If you love following mountain creeks on your hikes, then this is the route for you! You're never far from water and the beautiful flora and fauna that require it. You'll get your feet wet, and it's steep, but this pristine wilderness trail system will keep you smiling for days!
This hike starts at the Bear Creek Trail
at the terminus of FS 241. If participating with a group, it's highly advised to park at the bottom where the mountain bikers park and carpool up to the trailhead so there is plenty of room for everyone.
Start past the kiosk on the Lower Bear Creek Trail
. In about 0.1 miles, Pinhoti 1 will split to the left -- don't go this way! Continue straight, following the sign for the northbound Pinhoti and the Gennett Poplar. In about 0.8 miles, the Gennett Poplar will be on your left. It's a tulip poplar and the second largest deciduous tree in Georgia! The first largest is also in the Cohuttas, but further north in the Wilderness Area.
About 0.25 miles from the "big tree," follow Pinhoti (also called Pinhoti Connector, since it connects Lower and Upper Bear Creek). This is a short connector with an uphill start. Make a left on Upper Bear Creek (Bear Creek Loop). This section offers the only segment of doubletrack. You won't be on it for long, though!
Follow the signs for the Pinhoti to the right. This 1.5ish-mile segment of the Pinhoti is designated for foot traffic only, so you'll notice the difference in maintenance. It's wild and beautiful! This segment ends at the Mountaintown Creek Trail
. Although the trail goes straight, this is NOT the Pinhoti (although it is Mountaintown), so make sure to make a LEFT here!
Follow Mountaintown Creek Trail
northbound all the way to the top at FS 64! At about 7 miles into the hike, you'll pass a lovely waterfall on your left, and just up from it is another cascade with a pool for foot/body soaking and a nice snacking/lunch spot. Once to the top, catch your breath and return back the way you came!
So about the creeks ... Anytime the word "creek" is in the trail name, be prepared for wet tootsies! There are 11 crossings (some you can hop across, some not) on Mountaintown alone. This is one way! The foot-travel only segment of the Pinhoti has crossings, but they can be hopped pretty easily. Bear Creek has several good crossings as well. So bring dry stuff to change into when you're done!
This is pretty technical trail in places. There are some rock gardens, and the rocks like to move. The trail can get really narrow on Mountaintown. Just be careful!
Bear Creek, the Pinhoti Connector, and Mountaintown Creek Trail
are all shared use with mountain bikers. You may see bidirectional traffic on Bear, but Mountaintown is typically rode for the downhill (it's pretty sweet!). Expect to see other trail users!