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Grassy Mountain Races

Everything you need to know about the prettiest set of races in the heart of the Cohuttas!

When?  March 27, 2022 (TENTATIVE)

The 30k starts at 9 am.  (Check-in at 8 am.)

The 10k starts at 11 am.  (Check-in at 10 am.)

 

Where?
At the entrance to the Lake Conasauga Day Use/Picnic Area (NOT the campground!)

GPS: 34.85495,-84.652223

So there’s no swag, but there’s still a race fee?  Yes, I still have to permit the event with the Forest Service and insure it. I will provision basic aid and finish line fare.  THE COURSE WILL BE MARKED.  Additionally, I maintain the trails we use in advance, which takes resources.   You get a fun time and a clock time!

The courses:
Both distances will summit Grassy Mountain (ele 3600 ft), experience pristine singletrack, and circumnavigate Lake Conasauga, Georgia’s highest alpine lake.  

Although you can’t go up to the tippy top of the tower itself, the views off the Grassy Mountain tower are spectacular! You’ll be able to see Fort Mountain State Park across the valley to the south, the US 411 corridor including Chatsworth and other communities, and the beautiful mountains of the Cohutta Wilderness to the north.  Bring your camera!!

Lake Conasauga is Georgia’s highest lake and sourced by Mill Creek.  The water is the clearest you’ll find anywhere, and it’s simply a delight to run around (and swim across).

The 30k additionally drops to the Milma Creek Trail via Emery Creek, one of my favorites in the area.  The Upper Emery Creek Trail has fewer creek crossings than the more popular lower section.   With its fern forests, seasonal wildflowers and old growth forest, it’s singletrack perfection that you don’t want to miss.   

The Milma Creek trail junction is nice and wide and gravelled but then turns into non-technical rolling “doublish track”. You’ll have views across the valley of Fort Mountain (on your left) the entire time you’re on this section.

At the end of Milma, you’ll start the Windy Gap climb.  It’s technical and absolutely beautiful!  Although challenging, I really love the geology of the Upper Windy Gap trail, and the seasonal wildflowers are lovely!

After grabbing a bit of aid at the top of Windy Gap (Mile 13.5), the 30k will pick up the 10k course to the finish.

Links to courses:

10k course: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/map/map--109585?u=i
30k course: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/map/map--109594?u=i

Please note that the 30k course is much harder than the 10k course!  The 30k has 3500ft of gain!

 

if you use a GPS, please load the course on to it, so you can be alerted if you go off course.  Install Trail Run Project (free) on your phone and use the location features (without cell reception) to tell you where you are.


How to get to the Start:

There will be a good chunk of forest service road driving, so give yourself ample time.  There are also sightseeing opportunities along the way.

Watch for cyclists as you traverse the forest service roads.  It’s really hard riding (I’ve done it! Repeatedly! It sucks!!), and they’ll appreciate your caution and kindness.  

From Ellijay: 

It takes about an hour to get from Ellijay to Lake Conasauga.
~~Follow GA-52 West towards Chatsworth.

~~Make a RIGHT on Gates Chapel Rd maybe a mile after New Hope Church.  (There’s a brown USFS sign.)

~~Continue on Gates Chapel Rd for 5.2 miles.

~~Go straight/right to take Wilderness Rd (USFS 90) for 1.6 miles.  This is unpaved and uphill.

~~At the gap (feels like the top), make a sharp RIGHT uphill on to USFS 68 (Potatopatch Rd/Old CCC Camp Rd) for 3.2 miles. (If you find yourself going downhill, you missed the turn...this is all climbing!)


Note: On the way up this road, you’ll pass the Barnes Creek Picnic Area (waterfall!), the Potatopatch/Bear Creek Overlook (epic view!), and the Bear Creek upper trailhead (don’t stop here).  You’ll definitely want to factor in sightseeing time when you plan to come up for the race!

~~At the T junction, make a LEFT (there are signs) on USFS 64 (Conasauga Lake Rd) for another 3 miles.

