Hog Pen Gap is located along Richard Russell Road (GA/348,) also known as the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. There’s a parking area along the eastern side of Hog Pen Gap that has one of the most outstanding scenic overlooks of Union County’s southern Blue Ridge Mountains. The view features Brasstown Bald along the eastern horizon, the highest roadway accessible mountaintop in all North Georgia.
Looking to the north just below this parking area, along the left hand side of the roadway is one of the finest displays of ancient metamorphic rock walls known as banded gneiss. The extreme outer ridgeline of the ancient Blue Ridge Mountain Range, is the oldest of all the Blue Ridge Province Ranges; stretching from North Georgia to Virginia, including the much younger yet bigger Great Smoky Mountains. These southern most ridgelines displaying bare rock features are unique to all of the Blue Ridge-Smoky Mountains.
This effect is referred to as the Blue Ridge Escarpment, due to the steep outer and inner southern mountain slopes caused by eons of rainfall and erosion. The effect on both the north and south sides of the ancient range is the reason for the exposure of these bare rock formations, and why so many waterfalls developed in the area. It’s also likely why so many gold deposits have developed in the area.
These steep sloped long ranges slowed down the process of early settlements forming in the higher altitudes, often protecting Native American homelands, creating a stronghold for them for the time being. As history has told, it took 300-years for European settlers to inhabit the eastern coastal and piedmont regions, and only 100-years more to reach the west coast once they crossed the formidable Blue Ridge - Appalachian Mountains.
Hogpen Gap - Appalachian Trail Access: At the crest of the roadway above the overlook at Hog Pen Gap, is an additional parking area and two access points for the Appalachian Trail (white blazed) leading either northward or southward. At the northeastern access point to the Appalachian Trail at Hogpen Gap, is a large boulder inscribed with the words “Hog Pen Gap Appalachian Trail,” and a kiosk with displayed maps, marking the trails’ access points. These inscribed boulders are often found along the Appalachian Trail where it crosses high mountain gaps. These locations are great photo opportunities for mountain gap visitors. Technically, a short hike along any section of the Appalachian Trail will qualify you as an honorary hiker of the infamous trail.
The southern bound Appalachian Trail access, across the road from the inscribed boulder at Hog Pen Gap, connects to a trail, just a short distance from the roadway, the Wildcat Mountain Whitley Gap Trail. This trail is about a 1/2-mile to 1-mile to the top of Wildcat Mountain. An additional 1/2-mile leads up to Adams’ Bald. The trail should be considered moderate to strenuous in difficulty
To the south just below Hog Pen Gap, also located along Richard Russell Road (GA/348,) is a parking area overlook with an impressive view of the lone Yonah Mountain along the horizon, some foothills, and the Dahlonega Gold Belt, laid out against the distant North Georgia Piedmont.
Logan Turnpike Trail: Located to the north, just below Hog Pen Gap along Richard Russell Road (GA/348,) is the old Logan Turnpike, an abandoned toll road that was operated prior to motorized vehicle days.
This steep mountain terrain turnpike passes through the Tesnatee Gap. The old historic turnpike began at the lower southern side of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range, and acted as a corridor into the upper southern reaches of Union County. Tesnatee Gap offers a sizable parking area for Logan Turnpike Trail (blue blazed.) The trailhead leads to the south for approximately 2-miles and is considered moderate to difficult hiking down the mountain slope, and strenuous in difficulty climbing back up the trail. Considering the difficulty the steep trail is to hike, just imagine how difficult it was for horse drawn wagons, whether fully loaded or empty.
Also passing through the Tesnatee Gap is the Appalachian Trail (white blazed) making its way up to Hog Pen Gap. The trail from Tesnatee Gap to Hogpen Gap is a 1/2-mile plus hike.