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Home / Hikes / Benton MacKaye Starter Hike

Benton MacKaye, Section 3


Route 60 to Toccoa River Swinging Bridge

A great introduction to backpacking.

Event Backpacking
Location Benton MacKaye Trail, Section 3, near Suches, GA
Date(s) & Time
Duration Overnight
Difficulty (1 - 6) 1. Easy
Distance 3.5 miles, one way
Adult Leaders   Albert Bodamer
  Cost   Bring money for fast food stop on way home.
Who may attend Glastonberry Parents and their children
The Benton MacKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail share this in-and-out backtrack route between GA 60 and the Toccoa River and the highlight of this section is an impressive suspension bridge over the river.

The Georgia Appalachian Trail Conference and the U.S. Forest Service constructed the 260 bridge in 1977, and it offers an excellent view of the Toccoa River in both directions.

The trail begins near Tooni Gap located on GA 60 at 2,028 feet, and the path heads southbound over Tooni Mountain toward the river. In the first mile, the Benton MacKaye and Duncan Ridge Trails make an ascent of nearly 600 feet up Tooni Mountain.

Tooni Mountain is actually a series of small knobs across a long ridgeline with elevations that range from 2,396 to 2,720 feet. The result is a bouncy ride for hikers as they traverse these knobs before the Benton MacKaye and Duncan Ridge Trails make their final descent after 3.5 miles to the Toccoa River at 1,920 feet. At the water, the trail meets the first of several campsites and turns to the right toward the Toccoa River suspension bridge.

The gravel Forest Road 816 can be used to save some time and effort on the return trip since it has very little elevation change as it winds back to Tooni Gap. FS 816 leads to a parking area for closer access to the bridge.

Information Packet, Pack List & Meal Ideas
Difficulty Ratings:

1. Easy

  Generally 4 miles or less, leisurely pace, and/or gentle elevation gain (less than 400 feet)
2. Easy to Moderate
  Generally 6 miles or less and/or moderate pace, gentle to moderate elevation gain (less than 1000 feet).
3. Moderate
  Generally 8 miles or less and/or increased elevation gain (less than 1500 feet) and/or faster pace.
4. Moderate to Difficult
  Generally 10 miles or less and/or more challenging elevation gain (1500 to 2500 feet) and/or faster pace.
5. Difficult
  Generally 15 mi or less and/or challenging elevation gain (2500 to 4000 feet) and/or seasonal conditions or special considerations.
6. Strenuous
  Generally distance of 15 mi+ and/or challenging elevation gain (4000 feet or more) and/or seasonal conditions or special considerations.
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