Took an overnight trip with my dog Jade to this secluded trail in the Cohutta Mountains which features a historic Cherokee gathering site, incredibly scenic mountain views, thick and mysterious hemlock groves, and a nice waterfall at the endpoint. This hike is rated difficult/strenuous due to the 2,200 foot elevation ascent on the return trip; however, the views and remoteness of this hike make it well worth the effort. The total time for hiking this trail there-and-back is approximately 4.5 to 5 hours.
Directions to the trailhead: From Chatsworth, GA drive 4.1 miles north on US 411 to the city of Eton. Turn right onto CCC Camp Road at the traffic light (if you’re curious, CCC stands for Civilian Conservation Corps, which was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 – 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25 as part of the New Deal). Drive 10 miles and turn left on Forest Road 68/Old CCC Camp Road. Drive 2.4 miles to reach Holly Creek Gap. Stay left on FR 68 and head towards Lake Conasauga. At 5.9 miles you will again veer left to stay on FR 68. At 9.3 miles you will reach the Tearbritches and Emery Creek trailheads. The Emery Creek trailhead is to the left through the large group camping area. Always expect the unexpected: on this trip a tree had fallen over FR 68 and the only way for me to get around was to climb a steep muddy bank with my SUV at a very awkward angle, and with the tree just inches from my driver-side window. 4-W drive came in handy that day.
The trailhead begins at the upper left corner of the large group campsite (which used to be a gathering spot for the Cherokee people). Again, be warned, the hike out is uphill for 2,200 feet and is not for the faint of heart; the sign says it all. “Strenuous.”
Head down the path and reach the overlook at 0.3 miles. This overlook is fantastic and provides you with a picturesque view of Fort Mountain and the surrounding Emery Creek valley.
After the overlook, the Emery Creek trail descends into the Emery Creek watershed. Eventually you will begin descending the southside of the Cohutta Mountain via switchbacks. Soon you will leave the ridge by making an abrupt right turn and you’ll be greeted with more scenic views of the surrounding wilderness. You will reach a large creek at 2.2 miles. From here a small waterfall is visible upstream. As you continue, the path eventually becomes an old roadbed after the creek. The trail may become difficult to discern in some areas, so keep an eye out for the blazes. At 3.6 miles you will reach the now closed FS Road 78E. To find the trail from here is a bit tricky, so take note. The trail will turn left on the defunct FS road and will veer off to the right after a few feet. You will know you’re on the right path if you cross Emery Creek coming in from the left. Here the stream crossings become a bit trickier as the water stream is now larger. You will reach the spur trail to Emery Creek Falls at 4.2 miles on your right. This is where I decided to set up camp for the night. Just for reference, the falls are also accessible via a 2-mile path from the lower Emery Creek Trailhead. However, the lower trail is not secluded and does not include the stunning views that you experienced on your journey. Hope this post was informative for those looking for a secluded hike with views and a waterfall in the Cohutta Wilderness area. Enjoy the hike/views/waterfall, leave no trace, and safe travels.