravel Overflow Creek Road for approximately 3.9 miles to the obvious trailhead on the right side of the road at signed John Teague Gap. The trailhead is further marked with a nearly vandal-proof trail-sign boulder. There is pull-in parking to the right and left of the road.
Tagged with: Eastern Blue Ridge Chattooga River Hiking Trails in Georgia
This 1.4-mile easy-to-strenuous hiking trail leads to the convergence of Holcomb, Overflow and Big creeks, creating the West Fork of the Chattooga River.
Eastern Blue Ridge. Three Forks hiking trail interactive map.