3-07-2015 Penitentiary Branch & Hemp Top Trail


Under the direction of Forest Service Ranger Kevin Vaselinda, the March 7, 2015 work day in the Cohutta Wilderness was on Penitentiary Branch Trail which goes west off of Hemp Top Trail down to Jacks River. Rehabilitation of existing waterbars was the task. Due to the remote location, the call had gone out to Back County Horsemen of Northwest Georgia (BCHNG) for their workers with enhanced mobility.


The improved (larger) Dally Gap parking lot gathering at 9:00 am/30 degrees included the BCHNWG equestrians, the Benton McKaye Trail section lead, Conasauga District Trail Volunteers (CDTV), and Southern Area Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) members. I counted 20 volunteers.


Tannis and I requested to be assigned to remove a troublesome overgrowth of wild roses from an east-facing sunny corner of Hemp Top Trail. No trimming was done on that section of Hemp Top in 2014 and rose briars were arcing over the tread path. Every year, beating back the briar-studded growth exacted a bloody toll on workers armed with swingblades. We removed the tops of the bushes and dug up the root crowns, all without being scratched. We worked together using a rake, lopper, and pulaski tool set. We intended to take out two privet hedge trees in the area, but ran out of time and energy to do it this trip. Before and after pictures are attached.


Due to the lateness of the day, we were not able to stay for the after work social, which we had prepared for, but had to forego with regrets.


Looking forward to hearing in a separate report how the waterbar work went.


Tom & Tannis Blackwell

UPDATE: Jake and Bull Mountain (3-9-15)

A  HUGE Thank You!!!  to the USFS  fire crews who went out this past weekend and cleared the Jake & Bull Mtn trails.  We appreciate all of you who stayed off the trails.

The trails are now re-opened.  Please know that there are sure to still be some very muddy spots.  And with all the rain predicted for the rest of this week, you’ll want to stay off the trails for a day or so after the rain stops – to give them a chance to dry out.

As a reminder, the next trail workday is Saturday April 11th.   There will be clean up needed in the campground.  Filling of gravel bags in preparation for the May 16 packing/turnpike project.  Other trail work as needed.  Please RSVP so we have enough lunch, can better plan the work and notify you if Mother Nature causes a change in plans.  Meet at the Jake Mtn parking lot at 9:00.  We’ll work until 1:00 then enjoy lunch and socializing.

The May 16 workday will be spent packing gravel to another turnpike site (on the other side of Jones Creek) and actual construction of the turnpikes.  It’ll be a big, collaborative effort with equestrians from CTHA and back country horsemen from east Tennessee packing the gravel with their equines and CTHA & SORBA members laying the timbers and filling them with gravel.

The folks from TN will be camping for the weekend so feel free to join us – everyone (bikers & equestrians) is welcome.  We’ll ride for pleasure Sunday morning.

Again, please RSVP – for the same reasons mentioned above.

I hope you can join us.  If you never have, please consider coming for the first time.  Call me if you have any questions about what we do.



Debbie Crowe




Frady Branch Trail Work Days 2015

Event: Frady Branch Trail Work Day


March 28 (rain date April 18)

May 30 (rain date June 13)

August 29 (rain date September 12)

November 7 (tentative – will confirm one hunting season is announced)

Time:  8:45 AM – 1 PM

Location : Frady Branch Trailhead on GA Hwy 184 (see directions)

Lots of improvements at Frady Branch are coming up. Two reroutes are in the works which should add to the enjoyment and these are just a start. These two reroutes are being funded by RTP monies and our commitment is to match a portion of the grant with our volunteer hours. Here’s a grant chance to start building up those hours. It should be a good time with some trail work, lots of fellowship, and maybe a ride afterward.

All tools will be provided.  Lunch will be provided afterwards.

If you’re joining us please bring the following:
Long pants
Sturdy shoes or boots ( no open toe footwear)
Eye protection
Work gloves
Hard hat (some will be provided, bike/riding  helmets will do)

Please put this on your calendar.   Here is the contact information.  Please let us know if you plan to attend so we can have an accurate headcount for lunch.

Joan Grant (equestrian)          horseygrant@bellsouth.net cell/text 706-654-7081

Keith Owen (mountain biker) kaowen@myemc.net cell/text 706-499-3893


Directions to Frady Branch Trailhead

GPS Coordinates – 34.552486, -83.430925

From Gainesville, GA :

Travel northeast from Gainesville on GA Hwy 365 for 29 miles.   Take ramp right for GA Hwy 365 toward Lavonia/Toccoa.  Travel 6 miles to stoplight at GA 184/W Currahee St (Shell station on your left) – turn right.  Travel 0.3 miles and turn left onto GA 184 just past state patrol station.  Travel 2.8 miles, then turn right into Frady Branch trailhead.

From Lavonia, GA:

From I-85 travel north 13 miles to Toccoa Bypass – turn left.  Travel 5 miles to GA 184/W Currahee St (Shell station on your right) – turn left.  Travel 0.3 miles and turn left onto GA 184 just past state patrol station.  Travel 2.8 miles, then turn right into Frady Branch trailhead.

From Commerce, GA:

From US 441 at Banks Crossing travel northeast on I-85 4 miles and take exit 154.  Turn left onto GA Hwy 63 and travel 11 miles.  Keep straight on GA 184 and travel 5+ miles to Frady Branch trailhead on your left.

From Clayton, GA:

From Clayton travel south on US 441 23 miles to the intersection with GA 17 (stop light and BP station on your right) – turn left.  Travel .2 miles to next stop light – turn left on GA 365 towards Toccoa.  Travel 6 miles to stoplight at GA 184/W Currahee St (Shell station on your left) – turn right.  Travel 0.3 miles and turn left onto GA 184 just past state patrol station.  Travel 2.8 miles, then turn right into Frady Branch trailhead.