|From Currahee Mountain|
I pay way to much for cable television. And I have way to many cable stations to choose from. Occasionally, however, I get something out of it. A little while ago I was flipping through the stations sometime after midnight and I settled on a rerun of Band of Brothers on HBO. Now I had seen this before back in 2002, but I had just moved to Georgia, hadn’t really thought I was going stay, and was still five years from taking up hiking as a hobby. But I watched just for a moment as the men of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne ran 3 miles up a mountain and realized that mountain was in Georgia. A quick google search showed me that the mountain was less than two hours North of Atlanta up 985 outside of Toccoa. The first good weekend of the years me and my compatriots were headed up Currahee Mountain .
Now the Airborne Rangers were running, but that’s not my cup of tea, so we decided to hike it. A six mile jaunt up and down a 1735 foot mountain was enough for me to consider it a fair challenge. OK, the elevation gain is only about 800 feet which places it about 150 feet more difficult than Stone Mountain . And with the extra distance traveled the steepness should have been mitigated. And the idea of David Schwimmer calling me a “Nancyboy,” meant failure could not be an option (David Schwimmer played Lt. Herbert Sobel in the miniseries who oversaw the training at Camp Toccoa ).
Now, the trail is officially called the Col. Robert Sink Memorial Trail and there is a marker just off Currahee Mountain Road to this affect at the very start of the trail. The path has been kept up even though the military men are long gone and is even driveable, as long as the gate is open, but that would diminish the fun wouldn’t it? You turn up the gravel road and just off the gate about 1/3 of a mile up there is space to park for free. To get the full effect I suggest you head down to the marker on the way down passing up your car (in effect, 2.7 miles up, 3 down, .3 up). Besides, about a block up the road at the bottom, there is a monument worth seeing to the men who trained here and fought for us during World War II.
Like most mountains, the last part of the trail you get to is the most strenuous with the steepest incline being reserved for the last half mile. But the payoff at the top is worth the pounding of your heart and lungs. First there’s a scenic lookout point just before you hit the summit. Alongside this point are some rocks that are covered in graffiti. Normally I speak out in principle against vandalism, but for the most part its pretty to look at (with the exception of the occasional vulgarity which keeps me from recommending it as a family outing.) When you get to the tower go a bit further and there’s a even better lookout position with a view of the piedmont below. As we sat, we watched several black vultures fly around and very near us. Along the trail there’s even a old ranger’s house (at about 2 miles up) you can poke around and in. The warnings say government property and that it is illegal to damage the house, but there’s not warning against trespassing so we went inside.
Hiking the trail was an excellent start of the season challenge. It made me picture the young men of the U.S. Army in the 40’s running this thing daily. It’s a difficult enough walk that it is absolutely no wonder that we won that war. Running the mountain has becoming an annual tradition . And the mountain is also popular with mountain climbers and mountain bikers. So I am happy to announce my discovery of another great summit to climb not too far from Atlanta. And I know you can make it up, after all, you got to be tougher than David Schwimmer, right?
Approximate Time: 2-2.5 hours
Approximate Distance: 6 miles
Trail Surface: Gravel and Red Clay
Features: Mountain Summit, Old Cabin, Majestic Views, Rocks, Physical Challenge, Historical Significance
Overall Rating: A
Scenic Quality: A
Hours of Operation:
Facilities: None within 8 miles
Maps: Not necessary, just stay on the road you would drive on.