~~Do not take the forest road (USFS 17) that goes down to the right. Keep going straight!

~~Go straight past the campground access to the right.  (It’s closed anyway.)

~~Look for the cars and the parking volunteer.  Park only on ONE side of road, where the volunteer tells you.

From Chatsworth/US 411:

It takes about an hour to get from Chatsworth to Lake Conasauga.

If coming from the North (from Tennessee):  In Crandall, take a LEFT on Grassy Street.
If coming from the South (from Eton/Chatsworth): In Crandall, take a RIGHT on Grassy Street.

~~Once on Grassy Street, turn RIGHT on to Crandall-Ellijay Rd.

~~Turn LEFT on Mill Creek Rd.  Follow it for 8.6 miles.  It will turn to gravel, and steadily go uphill.

~~At the T junction, pull-over, stop, and take a photo.  :)  Then make a sharp RIGHT on West Cowpen Rd (USFS 17) to continue going uphill.  Follow this road for 3.2 miles.


Note: The Mill Creek Overlook (epic view!) will be on your right shortly before your next turn.

~~At the T junction, make a RIGHT on USFS 64 (Lake Conasauga Rd) and follow it for 1.2 miles.

~~Go straight past the campground access to the right.  (It’s closed anyway.)

~~Look for the cars and the parking volunteer.  Park only on ONE side of road, where the volunteer tells you.


Parking:

PLEASE CARPOOL! We are meeting in the middle of no-damn-where!!!  Meet up with other runners in Ellijay, Chatsworth, or wherever and drive in from there. All vehicles are to park along ONE SIDE of Lake Conasauga Rd (USFS 64 then 49), and no vehicle is to impede traffic flow or access to any intersecting road or trailhead. There is no parking in the actual Start/Finish area, outside of Start/Finish volunteers. Please follow the directions of the parking volunteers.

Aid information:

The 30k will have basic aid (water/gatorade/coke/snacks) available at the Windy Gap trail head (mile 13.5).

There will be water, gatorade, coke, and snacks at the Finish.

If you want food, gels etc... bring it and carry it.  There’s plenty of water along the course, so bring a cup/water filter if you’re worried about water consumption. 

Speaking of….. This is a cupless race.  Bring a water bottle and/or collapsible cup and don't do gross things with our containers.

There will be tracking of some sort at Windy Gap.  Either provide your race # to the volunteer upon leaving, or jot down your # and the time of day if the station is unmanned.

Weather Considerations:

It’s early technically still winter but feels like early spring.  In the Cohuttas.  Plan for any and everything!  Make sure you have warm, dry clothes to change into after your race.  You're welcome to use whatever works for you.  

Here's what I look at for weather for this area - it’s the closest in proximity: https://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Fort-Mountain-Murray-County-Georgia/forecasts/868

IMPORTANT: Early spring is a weird time for weather!  It can be beautiful one day and snowy, icy, and dangerous the next.  Although this event will be held rain or shine, if the weather truly works against us creating unsafe travel or racing (eg. severe winter weather alerts, highway/road closures due to weather, USFS directives), I will either cancel or try to move the event.  


Are there cut-offs?

Kind-of.  30k-ers should not take any longer than 5 hours to get to Windy Gap/USFS 49.  If you’re on the struggle bus at this point, then hang a right to follow the road (<1 mile) to the Start/Finish.  Having said that, the remaining 5.5 miles are easier than the Windy Gap Trail.  

30k-ers should finish the course in no longer than 7 hours (4 pm).  

10k-ers should finish the course in no longer than 3 hours (3 pm).

Miscellaneous:

~~Bring a camera!  Go up the firetower!  Enjoy where you are!

~~There’s no SWAG, which means you get nothing but a smile, a sweaty hug, a high-five, and/or a pat on the back or elbow bump (thanks, Covid!) when you finish.  This is classic trail racing at its finest.  If you need "stuff" to validate your race efforts, then this event is not for you. 

