Three Forks – to the Bridge and Back

Toccoa Swinging Bridge

Janice, GUTS president, put together a great 17+ mile run Sunday morning that started at the Three Forks trailhead (directions to follow) east of Ellijay. Harley and I left Smyrna around 6:15 and headed up I-75 listening to SOHO and chugging coffee as if Roger’s life depended on it.

It looked like we had a group of about 15 runners at the start – most were new faces to me. We had a bit of a hairy start. We were warned that there were a couple of tricky turns at the trail briefing. These tricky turns were then complicated by all the leaves covering the trails. The first mile is on the Appalachian Trail and Benton McKaye Trail combined, then you take a sharp left onto the BMT. Long Creek Falls is near the cutoff and close to one well-situated primitive campground.

“Which way do we go?!”

It didn’t take long before we thinned out over the out-and-back trail. The first 2 miles or so were gorgeous as we ran along Long Creek in a rhododendron-filled valley. It was in the high 30s at the start, but layers quickly came off and were stowed in my hydration vest. This trail involved a fair bit of hiking – some good steep hiking to be clear. I think I prolly ran 2/3 of the 17ish miles? That is not to say that this was not a work out as my calves were barking their fare share.

Yes, there is a trail under all those leaves, but you’ll have to take my word for it!

The trail was very nice with several beautiful vistas (thanks to the fallen leaves) and several potential ankle-breaking spots (thanks to the fallen leaves covering lots o’rocks). We turned around the Toccoa Swinging Bridge which made for one scenic destination. Janice left some yummy salty snacks at her car near the bride and there were several choice camping spots around here too. The Adams quickly decided that we would come back to this area to camp and trail run. Any takers?!

Toccoa Swinging Bridge

Scottie Sidebar – On Saturday night our friends Betsy and Dave hosted a housewarming party at their awesome new pad in Decatur. Several of my favorite Scotties were in attendance and after my __ (insert a #>2) beer it was time to go as we had to get up so blasted early the next day. I hate leaving what is either going to turn into a Scottie porch night or dance floor throw down and I suffered from FOMS (or fear of missing something) all the way home. But what’s so crazy is….Meredith and Steve came down from AVL and stayed with Betsy and Dave. Sunday they were heading up to Suches to see an old friend on the way back to AVL. Last night I see on Mere’s FB a pic of her and Steve on the Toccoa Swinging Bridge!!! Shut the front door! I’ve never heard of this bridge or trail before and then we both go to it unbeknownst to the other a mere 4 hours apart. Ok fine, I have a very, very low threshold for excitement. Back to trail running….

Harley’s IT Band was still being a major pain in the knee so he hiked the trail. I texted him (yes, I carry my phone on the trail – how else would I take these pics!) when I reached the bridge so he would know to turn around – timing is everything. The run back was just as pretty as on the way there – and still some things looked a little different coming from the opposite direction. I met up with him near the waterfalls and we ran the last mile together to the trailhead.

Janice was a very good hostess and brought some homemade pumpkin muffins, cinnamon roll cupcakes, and peanut butter M&Ms. Harley, who loves peanut butter M&Ms, said that if he were a squirrel he would take all the M&Ms and bury them in the ground to hide them from everyone else. So you can see, it was a perfect ending to a perfect day on the trail! Oh, and the fact that we remembered to bring a couple of beers to the finish line helped too! Thanks Janice for organizing the run – it was great!

(courtesy of the Benton MacKaye Trail Association)

Directions to Three Forks TH from ATL:
• Take 575/5 to Ellijay (takes about 1 hour from the north 120 loop on I75)
• Take RIGHT onto Hwy52, 1 mile past Burger King/ Colonel Poole’s in Ellijay
• Soon you will come to a stop sign
• Take LEFT onto Hwy 52
• Go 4.5 miles and take LEFT onto Big Creek Rd (is after road goes to only 2 lane; road has a cement divider on the corner where you will turn)
• Go 14.6 miles and the road will become gravel
• Take RIGHT just after Fellowship Primitive Baptist church onto FS 58
• Follow FS58 5 miles to the trailhead at 3 Forks
• It takes about 30-45 minutes to drive from Ellijay to the 3 Forks trailhead
• Note: FS58 is moderately rough, but a SUV is not required
Here are links to the profile and a description of the course, courtesy of the Benton MacKaye Trail Association:

Click to access BMT-SecDescrip-02.pdf

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