From the Ellijay Square, travel west on GA 52 for 9.5 miles to FS 18. There is a sign for Lake Conasauga Recreation Area; turn right. After 1.3 miles the pavement ends. At the fork, bear left over a one-lane bridge. At 3.5 miles turn sharply to the right onto FS 68. At 4.5 miles is a good picnic area, and at 5.7 miles is Holly Creek Checking Station. At 6 miles is a three-way junction with FS 64. At the FS 68/FS 64 three-way intersection, At the three-way junction, take FS 64 right for 4.4 miles to the East Cowpen parking lot. Rough Ridge Trail begins .4 mile on East Cowpen Trail starting at its southern end.
Closest town: Ellijay
For more information:Cohutta Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service at (706) 695-6737
Some roads are closed depending on weather conditions, so it is recommended that one call the Cohutta Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service at (706) 695-6737 in advance of a trip to check road conditions.
Rough Ridge Trail is a 7-mile interior trail that is accessed either from the East Cowpen (high elevation) or Jacks River Trail. The trail is most commonly accessed from the Three Forks Mountain Trailhead which is the southeast high elevation terminus for the East Cowpen Trail.
A moderately difficult to strenuous, blue- or white-blazed trail, providing access to Jacks River. Ridge trail that descends to a hardwood cove and then becomes very steep and sometimes rocky as it continues to descend to the river.
East Cowpen Trail gains over 200 feet in elevation to its junction with Rough Ridge Trail at mile 0.4. The junction is on the right indicated by a trail sign.
From there it runs 4.6 miles tracing the top of Rough Ridge occasionally dropping to either the east or west side of the ridge for a spell gradually losing elevation. This 4.3-mile section of the trail has decent winter views and is fairly wide and easy hiking along the ridgeline with an occasional descent to a gap and a short ascent back up.
At mile 4.6 the trail descends to a small spring on the right and a sign stating No Horses Beyond this Point. From the spring there is a sharp ascent of .1 mile. The next 1.7 miles the trail begins a stair-step approach to Jacks River losing over 1000 feet. The trail alternates between an easy level stretch on the ridge interrupted by descents to a lower part of the ridge.
Approximate hike length: 7 miles.