 

Covid Considerations:

Please give this link a look to see what we're doing to reduce the possible transmission of Covid-19: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14ktSyyO-86nTPyU0cFhs711QxfKnPmrK60OSE99-NAk/edit?usp=sharing This applies to all Run the Cohuttas events as well as the Rabun Half Marathon, so if you read something that doesn't quite make sense for this race, that's why.


Course Records: 

30k Men: Jared Burris - 2:41:12 (2021)

30k Women: Heidi Poore - 4:32:07 (2021)

10k Men: David Gullicksen - 52:47 (2021)

10k Women: Robyn Ward - 1:10:48 (2021)

Camping/Lodging:

The lake campground is closed until some time later in April.  For a fee, you can camp in the overflow camping area up USFS 49 at the Songbird Trail Head.  There is a vault toilet here.  This is super convenient to the race, as it’s in between Windy Gap and the Start/Finish area.  If you camp here, please stay parked at your site and walk to the Start/Finish on race morning.

There is a huge group camping area at the top of Emery Creek, opposite Tearbritches.  It’s a bit rough getting in and out of there, and I recommend a higher clearance vehicle.  It’s free and there are no facilities.  Technically, this is ON THE COURSE at Mile 2.3ish, so please don't block the trailhead at the far left corner of the field. 

If you’re coming from US 411, the Hickey Gap Campground is on Mill Creek Rd and free!  This is a beautiful creekside camping area, and there is a vault toilet.

Outside of the designated camping areas, it’s the National Forest - you can camp anywhere that makes sense so long as you Leave No Trace.

Camping in early spring can be hard, though, so if you’re not into that, check out Mulberry Gap (www.mulberrygap.com), which is situated at the bottom of these fine mountains.  Mulberry Gap has cabins and camping, with access to hot showers.  They are awesome folks, and you can get meals and beer and last minute items you might have forgotten (or didn’t realize you needed).

Fort Mountain State Park (Fort Mountain State Park | Department Of Natural Resources Division (gastateparks.org) is also nearby at the top of Hwy 52, and they have a great campground and newly renovated cabins.  

Otherwise, look to neighboring towns for hotels or AirBNBs and such.  I have no recommendations beyond what I’ve referenced here.

Runner tracking

Only manual for safety reasons. The Grassy Mountain Races are meant to be grassroots trail running.  Although parts of the course have great cell reception, it's a hassle to have volunteers work with hotspots and timing devices when they really need to be helping runners. 

What if I can’t make it to the race?

Run the Cohuttas is a local grassroots organization and cannot offer refunds, transfers, or deferments. This includes if the event is cancelled due to last minute inclement weather.  Every registration fee goes toward the betterment of this and other Run the Cohuttas events as well as the on-going trail maintenance efforts on and off this course. Your understanding is appreciated!

Any questions not answered here?

Please don’t hesitate to shoot an email to runthecohuttas@gmail.com. Run the Cohuttas is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @runthecohuttas, so you can reach out there as well.  If you’re on Facebook, there will be a public event created to facilitate discussion and such.  Feel free to ask questions there, too!

We need volunteers!

Let’s face it, it’s pretty much just me, Susan, doing all this stuff, so any help at all would be appreciated!  

Here’s what I need for this event to be happy and successful for folks:
-Parking person -> Top of Emery marshal
-Check-in/Finish line person
-Windy Gap Aid person
-2 sweeps to collect signs/flags/garbage and make sure everyone is off the course.
-A photo person atop Grassy would be amazing!

Volunteers get free entry into any event I put on within a year of volunteering.  This includes free entry into upcoming Run the Cohuttas event or the Rabun Half Marathon in June.  If running's not your thing, but supporting crazy events in the middle of the woods is? No worries!  You can donate your free race entry to someone else!

Thank you!

I can’t thank you enough for supporting Run the Cohuttas! This area is near and dear to my heart as my family spends a large part of our summers here.  I can’t wait to share it with you!