by Joe Cuhaj (Falcon Guides)
© Joe Cuhaj/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
I was visiting Georgia from California and I took advice from my friends to check out the DeSoto Scout Trail. It was worth it and then some! First off the trail is 16 miles long, and NOT at all like the current trails.com description.The trail was right by the river and in great shape besides a little driftwood and ferns at my ankles. The DST is WELL marked at least every 200 ft. So I started at DeSoto State Park and continued south past many spectacular waterfalls and a raging beautiful blue river. Some of the trail had a good foot bed and other parts were right next to the river and walking on boulders of various sizes. (which was cool) All kinds of plants and flowers were already coming up and giving the trail much color. The trail got less rocky as you worked your way south and eventually the steep cliffs and waterfalls gave way to rolling creeks and a wider river valley filled with ferns of many different kinds. We passed the confluence of several creeks and finally the CF of the East and West Fork. There were a few creeks to ford after the trail followed old Forest Road 5. We camped at Hartline Ford and it was right at a nice on the river. There was even a pit toilet "outhouse" and some firewood! We continued out past another campsite as the trail got back into the forest by the river. The last 8 miles of the trail is easy walking and there is a huge improved parking area on the south side of the DST. Quite a fun and unexpected 2 day trek into some beautiful scenery. We only saw 2 groups the whole 2 days on the trail! Next time I will come back when it is warm enough to swim! desotoscouttraildotcom has a lot of maps and info too
The DST is a great trail but this guide is very outdated. This trail was restored and marked with metal "DST" signs in the summer of 2011. The trail is 16 miles from Comer Scout Reservation to Edna Hill Church. The upper 2 miles north of Comer is closed to the public because it is on a Boy Scouts Reservation. The rest of the trail is 100% open. The public lands section starts at DeSoto State Park.(DSP) The DST here is marked with Yellow blazes.If you are at DSP, just go toward the river and you will eventually find the trail. The trail follows the ridge of the West Fork of Little River and has great views and many waterfalls. Next it descends right by the river and meanders up and down boulders, rocks and on ledges. It travels up slope to get out of the floodplain several times, but the climb is not too bad. There are several swimming spots and a couple of developed free "first come first serve"campsites on the trail on the river at Hartline Ford and Billy's Ford.
There is a DeSoto Scout Trail Facebook page where you can get tons of maps and info on the trail.
I hiked part of this trail along the emergency exits into Desoto State Park. The trail was clean and very legible. Some people from this area have been organizing trail maintainance days which have really helped out. You can find more info here http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=100002371978413
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