My First Hickey (Gap)

Despite weather forecasts warning of a frog-strangler on Saturday/Sunday, I opted to sashay over to “Hickey Gap Campground” near Crandall, Ga. I was disappointed to learn that the area is not named for the slobbery-type of hickey one may or may not have received in high school by a boy named…(I digress) but it’s named after the Hickey family who used to reside there.

Hickey Gap Campsite:

It has five campsites and a vault toilet (Bring your own TP!). The place was a smidge crowded because there was a fraternity reunion group with RV’s occupying the other end of the campground. Still, the area was bordered by the lovely Mill Creek. Each site had a tent, lantern pole, parking for 2 cars and a lovely view of the water. This was a car-camping gathering, so the degrees of ‘roughing it’ varied significantly by those who joined in. (I didn’t take pics, I apologize!) Here’s a link to campsite and deets, the photos there are accurate: http://goo.gl/mw7aB

The road above the campground was occasionally interrupted by locals with loud mufflers & hollering, but for the most part, it was quiet. The Park Ranger visited us on Friday night – they enforce the 2 cars/5 persons per site rules and write tickets if not adhered to. (Consider yourself warned)

On Friday, a few of us took an unnamed approach trail in the Cohutta Wilderness that connects to Hickory Creek Trail and Conasauga River Trail. A good portion of the trail is a wide forest service road (but not open to vehicle traffic). There is a note on the trailhead about vehicle break-ins, so make sure nothing valuable is open. Despite being February, there were several vehicles parked at the trailhead, but we never encountered anyone else on our hike.

 

The trail is primarily a gradual descent. It was in good condition. A few spots were a bit rocky, rooty, uneven due to erosion, but for the most part, you can enjoy the views. The uneven sections were the exception, and I tried to photograph the ‘worst’ parts, which weren’t bad at all.

 

After about half an hour, and some gentle switchbacks, we began to hear water…. hints that lush vegetation and creek views were just around the corner. Dove (chocolate Lab) and Chloe tested out the water in various sections for us.

The trail passes by numerous primitive campsites with fire rings – each one more awesome than the other.

 

We eventually crossed the stream over a few rocks

and came upon this trail sign & camping area (Trail is for Hickory Creek Trail & Conasauga River Trail)

I went upstream, the views were luring me to continue exploring, but we had to head back to camp as we’d be pushing it to get back to camp by sunset. We were *just* getting to ‘the good stuff!”

 

A few other random photos:

I am definitely coming back to camp down here. I was warned by someone who frequents this area that there is a lot of bear activity in this area, so make sure to practice safe bear camping. 

 Consaugua Lake & Campground:

On Saturday, as a group, we decided to hike up to Lake Conasauga. Because the Forest Service Road was closed (opens in March), we hiked up the road.

Hike to the Lake, around the Lake and back to the parking area was approximately 9 miles.The hike was uneventful for the most part. A few pretty overlooks, 

but otherwise I looked for prints, poop, and trash. Since we had about a dozen dogs with us, the likelihood of any animal encounters was next to nil.

When we arrived at the Lake Conasauga Campground, we stopped for lunch. The camp area has numerous sites facing the water, it has a comfort station with toilets and running water but no showers. It looks like a nice place to camp if you like fishing.

The dogs really enjoyed playing in the lake.

Then we took the trail around the lake. It was paved in some sections, bridges crossing water, and lovely views of the lake. No inclines. Grandma could have handled this one.

Views along the trail

A few interesting random things that caught my eye

Mill Creek Trail:
On Saturday night/Sunday we had a fair amount of rain. Most everyone decided to pack up and head out. I was still itching for some actual hiking. So 3 of us took the Mill Creek Trail downstream. Because of the heavy rain, it was slippery in many sections. The views were awesome and I want to go back and explore on my own when I can take my time. There are three or four noteworthy waterfalls, numerous cascasdes and even a rope swing (although February isn’t ideal rope-swing weather!)

 

A few notes about the Mill Creek Trail – bring poles, you will be hiking over rocks that are extremely close to the water, sometimes in the water. Make sure you wear shoes with good tread. It was raining and slippery between the roots, mud, leaves, pinestraw, moss, rock slime…

I’ll be updating with gpx files soon.

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