Southeast Overland Trip

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bhaskell

Rank 0
38
USA, FL
Just a quick post to highlight a trip that I just finished. My son was on spring break this week so we decided to pack up to 2011 Xterra Pro 4x and head from Florida to North Geogia. We left sunday morning and headed to Eton, GA to pick up the "Georgia Traverse". We stopped briefly in Eton to fuel up and buy some firewood. We headed up into the mountains and grabbed a campsite in the Conasauga NF. We drove through a severe cold front on the ride up. While setting up camp we were still getting some drizzle from the tail of the storm and the temperature was dropping quickly. We blazed up a nice fire to keep warm and made some food. We awoke in the morning to ice covering everything. We brewed up some coffee and started to fire before we broke camp and headed east on the GT. A bit down the road you come to a fork which provides a loop throught the forest. The north side is about 60 miles while the south side is about 15 miles. We opted for the long route and enjoyed the whole forest to ourselves. This section is comprised of service roads mostly in good shape. We did need to navigate around some fallen trees. Although we did bring a chainsaw, previous travlers had already cleared a wide enough path for the Xterra.

On the backside of the Conasauga NF we stopped briefly in Blue Ridge, GA for fuel. We continued on the GT and made camp the second night north of Suches, GA on the lower loop. We found a nice primative camp site right on a small creek. This night we would see temperatures of 15 degrees. While was was warm in my sleeping bag, getting up in the morning was a bit brutal. I fired up some coffe and a nice fire and we sat around for a good hour trying to warm up. We broke camp around 9am and headed further east on the GT. Today our big goal was to tackle Tray Mountain.

Tray Mountain was a very spectacular ride. I have watched several videos of this trail, but the videos did it no justice. The ride up the west side of the mountain was uneventful, but cresting the top you are greeted with a sign saying "4x4 ONLY". The path down the east side of the mountain is very adventurous and not for the faint of heart. Once you get a bit down the trail, you are fully committed, there is no turning around. It took us a few hours to finish the trail and my son and I really felt a sense of accomplishment making it through in one piece. We continued east and finished up through Charlie's Creek NW of Clayton, GA. This evening we opted to get a room in Clayton as we were expecting to see another night of 17 degree temps.

On the third day, we back tracked to where Charlie's Creek eneded and picked up the GT track. On this day we would finish the GT around 2pm. We had planned to camp at the end of the traverse, but once we finished we decided we would haul butt up to Ashville NC and take a run at Hurricane Creek Road. Also watched several videos on this run the latest posting in February. It took us about 1.5 hrs to make the drive up there and exiting off HWY 40 onto the start of the trail.

Hurricane Creek road is a unique trail. The conditions are known to change often. On this day, I think we found one of the more difficult conditions. A short drive in we found ourselves on a very narrow and rocky trail. There were lots of large rocks and some very bad washouts. The further we progressed the worse the trail got. We did not see another soul through the entire road. I will be honest, there were a few moments that I was concerned about making it to the end of the road. The mud was thick and slick. The ruts were deep and with 33" tires I had barely enough clearance to make it through. My son and I had a huge sigh of relief when we popped on an improved road. This was short lived when a bit further up this improved road turned to ruts and mud galore. Trying to straddle the ruts in a really bad section, I found myself in some deep doodoo. Only one thing to do, give it a heavy foot and hope for the best. The Xterra couldn't be stopped! At the next junction in the trail, we jumped on another side road and found our way out to Max Patch road. A short drive later on some nice hard packed forest roads, we found ourselves at the parking area for Max Patch. From the parking area it a .3 mile hike to the top. We started the hike up at around 530pm. While frozen we admired the 360 degree vista of all of the surrounding mountains and watched the sun set to the west. The entire max patch was covered in about 3 inches of snow. After making the hike back down, we drove into Maggie Valley and grabbed a hotel for the night.

