Hiking Burgess Mountain Trail in Oconee National Forest

Burgess Mountain Trailhead

The Burgess Mountain Trail is a short hiking trail in the Oconee District of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.

Unlike other, more heavily used trails in the Georgia, there is next to no information on the trail online. The best & most recent post was from MathProfHiker back in 2014.

Here’s what I found in both the Winter of 2020 and Summer of 2018.

During Winter

The trail begins on Burgess Rd near Eatonton. Unlike other Oconee District trails* it’s surrounded completely by public land within the natural road / water borders. The trailhead is located on the west side of the road with a small parking pull-off on the east side of the road.

*I’ve since checked out other middle Georgia public lands like the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, Kinnard Creek Trail, Murder Creek, Scull Shoals, and the Hitchiti Trail.

There’s also a flooded out old forest road leading past the parking pull out. Based on satellite maps & trash evidence, it looks like that road leads to a wildlife clearing that is popular with hunters.

If you hike here from October to February, be sure to wear hunter orange. It’s a great hunting area with very few hikers.

Burgess Mountain Trail Access

Even though the trail is only about 0.3 miles long, it has not been maintained in years. The Forest Service also did a burn in this sector in 2018, so the “trail” is all but gone at first.

Burgess Mountain Trail 1

If you look closely though, you’ll see some yellow markings on the trees headed west. And if you are here in the Winter, there’s vert little undergrowth, you can just walk line of sight to the next yellow marking.

Eventually you’ll come to an old logging road with a clear line of sight uphill with yellow markings.

Burgess Mountain Trail 2

Follow that path up a short, intermediate slope to higher elevation. The pines disappear quickly giving way to hardwoods.

The trail markings turn just short of the top of the ridge to walk along it. There’s plenty of downfall, but it has natural paths around briars.

Burgess Mountain Trail 3

If you keep walking west along the ridge, the winter views will open up while the trail cuts south across the ridge to the actual summit. There’s a witness post directing attention to the actual summit of Burgess Mountain

Burgess Mountain Trail 4

Very close to the witness post is a USGS reference marker.

Burgess Mountain Trail 5

Even though Burgess Mountain is not very high in absolute terms, it is relatively high compared to the surrounding Piedmont.

The views are pretty good.

Burgess Mountain Trail 6

Additionally, the bird, plant, wildlife watching is pretty good. Birds use the elevation for safety and surveying. The mountain itself has great examples of rock outcrops and all the unique species that come with them.

There is also some historical remnants. Not that long ago, the mountain and surrounding floodplain were totally deforested farmland. There’s still old farm equipment lurking in the woods.

Burgess Mountain Trail 7

During Summer

Summer on the Burgess Mountain Trail is…not recommended. Not only is the trail not maintained, but walking line of sight is not fun at all.

Burgess Mountain Trailhead - Summer

I (and the children) only hiked a short portion. We turned back due to high overgrowth, shocking levels of mosquitoes (from the nearby floodplain), and extreme tick risk.

Burgess Mountain Trail - Summer

There are some upsides to hiking the Burgess Trail in the summer, but do wear an appropriate long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and hiking boots. It’s hot, humid, and has every bit of Piedmont Georgia feel.

The slightly higher elevation of the summit & hardwoods give some relief, but it’s still pretty rough.

Burgess Mountain Trail Summit - Summer

In a Forest that’s a bit lacking in trails, I’m glad that the Burgess Trail exists. But I also see why it doesn’t get much use. However, more use = more support. If you are interested in volunteering to maintain it, let me know and I’ll join in. If you are hiking middle Georgia, I’d recommend Hard Labor Creek in addition / instead.

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