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Tips for father son trip to the Gahuti Trail in Fort Mountain

My son (14 yr old) and I are planning a 2 night backpacking trip to the Gahuti Trail in Fort Mountain Georgia in July.  This will be my / our first trip staying in a National Park and his first multi-day backpacking trip.  Wondering if anyone has hiked that trail and may have any suggestions or recommendations to make the most out of it and make sure that I do all that I can to make it enjoyable for him (so that he'll want to do it again).  At this point, we're planning to spend a night at camp site #2 and a night at camp site #3 and just enjoy a short hike between the two as our day in the woods.  Below is a quick summary of what we've done so far and appreciate any suggestions on what I've missed, overlooked, etc.

- We both have backpacks (or will).  I will be using my Gregory Paragon 58 and we got him a Gregory Paragon 48 that should arrive today or tomorrow.  He's comfortable with mine but it's a little big for him (he's 6'3" with a 21" torso but slender).  We're going to do a few practice trips with full gear up Pine Mountain (a 1.6 mile trail with about 1,000 ft of elevation gain) to make sure that it's a good fit but we're optimistic.

- We both have tents.  I'm very comfortable with mine and we've been practicing setup, takedown, packing, etc. with his and he's good with it.

- We've planned our food.  For a 2 night trip, it's pretty straightforward but we've got 2 breakfasts, 2 dinners and snacks for during the day.  We both have stoves, cookpots and fuel.

- We've got clothes.

- We've got Promethean to treat the clothes, packs, tents, socks, shoes, hats (we have hats), etc.

- We've got Off to treat our skin


I've heard a few folks say that there's been a good bit of bear activity in the area, so I'm kindof excited that he may get to see a black bear on his first trip but I've never carried bear spray.  Now that I've got my kid with me though (he's huge but he's still my kid 🙂 ), should I consider taking it?

Has anyone hiked that trail that can offer any insight that I've overlooked?

Thanks in advance!!

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4 Replies

WOW! sounds like you're all set!

I see this State Park borders the gigantic Chatahoochee National Forest.

If I recommend 1 thing to folks, it's bypass the parks and find a good river trail loop. 

That way, you can camp wherever you want and as a bonus...have campfires!!!

I'm looking right now, as I type, at the trail network that runs along multitudes of creeks, like the 'pinhoti trail'.

here's the link to the maps I'm looking at on (this part is free)

I also stuck to national parks (shenandoah NP), until I discovered that the NF's are gigantic, with so much more variety, almost no restrictions, and allow things like...campfires!

OMG! I now see you have the Cohutta Wilderness there also!  You MUST do that first!  It has a wonderful trail network, and along streams no less!

You just drive up to the trailhead, get out of your car and start walking, that's the extent of the rules.

good luck, post pictures!  Let me know if you want me to plot a short loop for you and your son and send it too you.

REI Member Since 1979

We've done part of the Pinhote trail and loved it.  Beautiful trail and unbelievable views within a few miles of the trailhead.  I'd love to hike the entire trail but the long sections of road walking aren't appealing.

Anyway, as far as getting out of the NP, probably not for this hike.  We've scouted it out a bit, watched a few YouTube videos of other folks that have hiked it and my sons comfort level for that trail right now is high.  I want to capitalize on that.

Thanks for the quick response and awesome feedback!  Will try to remember to grab some pictures of the trip and post them.  Super excited.

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So, very, VERY excited, it's official now.  My son got his new backpack (that's an entirely other story :)) and yesterday I got our campsites booked for our trip.  I had been lurking on the reservations page for about a week and there was *nothing* booked and then yesterday, all of a sudden, stuff started filling up.  Thankfully, I was able to get the sites that we wanted booked for the days that we were planning.  The only thing that I'm still on the fence about is bear spray.   I've never carried it, but I've never been backpacking a few miles out with my son, so any suggestions / recommendations appreciated.  I think that it'd be awesome for him to get to see a black bear on his first trip out and I *think* he'd be fine with it, but I'm a big fan of plan a, plan b and plan c (for when plans a and b fail).

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@nathanu Great to hear you got your campsite squared away!

I've lived in Alaska for over six years now and I have carried bear spray nearly every time I've hit the trails. Bear spray is useful, easy to use, pretty lightweight, and less harmful to wildlife (and humans) than a firearm. However, bear spray is no substitute for appropriate behaviors in bear country. No matter what you carry for protection, remember to handle your food appropriately (per the guidelines of rangers) and know how to react in a bear encounter (grizzly bears, black bears, and mother's with cubs can all require different behaviors from you). It is also advisable to make your presence known to bears with bells or singing (my favorite safety technique) to reduce the likelihood of encountering a bear on the trail in the first place.

All of that being said, bear spray is designed to create a cloud of spray that is inhaled by the bear as it is breathing during a charge. It is not, as is a common misconception, similar to mace with a stream of spray that you attempt to get in the eyes or mouth. With that in mind, you want to remember that the direction of spray and conditions are really important. If you are in the open on a windy day coming around a bend and startling a bear, for example, all the spray could disperse before the bear gets to it, or worse, blow back on you and injure you or the people you are with.

Counter Assault makes inert bear spray canisters designed to practice with and they are very helpful in learning what it feels like to deploy bear spray. The best I can describe it is when you use a higher pressure nozzle on your garden hose. Additionally, the can is only designed to spray for a few seconds, so you want to be careful and sure it is necessary.

Taking all of this into consideration, I would err on the side of carrying bear spray in any environment there is a chance I could encounter a bear. Coupling bear spray with appropriate behaviors while traveling in bear country can go a long way to increasing the likelihood of a positive experience in the backcountry.

Hopefully this helps!

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