Ocmulgee Flats – Love Mt. Quick Loop (2.5 mi)
Total climbing: 381 ft
Total time: 05:31:43
One of the best-maintained and most used sections of trail in Jasper County is the Ocmulgee River Trail from the Ocmulgee Flats Hunt Camp northward along the river to Love Mountain. There is plenty of parking at the Ocmulgee Flats Hunt Camp, which is about a mile along FS 1099 from the south entrance off Hwy 83. Park at the back right corner of the camp on the west side of FS 1099. There is a trail courtesy sign there that reminds who to yield to whom on the trail. Basically horses always get the right of way and cyclists always yield the right-of-way. Hikers are stuck somewhere in between.
The first section of trail you encounter, the Ocmulgee Flats Approach Trail, is pretty heavily used and rooty in a few spots, but in general is in great condition. This section of trail, like the one all the way to Love Mountain, is coded with white tree paint behind the horse signs designating the trail location. Some low-lying sections of the approach trail have been well-prepared and hardened where soft soils are present (image below), so you’ll have no trouble at all getting from the hunt camp down to the riverbank where the main Ocmulgee River Trail is located.
After about 1/4 mile you’ll reach the Ocmulgee River Trail, where you can turn left toward Highway 83 or right toward Love Mountain, or beyond to the Ocmulgee Day Use Area. As the sign says, if you go left it’ll be about 1.5 miles till you encounter Highway 83, where you can cross over and continue on the White Creek Trail if you like. To get to Love Mountain, turn right in the direction of the Day Use Area. Day Use is 4.5 miles away, but Love mountain is only a little over a mile upriver.
Not too far after you turn right at the sign, maybe a 1/4 mile, you’ll encounter a little tributary flowing in from the east. There was a good sturdy bridge in place until a tree near the bridge fell recently and damaged the bridge. There is now a temporary ford adjacent to the bridge, as you can see in the photo below.
After about a mile upriver, you’ll begin to see a high bluff to your right. It’s a small ridge that extends to the river and has a very steep slope down to a narrow strip of floodplain between it and the river. As pictured below, you will likely see some rellict trillium if you are hiking between March 15th and early April. The plant is a State and Federally listed endangered species. As you curve around slightly to the right after passing the bluff, turning right and climb to the top of the bluff and taking a look. It’s a beautiful spot.
At the top of Love Mountain, bear left and take the Love Mountain Approach Trail up to FS Road 1099. Currently, the only option you have other than backtracking to the start is to take a right on FS Rd 1099 and follow it back down the hill to the Ocmulgee Flats Hunt Camp. Hopefully it won’t be long until the trails on the interior of FS 1099 are reopened so that you can complete the hike on trails. The recent pine beetle infestation and timbering has made a mess of trails on the inside of the FS 1099 loop and it will take some work to get them back in decent condition. The entire hike is roughly 2.75 miles and should take about an hour plus whatever time you choose to stop and smell the trillium.