Last day we headed out from Maggie Valley and stopped briefly in Cherokee to check out the heard of Elk. After a quick stop and some pictures we headed back to Florida. It was a great 5 days of travel and some of the best views and trails in the Southeast. This was a single vehicle trip. We went well prepared and over packed. We never had to use any of our recovery gear. While there were lots of technical obstacles, we were able to overcome everything with 4 wheel low and rear locker. I would say a good 70 percent of the traverse we did in 2wd. The remaining 30 percent was done mostly in 4 wheel high with mostly the backside of Tray Mnt and Hurricane Creek done in 4 low and locked.

I would highly recommend the Georgia Traverse to anyone interested in a few day of fun. There is no distance greater than the average vehicle can make on a tank of gas and you are never terribly far from resources. The portion west of Eton doesn't look very exciting and isn't very mountainous. Maybe sometime we'll come back and explore that last section we skipped.
 

bhaskell

Rank 0
38
USA, FL
Its interesting, we spoke with a local older gentleman at tray mnt and he said there had been talk about shutting down access to the trail due to abuse of the surrounding lands. It was apparent both at Tray Mnt and Hurricane Creek that people are abusing the trails and surrounding lands and this is having an impact on the environment. Whether these are local offenders or folks coming in from out of the area, its very obvious that some of the trail users are creating a situation that will soon render these areas off limits to those of us who tread lightly.

I encourage everyone to speak up if you see folks abusing the trails. I've seen countless videos on youtube of large groups of trail riders going off the main trail and tearing up the land. Its not the popular thing to do but if we don't speak up the areas we have to explore will contiure to shrink.
 
Just a quick post to highlight a trip that I just finished. My son was on spring break this week so we decided to pack up to 2011 Xterra Pro 4x and head from Florida to North Geogia. We left sunday morning and headed to Eton, GA to pick up the "Georgia Traverse". We stopped briefly in Eton to fuel up and buy some firewood. We headed up into the mountains and grabbed a campsite in the Conasauga NF. We drove through a severe cold front on the ride up. While setting up camp we were still getting some drizzle from the tail of the storm and the temperature was dropping quickly. We blazed up a nice fire to keep warm and made some food. We awoke in the morning to ice covering everything. We brewed up some coffee and started to fire before we broke camp and headed east on the GT. A bit down the road you come to a fork which provides a loop throught the forest. The north side is about 60 miles while the south side is about 15 miles. We opted for the long route and enjoyed the whole forest to ourselves. This section is comprised of service roads mostly in good shape. We did need to navigate around some fallen trees. Although we did bring a chainsaw, previous travlers had already cleared a wide enough path for the Xterra.

On the backside of the Conasauga NF we stopped briefly in Blue Ridge, GA for fuel. We continued on the GT and made camp the second night north of Suches, GA on the lower loop. We found a nice primative camp site right on a small creek. This night we would see temperatures of 15 degrees. While was was warm in my sleeping bag, getting up in the morning was a bit brutal. I fired up some coffe and a nice fire and we sat around for a good hour trying to warm up. We broke camp around 9am and headed further east on the GT. Today our big goal was to tackle Tray Mountain.

Tray Mountain was a very spectacular ride. I have watched several videos of this trail, but the videos did it no justice. The ride up the west side of the mountain was uneventful, but cresting the top you are greeted with a sign saying "4x4 ONLY". The path down the east side of the mountain is very adventurous and not for the faint of heart. Once you get a bit down the trail, you are fully committed, there is no turning around. It took us a few hours to finish the trail and my son and I really felt a sense of accomplishment making it through in one piece. We continued east and finished up through Charlie's Creek NW of Clayton, GA. This evening we opted to get a room in Clayton as we were expecting to see another night of 17 degree temps.

On the third day, we back tracked to where Charlie's Creek eneded and picked up the GT track. On this day we would finish the GT around 2pm. We had planned to camp at the end of the traverse, but once we finished we decided we would haul butt up to Ashville NC and take a run at Hurricane Creek Road. Also watched several videos on this run the latest posting in February. It took us about 1.5 hrs to make the drive up there and exiting off HWY 40 onto the start of the trail.

