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Benton MacKaye Trail

The Benton MacKaye Trail stretches nearly 300 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Davenport Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The lower 200 miles (closest to Chattanooga) follow the western crest of the Blue Ridge Moutains.

Whigg meadow on the Benton MacKaye Trail

The trail is named for Benton MacKaye, the forester, conservationist, and co-founder of the Wilderness Society who originally envisioned this route for the Appalachian Trail (AT). Passing through GA, TN, and NC, it forms a giant figure-8 loop with the AT, a total distance of over 500 miles.

Related Activities

 Camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, whitewater

Distance from Outdoor Chattanooga

1.5 hours / 65 miles

Map(s) and directions

Although there are many access points along the 290 miles of trail, the most convenient access point from Chattanooga is at Thunder Rock Campground, adjacent to TVA Powerhouse No. 3 (hydroelectic) on US HWY 64, a half-hour east of Cleveland, TN or a mile west of the Ocoee Whitewater Center.

Cherokee National Forest Map of Thunder Rock Campground

Activity Type

Leisure, day hikes, overnight backpacking, family with trails ranging from easy to strenuous

Trail Maps and Guide Books


Open year round


Backcountry camping with permit

Dog Friendly

Yes, on leash

Contact Information

Benton MacKaye Trail Association
P.O. Box 6
Cherry Log, GA 30522

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