In August 2018, I did a day hike along the Chattooga River in the Ellicott Rock Wilderness in North Georgia. I started at the Burrell’s Ford and hiked north along the Chattooga River Trail, hoping to find the actual Ellicott’s Rock (the boundary of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina).
The Chattooga River Trail hugs the river closely. The trail is always right along the river – no matter the elevation.
This corridor is one of the most beautiful sections of North Georgia. It doesn’t get as much attention, since there’s no Appalachian Trail or touristy mountain town (like Helen) nearby. But it’s accessible from Atlanta and has an incredible vibe. The river is especially known for its trout fishing and clarity. It’s one of the rare, undammed, wild rivers in Georgia.
The trail and hike is very straightforward. It’s also well-maintained despite the heavy use that it gets. There are several useful bridges along the trail across major creeks (which also have waterfalls further up).
The area is one of the rainiest in Georgia. In late summer, you can just feel the growth of all the things. It’s humid, damp, and warm. Classic Southern Appalachian mountains.
The hike is fairly slow going – not because it’s challenging – but because of all the lovely views. The Chattooga is so incredibly clear and swift that it’s just beautiful to watch.
I never did see Ellicott’s Rock. I’ve read multiple descriptions on the location, but never saw it, despite traipsing into North Carolina according to my GPS. The whole hike is in wilderness area, so there’s limited signage.
Either way, it’s definitely a place that I’ll be coming back to and highly recommend. The trail can be paired with the Foothills Trail or the Ellicott Rock Trail for a nice, challenging 10+ mile loop.