The Cartecay River is a 19.1-mile-long river that runs through Ellijay, Georgia. It is the site of a class II whitewater run.The Cartecay and Ellijay rivers meet in Ellijay to form the Coosawattee River. The Cartecay and most of its watershed are located within the southeast corner of Gilmer County, but there are small sections of the watershed in Fannin, Pickens, and Dawson counties.Blackberry Falls rapid on the Cartecay River near EllijayMuch of the river runs east to west near or along State Hwy 52E. The Cartecay River basin covers 86,734 acres in total area. The major tributaries are Clear Creek, Licklog Creek, Owltown Creek, Anderson Creek and Tickanetley Creek. The land is mostly undeveloped, but the river does pass through residential developments. The headwaters of the Cartecay River begin in the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Take Ga 52 west from the Ellijay traffic circle for 5 miles. Turn right onto Gates Chapel Road and go about 5 miles to Forest Service Road 241 marked as "Bear Creek Trail." Turn right and travel just over 1.0 miles where the road to the Pinhoti Trail Bear Creek trailhead comes off to the right.
Originally the trail markers were almost gone and it is now easy to follow the trail. The saddest thing however, is the human impact on the Gennett Poplar. We encourage hikers and bikers to leave this tree alone.
Virgin forest is rare in the north Georgia mountains. The Bear Creek Trail contains what appears to be a never harvested section of land with trees so immense that they literally astound even the casual observer. Deep in this section of forest is the so-called Gennett poplar standing some 100 feet high and nearly twenty feet around. The tree is massive, and it alone is reason enough to try this hike.
This loop trail follows Bear Creek from a point off Forest Service Road 241, and features the second largest tree in North Georgia. The Gennett Poplar is named for the family who owned the local lumber mill and sold the land to the United State government.