The 116-mile Bartram Trail begins at the Russell Bridge over the Chattooga River at the Georgia-South Carolina border. It continues along the river for several miles in Georgia, and then through the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina, joins the Appalachian Trail at a couple of points, and ends at the rugged, remote, and beautiful Cheoah Bald. You'll be accompanied by the soothing sound of water for much of the hike as you take wooden bridges over trickling streams, walk alongside river rapids, and hike past several waterfalls. Wildflowers carpet the way along ascents to peaks with incredible views.
The trail is named for eighteenth-century naturalist William Bartram, who explored the area and published his studies of its flora and fauna in a book entitled Bartram's Travels. It was popular among Romantic poets and Transcendentalists and is still available for purchase. If you're the bookish type, consider bringing a copy along with you and seeing if you can spot what's changed since Bartram's time.
If you want to tackle this challenging trail from beginning to end, you'll need to have someone pick you up at the parking lot nearest to Cheoah Bald, the Stecoah Gap lot. To get there, you'll have to follow the Appalachian Trail for 3.8 miles beyond the point where the Bartram Trail ends at the peak of Cheoah Bald. Of course, a full hike will require a few nights of camping along the way. What better way to bond with your wild-hearted wanderer than to sleep together next to a campfire?
You'll still require at least one day of camping if you stick to the 37 miles of the trail in Georgia, though you'll have significantly less elevation gain. There's another free parking lot about fifteen miles from the trailhead at Warwoman Dell in Georgia if you want to keep your hike to a day's length. Any distance you walk on this trail will put you in touch with the wilderness—survey results in Backpacker Magazine identified this as the top long-distance trail in the United States for solitude. If you're up for the adventure, you and your pup will hear the call of the wild here!