Backpacking Trips with Trust The Trail

Jacks River Trail Backpacking Trip

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Date(s) - 10/26/2019 - 10/27/2019

Rendezvous Point Jacks River Trail, Eligay Georgia

Rendezvous Point Jacks River Trail


Jacks River Trail is an adventure all to itself. With 42 river crossings, and trail intersections that might not be easy to navigate, it will turn any backpacker from novice to experienced in just 16.8 miles.


Jacks River Trail is a trail of two stories. Upper Jacks River and Lower Jacks River. In 2018 there was a major flood and caused severe trail damage in some spots and was closed. Mainly in the Lower section of Jacks River. In some spots the River could be high above your knees. You will need to have some backpacking experience and will HAVE to carry Hiking Poles. No exceptions!!! This is a Gorge. So weather and rain storms will play a huge part in the GO, NO GO on this trail (we do have a plan B).

To make this work, you will have to trust another person to drive your vehicle back to our rendezvous.**

How we will do this:

We will bring 2 groups.
Group 1 will start at Upper Jacks River Trail (Dally Gap) and hike down (18) river crossings to camp at a trail intersection along the Jacks River.  Approximately 7.5 miles. The originating meeting place is at Starbucks in Elijay, GA – where we can all decide on the carpoolers. We can leave extra vehicles at the McDonald’s in Blue Ridge (on the way) which is right at the intersection of Hyw 5 and 515 ( we have done this several times before).  It will take at least an hour to get to the trailhead from Blue Ridge.

Group 2 will start at the Lower Jacks River Trail and hike up (24) river crossings and camp with Group 1. Approximately 9.5 miles.
Depending on which Group you are in, some of us will meet in Elijay first, however most in Group 2 will meet in Chatsworth, GA at the McDonald’s where we will decide on Carpoolers, and leave the extra vehicles at McDonald’s (we’ve done this before as well).

There will be a limit of 6 people in each group.

The campsite is large and flat. We will have plenty of room and more than likely have a campfire. We will share the stories of our river crossings adventure and find out who comes clean to falling into the River and who remains victorious!

The next morning we will do “the key exchange ritual” where we well wish the other group good luck and pass them our car keys to return at the end of the day at our rendezvous meeting point.

Our Rendezvous will be back in Elijay where we will all meet to have dinner together to close out the adventure – libations optional!

To complete the Jacks River Trail requires 42 river crossings which can be difficult in high water. For this reason, the trail has been broken into a North Section and South Section.

Upper Jacks River Trail South Section: The Upper Section of the trail begins at its southeastern (high elevation) terminus at Dally Gap and continues approximately 7.5 miles and 18 river crossings to the Penitentiary Branch Trail Intersection and Jacks River Trail. From Dally Gap, the trail starts off wide and level going south. At mile .8 the trail comes to the Benton Mackay Trail(BMT) on its right going north. Another 50 yards and the BMT trail departs to the south. Around mile 2 the trail joins Jacks River coming in from the left. At mile 2.4 the trail comes to the 1st crossing. It is a fording right to left looking downstream at a slight diagonal. The trail continues on the left bank of the river arriving at the 2nd crossing at mile 2.8. After the 4th crossing to the junction with Penitentiary Branch creek, there are an additional 14 river crossings. The trail crosses the river, travels a short distance, and crosses again all the time winding its way northwest.

The trail arrives at the junction with Penitentiary Branch Trail after the 18th-river-crossing. Penitentiary Branch is a 3.6-mile interior trail that ascends over a 1000 feet in elevation to its junction with the Hemp Top Trail on the Blue Ridge. Congrats! You just did 18 River Crossings on the Jacks River Trail.

Lower Jacks River Norther Section: The Trail starts out relatively flat on a old road bed from long ago. It's a great way to warm up your hiking legs because there A LOT of crossings to go. The first crossing is 2.1 miles from the trail head.  In less than a mile after our first river crossing, there are 9 river crossings in 1.7 miles. At horsehoe bend, there are 12 river crossings in 2.7 miles. The trail at this point can be somewhat challanging to navigate and blow down from trees are a real possibility. At the halfway point will be the big payoff - Jacks River Falls. An 80 foot cascading powerful waterfall that will take your breath away and invite you in for a quick swim. This is a good climb up in elevation and will get your heart pumping. After Jacks River is 2 more crossings before the intersection of Jacks River Trail and Penitentiary Branch Trail.  Congrats, you have just hiked 9.5 miles and have done 24 river crossings!


The Plan is to get to the trail heads as early as possible. We have to be on the road to the trail heads no later than 9:00 AM in the morning. We have to meet at our designated meeting place (whether it's Elijay or Chatsworth) by 8:00 for Elijay, or 9:15 AM for Chatsworth. This will be a long day of backpacking both days, please be prepared. 

Both Groups will be decided by Scott & Ariane. Ariane will lead Group 1. Scott will lead Group 2.

Each Group will have to share a vehicle with the other Group in order to be back on Sunday at a reasonable time. It's a 60 mile difference between trail heads. 

Both Groups meet at the same designated campsite and camp together as a group. Next morning we switch car keys and hike towards the other end of the trail. The current plan is to switch groups with Scott & Ariane, though this is subject to change. On the second day - Group 1 Scott will lead, Group 2 Ariane now leads. 

We hike back to vehicles, then will meet for dinner in Elijay, GA - share stories of our final results...who bit it and who remained dry! Libations are likely! 


Bookings are closed for this event.

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In 2003 I completed a Thru-Hike on the Appalachian Trail. Since then I have over 12,000 miles underfoot and 20 years of backpacking, and camping experience. Certifications include WFA, WFR, LNT Trainer, and belong to AORE. Have been guiding backpacking trips for over 10 years. The outdoors has taught me one thing. Trusting the Trail! really does provide everything a person needs.

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