Benton MacKaye Trail in Georgia


Old photo of Benton macKaye with Appalachian Mountians ini the background.  Courtesy of ATC.

The Benton MacKaye Trail, named after the Massachusetts forester and regional planner who originally envisioned the continuous trail along the crest of the Appalachian Mountain chain (A.K.A. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail), is a primitive, backcountry hiking trail with 80 miles in Georgia alone, and more than 280 miles in the southeast over all. It connects with the Pinhotti Trail and Appalachian Trail, forming loops ideal for day hikes and journeys fit for long distance backpacking.  Passing through the Cohutta and Big Frog Wildernesses, expect strenuous difficulty levels, similar to that of the AT in Georgia while traversing this trail. The BMT in Georgia offers a plethora of opportunities to experience the rarely-seen side of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.

At a Glance

Best Season: Summer, Spring & Fall
Restrictions: No more than 12 hikers together can travel in the wilderness together at one time.
Following the important rules of Leave No Trace while in the wilderness is imperative. 
You must also follow these important guidelines while traveling in the wilderness.
Information Center: The Benton MacKaye Trail in Georgia crosses two of our districts:
The Blue Ridge Ranger District 706-745-6928 and the Conasauga Ranger District 706-695-6736.
The Benton MacKaye Trail Association, our partner organization made up of a dedicated group of volunteers who are the sole maintainers of the BMT, provide detailed and up-to-date information on the trail, maps and activities associated with the trail. If you would like to get involved and become a member of this remarkable team, please visit the membership page of their website.

General Information

General Notes:


There are 16 trailheads/access points in Georgia for the Benton MacKaye Trail. Please visit our partner organization’s (The Benton MacKaye Trail Association) website for detailed information on their specific locations, directions, and maps of the corresponding areas.

The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare for the trip.  Click here for important safety and seasonal information about hiking the Benton MacKaye in Georgia.



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Access Points on Blue Ridge Ranger District:
Springer Mountain
Three Forks Trailhead
Sandy Bottoms/Toccoa River Trailhead

Access Points on Conasauga Ranger District:
Dally Gap Trailhead
Watson Gap Trailhead
Dyer Gap Trailhead
Bushy Head Trailhead

Day Hiking


There are numerous areas to day hike on the BMT ranging from easy to strenuous. 

Blue Ridge Ranger District:
Section 1 of the BMT offers a superb, easy to moderate day hike going south to north, at approximately 6 miles long, and goes from Springer Mountain to Three Forks Trailhead.  This section shares a small section with the Appalachian Trail and offers great winter views of Springer Mountain.
Aska Trail System (specifically the Stanley Gap Trail)

Conasauga Ranger District:
Penitentiary Branch Trail (3.5mi): hikers can enjoy this relatively short day hikeor, if one prefers, go for a longer day-hike option by following this trail to the Jacks River Fields trail. Once connected, continue to follow it up river to meet up with Dally Gap Trail, which forms a large loop ending back at the BMT. This loop is a longer hike (approx. 20 miles) with 18 river crossings, hence not suitable for winter hikes, but ideal for spring and summer travels.
Jacks River Fields Trail
Hemptop Trail
South Fork Trail

For more day-hiking opportunities see the Benton MacKaye Trail Association website.

Nature Viewing

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