Hurricane Creek road is a unique trail. The conditions are known to change often. On this day, I think we found one of the more difficult conditions. A short drive in we found ourselves on a very narrow and rocky trail. There were lots of large rocks and some very bad washouts. The further we progressed the worse the trail got. We did not see another soul through the entire road. I will be honest, there were a few moments that I was concerned about making it to the end of the road. The mud was thick and slick. The ruts were deep and with 33" tires I had barely enough clearance to make it through. My son and I had a huge sigh of relief when we popped on an improved road. This was short lived when a bit further up this improved road turned to ruts and mud galore. Trying to straddle the ruts in a really bad section, I found myself in some deep doodoo. Only one thing to do, give it a heavy foot and hope for the best. The Xterra couldn't be stopped! At the next junction in the trail, we jumped on another side road and found our way out to Max Patch road. A short drive later on some nice hard packed forest roads, we found ourselves at the parking area for Max Patch. From the parking area it a .3 mile hike to the top. We started the hike up at around 530pm. While frozen we admired the 360 degree vista of all of the surrounding mountains and watched the sun set to the west. The entire max patch was covered in about 3 inches of snow. After making the hike back down, we drove into Maggie Valley and grabbed a hotel for the night.

Last day we headed out from Maggie Valley and stopped briefly in Cherokee to check out the heard of Elk. After a quick stop and some pictures we headed back to Florida. It was a great 5 days of travel and some of the best views and trails in the Southeast. This was a single vehicle trip. We went well prepared and over packed. We never had to use any of our recovery gear. While there were lots of technical obstacles, we were able to overcome everything with 4 wheel low and rear locker. I would say a good 70 percent of the traverse we did in 2wd. The remaining 30 percent was done mostly in 4 wheel high with mostly the backside of Tray Mnt and Hurricane Creek done in 4 low and locked.

I would highly recommend the Georgia Traverse to anyone interested in a few day of fun. There is no distance greater than the average vehicle can make on a tank of gas and you are never terribly far from resources. The portion west of Eton doesn't look very exciting and isn't very mountainous. Maybe sometime we'll come back and explore that last section we skipped.
Thanks for the write up about your trip. Me and my wife and kids are headed to Big Frog Wilderness in the Cherokee forest the weekend of my birthday in the middle of April. It will be our first "official" overland trip together and we are super excited. Sounds like the roads were in pretty good shape. Do you have any advice on tire pressure you ran and specific obstacles a newbie should avoid? I've been talking with Georgia Overland (David) and have a pretty good set of maps (digital and paper) so I am not super worried, but would love your advice.

Thanks!

Kevin
 

Louisiana Overland

Rank V
Member

Traveler I

1,440
Ventress, Louisiana
Member #

11353

Its interesting, we spoke with a local older gentleman at tray mnt and he said there had been talk about shutting down access to the trail due to abuse of the surrounding lands. It was apparent both at Tray Mnt and Hurricane Creek that people are abusing the trails and surrounding lands and this is having an impact on the environment. Whether these are local offenders or folks coming in from out of the area, its very obvious that some of the trail users are creating a situation that will soon render these areas off limits to those of us who tread lightly.

I encourage everyone to speak up if you see folks abusing the trails. I've seen countless videos on youtube of large groups of trail riders going off the main trail and tearing up the land. Its not the popular thing to do but if we don't speak up the areas we have to explore will contiure to shrink.
I made 6 trips to North Georgia since Feb 2018 and have driven the entire traverse. The western portion you skipped is fairly uneventful, although I did spot a bear which made it worth the ride. My last few trips I drive Baton Rouge to Clayton and get on the traverse North of Clayton and drive East to West. A leisurely two to three days from there offers the best(tallulah river road) and worst(Tray MTN Road) that the traverse has to offer.

I have done Tray MTN on 4 of those trips 3 times east to west and once west to east. The west to east trip was an after dark in the snow experience. It was much easier travelling down that side of Tray rather than climbing..even in the dark. My most recent trip was the most difficult as far as the terrain. It was my first trip with no rain, so I dont know if it was that the trail has deteriorated that bad or if all the wash outs seemed worse than when they are full of water, but there were at least 4 spots where I walked through obstacles before driving them and there used to be only one stretch that warranted that sort of scrutiny.

Its a great place to get lost for a few days for sure. I would like to try hurricane Creek Trail some time. Sounds like a fun adventure!