Many people have called regarding the closing of trailheads in the Helen area. The U.S. Forest Service has posted the following information on their Facebook page. Please check their page regarding any future updates.
U.S. Forest Service - Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests - NEWS RELEASE - Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests temporarily shuts down trailheads, access points to Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests is temporarily shutting down trailhead facilities and other access points to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and nearby trails to prevent groups from congregating and to protect public health and safety. The decision aligns with state and local measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, recreation opportunities on the forest that support social distancing are still open for public use in other areas, including dispersed camping and other activities. “We realize our communities and our visitors value the recreation opportunities the forest has to offer,” said Edward Hunter, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests Supervisor. “A lot of discussion and consideration went into this decision. The health and safety of our employees and the public remain our top priority.” The following sites are affected by these changes:
• Trailheads including Dick's Creek Gap, Hogpen Gap, Neels Gap, Springer Mountain, Tesnatee Gap, Unicoi Gap, and Woody Gap • Trails including Andrews Cove Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail (Springer Mountain to Falls Branch Falls section), Byron Herbert Reece Memorial Trail, Dukes Creek Falls Trails, Duncan Ridge Trail, Dockery Lake Trail, Freeman Trail, Jacks Knob Trail, Jarrard Gap Trail, Logan Turnpike Trail, Long Creek Falls Trail, Panther Creek Falls Trail, Slaughter Creek Trail, Springer Mountain Trail, Raven Cliffs Falls Trail, and Yonah Mountain Trail.
The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests reminds visitors to recreate responsibly by avoiding gathering in groups of more than ten people and not engaging in high-risk activities, like rock climbing, that increase the chance of injury or distress. Also note that law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19. Guidelines for health and safety, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ See the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests’ website for the latest recreation information at www.fs.usda.gov/CONF, also on Facebook and Twitter at @ChattOconeeNF