Mark Trail Wilderness Extensions

Mark Trail Wilderness Extensions

Approximate size: 4,828 acres
Old-growth known: 18 acres

Designated in 1991, Mark Trail and Blood Mountain are the two newest Wilderness areas in Georgia. Mark Trail Wilderness closely hugs the Appalachian Trail as it stretches for 14 miles between Hogpen Gap and Unicoi Gap, the longest stretch between road crossings in Georgia. Mark Trail also contains the Horsetrough Falls Trail and part of the Jacks Knob Trail. The area is also famous for Chattahoochee Spring, the start of the Chattahoochee River.

The two southern extensions would expand the narrow waist of the Wilderness area where the Appalachian Trail runs within 800 feet of the boundary. Strengthening the Wilderness would also strengthen the corridor for plant and animal migration. The southwestern extension contains the only two old-growth stands known in the extensions, both small pockets of white oak and scarlet oak. An abandoned mine shaft in that extension may serve as habitat for rare species. The southwestern extension also rises prominently in the stunning views from the Richard B Russell Scenic Highway.

The northwestern extension would complete protection of the Jacks Knob Trail. Low Gap Creek courses through a gorge in the southeastern extension. One of the wildest streams in north Georgia, it alternates between cascades and rock slides on its way to Low Gap Campground and eventually the Chattahoochee River. The highest of the cascades is the equal of many other cascades that have trails leading to them. Protecting this area would benefit the many people that trout fish and tube a short ways downstream and the millions that depend on the Chattahoochee River much farther downstream.

Help us protect this 16,000-acre oasis of waterfalls, old-growth, rare species, panoramic views, and world-class trails.


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