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Benton MacKaye Trail

Hiking
Located in Blue Ridge

Named for Benton MacKaye, the Massachusetts forester/regional planner who proposed the Appalachian Trail, this hiking trail near Blue Ridge, GA features remarkable changes in terrain and too many modern intrusions. While the Appalachian Trail follows the eastern crest of the Appalachian Mountains, the Benton MacKaye follows the western crest. The origin of this challenging trail, which can be steep at times, is Springer Mountain at the Appalachian Trail sign. For the first few miles the trail winds down Springer, occasionally rejoining and sharing the same path as the first trail. The BMT follows a portion of the original AT, which was extensively rerouted after 1957. Looping further west, the Benton MacKaye Trail crosses Chester Creek a couple of times before Three Forks (Chester is one of the creeks that make up Three Forks).

Almost exactly 1 mile past the footbridge over Chester at Three Forks the Benton MacKaye turns left (and the Duncan Ridge Trail begins, leaving the Appalachian Trail for the last time until it rejoins America's Footpath 250 miles further north. The Duncan Ridge Trail shares the footpath with the Benton MacKaye until shortly after crossing Route 60. Unlike its eastern brother the Appalachian Trail, the Benton MacKaye does not wind through federally protected land at all times. Its not uncommon to find yourself in the midst of summer homes and roads with traffic that can be heavy at times. Wind-blown, sun-dried farms and outbuildings can be easily spotted, their dingy gray in sharp contrast to the brilliant greens of summer.

The BMK-DRT undulates, rising, falling and looping much like the AT until it begins the descent to the Toccoa River. A long footbridge spans the waterway. From the river the BMK-DRT rises and follows the ridge of Tooni Mountain. Leaving Tooni the paths descend and cross State Road 60 (a busy road), then climbing Wallalah, Licklog and Rhodes Mountain, where the Duncan Ridge veers off the east. From this...