Grab your boots and head for the wilderness.
Extreme outdoor adventure awaits!
Are you looking for a hunting, backpacking or horseback riding destination that offers spectacular scenery, abundant game, quiet and solitude? Escape the “hustle and bustle” of the city and “loose yourself in the wild” of  of northern Georgia.
Located between Blue Ridge and Cherry Log in Gilmer County, Georgia, the Rich Mountain Wilderness is a remote wilderness area within the Chattahoochee National Forest. There are 13,276 acres that make up the spectacular wilderness. In 1986, the U.S. government designated 9,476 of these acres as a protected wilderness within the National Wilderness Preservation System. Managed by the United States Forest Service, area exhibits a rich botanical diversity and an outstanding wealth of wildlife. Black bear are plentiful, sharing the second-growth hardwood forest habitat with raccoons, wild hogs, squirrels, ruffled grouse, wild turkey, woodcocks, quail and deer.
The 4,050-foot peak of Rich Mountain, from which the wilderness draws its name, is the highest elevation in the wilderness. Because it is a designated wilderness, logging, mining and road building are not allowed. The trails are not maintained. Despite the lack of established trails, hunters, horseback riders, mountain bikers and hikers access the area by a network of old logging roads and skid trails.
The United States Forest Service invites visitors to explore America’s wilderness areas. The USFS advises, “The Rich Mountain Wilderness is part of the 109 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude.” The USFS reminds guests, “Please follow the requirements and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Rich Mountain Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.”
Similar to the land that makes up the Cohutta Mountains, a heavy layer of black porter’s loamy topsoil blesses the region. The nutrient-rich soil supports a spectacular display of spring wildflowers and summer woodland herbs. Many rare or endangered species are sustained in the nurturing forest environment. Supported by approximately 60 inches of rainfall a year, dense stands of mountain ash, basswood and black cherry trees grace the hillsides.
South of Turniptown Mountain, trekkers can explore solid stands of old-growth timber. On north-facing coves, impressive boulder fields are brightened by the spectacular colors and scents of mountain wildflowers, flame azalea, laurel and rhododendron. Throughout the wilderness, numerous sparking trout streams and cascading waterfalls delight visitors.
Outdoor enthusiasts wandering the high ridges of the wilderness will find the old campsites made by Cherokee Indian Tribes that once hunted and lived in the region. On the north side of the mountain, remnants of white settlements date to approximately 1910.
Gold irrevocably changed the history of Georgia. Gold was first discovered on the lands of the Cherokee Nation near Dahlonega, Georgia in Lumpkin County. The discovery led to the displacement of the Cherokee People and the politically expedient dispersal of their lands. History notes that the Georgia Gold Belt encompassed than 500 gold mines in 37 different Georgia counties. Exploration efforts produced approximately 870,000 troy ounces of gold between 1928 and the middle of the 20th century, when most commercial gold mining ceased. However, the largest gold nugget ever found in Georgia was gleaned from a creek that drains the Rich Mountain Wilderness.
Visitors to the wilderness should come prepared with adequate supplies, clothing and survival gear to cope with unexpected changes in weather conditions or trail conditions. Updated topographical maps, a compass are essential backcountry tools. For more information and assistance in planning your adventure, contact the United States Forest Service, Toccoa Ranger District, 6050 Appalachian Highway, Blue Ridge, Georgia, 30513 or call (706) 632-3031.