Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chattahoochee National Forest: Sosebee Cove Trail (Blog Hike #513)

Trail: Sosebee Cove Trail
Hike Location: Chattahoochee National Forest
Geographic Location: south of Blairsville, GA
Length: 0.4 miles
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: April 2015
Overview: A short lasso-shaped loop through an area of high botanical diversity.

Directions to the trailhead: From Blairsville, drive south on US 19/129 9.8 miles to SR 180 and turn right on SR 180.  Drive SR 180 west 3 miles to the signed, paved, roadside parking area on the right for Sosebee Cove.

The hike: Tucked in a tight ravine on the north face of Slaughter Mountain, tiny Sosebee Cove is a treasure of botanical diversity.  The cove’s large trees create the feel of an old growth forest even though all of this area was logged in the early 1900’s.  A wide array of wildflowers and other shade-tolerant plants add to the cove’s interest.
The cove used to contain several hiking trails, but a recent trail reconfiguration left only the single lasso-shaped loop described here.  While certainly not a hiking destination in its own right, Sosebee Cove makes a nice little add on if you come to hike at one of this area’s many premier hiking destinations, which include Vogel State Park, Lake Winfield Scott, Blood Mountain, or Raven Cliff Falls.  I very much enjoyed my short tour through this interesting cove.
Trailhead at Sosebee Cove
From the roadside parking area, descend a short but steep set of wooden steps.  At the base of the steps, you used to have the option of going left and right, but the trail going right is now blocked by a wooden fence.  Thus, you need to turn left and descend gradually on the somewhat narrow trail, which is marked with lime-green rectangular paint blazes.
300 feet later, you pass a large yellow buckeye tree on the right.  The trail curves right as it continues to descend with SR 180 now nearly 20 feet above you to the left.  Just past 0.1 miles, the trail splits to form its loop.  For no particular reason, I chose to turn sharply right and use the trail going straight as my return route, thus hiking the loop counterclockwise.
Descending past large yellow buckeye
The trail continues descending and crosses the cove’s creek on a short wooden footbridge.  At 0.2 miles, you reach the trail’s large wooden dedication sign.  The sign informs you that this trail was built in 1958 as a memorial to Arthur Woody, an early ranger of Chattahoochee National Forest who surveyed large tracts of land including Sosebee Cove.
Bloodroot in bloom
The trail switches back at the sign and descends to its lowest point where it crosses the cove’s creek again, this time without the aid of a bridge.  When I hiked here in early April, large patches of bloodroot were already in bloom, and the trillium looked like they were ready to bloom any day.  Now climbing, another gradual switchback closes the loop, and a short uphill walk brings you back to the parking area to complete the hike.

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