Commonly Backpacked · River/Creek
Need to Know
For more information, visit the Benton MacKaye Trail Association's website
Points of Interest:
The trail begins at the Ocoee River, 1.6 miles west of the Ocoee Whitewater Center, site of the 1996 Olympics. Water is released from the three dams on a schedule for recreation, especially during the summer months and the area can be very crowded and busy. Views of the Ocoee River Gorge can be seen as one climbs up Dry Pond Lead. Much of this section of trail passes through the Little Frog Wilderness and Little Frog Addition Wilderness Study Area and thus there are no diamond blazes and the trail must be maintained with primitive tools such as crosscut and axe.
Starting from the Thunder Rock CG overflow lot (WP 1, mile 92.0), run out the entrance road and over the Ocoee River bridge. Carefully cross US 64 and head up the BMT/Drypond Lead Trail #76. Eventually you'll enter wilderness and will lose the white diamond blazes. At mile 94.2, pass the Rock Creek Trail intersection (WP 4) coming in from the east. This trail follows Rock Creek for 5.4 miles back to US64. At mile 96.3, the Drypond Lead Trail (WP 5) goes straight and soon intersects with Kimsey Mountain Highway (0.4 miles) but the BMT turns left. This can be a confusing and easy to miss trail intersection. The left turn is just past the wilderness sign. At mile 97.6 the BMT crosses under power lines at Deep Gap (WP 2), the first access to Kimsey Mountain Highway. The trail continues however, to mile 99.0 (WP 3), where it crosses Kimsey Mountain Highway. Part of this section is in wilderness, so blazes are not ever-present.
The Thunder Rock Campground at mile 92.0 (WP 1), is a USFS class A/B campground with 41 sites, potable water, flush toilets, and showers in season. As this CG is popular with kayakers and rafters in the summer months sites may be difficult to find. There are no other primitive designated campsites on this stretch of trail, though sites can be found using LNT ethics.
Potable water is available at the Thunder Rock Campground and at the Ocoee Whitewater Center, accessed via the Rhododendron Trail
#335 (see map). Along the trail, water is available 0.2 miles down Rock Creek Trail (WP 6, B) and 0.2 miles west on the Kimsey Mountain Highway crossing (WP 7, A) and must be sterilized.
Shared By: Richard Harris