Cohutta Wilderness, Jacks River Trail—Epworth, Ga.

Vast, well-preserved Cohutta wilderness is home to one of the best trails in the Southeast. Jacks River Trail follows its namesake, and crosses occasionally, so don’t count on staying completely dry. The trail offers access to lush greenery, clear swimming holes and ideal camping spots. The full hike is 16.2 miles long, which makes it a perfect weekend hike for those with some hiking experience.

The 37,000 acre Cohutta Wilderness contains 90 miles of hiking and backpacking trails, two of which follow the Jacks River and Conasauga River. Trail head park lots are located around the wilderness perimeter and provide hikers with access to the trails. Three Forks, Betty Gap, Chestnut Lead and Tearbritches Trail-heads are open early March through December 31 each year due to winter road closures. The trails associated with these parking areas remain open, but must accessed from alternate trail heads. Hikers and backpackers should leave a detailed trip plan with someone expecting their return since cell service is unpredictable in this mountainous area.

Some trail heads are inaccessible from January 1 through early March due to annual winter gate closures.