Points of Interest along this section:
The highlights of this section are the Ocoee River and the Ocoee #3 Powerhouse at US 64 on the lower end and an old growth forest on the upper end. Also at this location is the Thunder Rock Campground with hot showers in season. About a mile and a half east on US64 is the Ocoee Whitewater Center, location of the 1996 Whitewater Summer Olympics. The Whitewater Center is best reached by hiking the Rhododendron Trail
, connected to the BMT on the south side of the river by the bridge. The center has a visitor center, picnic area, gift shop, restrooms, and minimal snacks. Seven and a half miles to the east on US 64 is Ducktown, a small town which was the site of huge open pit copper mines. The area was deforested by the sulfuric acid fumes, but has made a remarkable recovery. Restaurants, grocery stores, motels, and the Ducktown Basin Museum are highlights of this village. Parts of the Old Copper Road are now a hiking/biking trail which parallels the river between Ducktown and Cleveland. This road was the primary transport for smelted copper out of the Copper Basin prior to the coming of the railroad.
After crossing FS 221 at mile 89.6 (WP 97, 1900’), the BMT turns left and goes down the gated forest road following the white diamonds. About 0.3 miles down this road, the trail takes a sharp left onto another road and follows the old roadbed through a large area of old growth hemlocks to mile 91.3 where the BMT crosses FS 45. From here the trail climbs the bank and then works its way up along a ridgeline, then descends steeply down a series of steps and switchbacks to the Ocoee River and the west end of the Thunder Rock Campground and follows the campground road out through the campground entrance at mile 92.7 (WP 100, 1120’) passing by the shower house and restrooms, then out to FS 45. To continue on the BMT, turn left, hike past the powerhouse (Rhododendron Trail
goes right just before the bridge), and cross the Ocoee River on the bridge. From here the BMT crosses this very busy multi-lane highway at mile 93.0 and heads up the mountainside on the south side of the highway.
The preferred campsite in this section is the USFS campground at the Ocoee River (Thunder Rock Campground, WP 100), which has 41 class A/B campsites, potable water, restrooms and a shower house (open in season). The campground is generally closed in the winter except for a few campsites next to the parking lot, but check the Cherokee National Forest website or call the Ocoee Whitewater Center for dates of operation and for when the showers are available.
There is potable water available at the Thunder Rock Campground. Also water is available between FS 221 and FS 45 at a bend in the old roadbed in a draw at mile 90.3 (C) and on the section between FS 45 and Thunder Rock Campground at a small stream crossing at mile 92.4 (A).