We don’t have very many cool, well-known, abbreviated trail names here in Georgia. We’ve got the AT, of course, but I’ve even had people ask me what that is. We’ve also got the BMT (Benton McKaye Trail), which is far lesser known. And then we have the James Edmonds Trail, or JET if you want to sound impressive. The JET is located within Black Rock Mountain State Park, one of my favorites, and is actually known to be one of the hardest trails in Georgia. I’ve been to BRMSP a few times now, but always did shorter trails due to time constraints. The JET was on my list of challenging 2019 hikes, though, so when a fellow Girls Who Hike ambassador, Rhiannon, wanted to lead a hike here, I jumped on board.
The JET is about 9 miles long, if you add in a short detour to visit Black Rock Lake (more on that later), but the distance isn’t really the hard part. The trail is a “lollipop loop” and the feeder portion is pretty much straight down for about a mile, meaning you have then go back up after also hiking the hilly terrain of the loop. We ended up with a small group for this hike, but that was ideal given the challenging terrain and need to keep the group moving at a cohesive pace. It was a tough hike, but well worth it since BRMSP has such stunning scenery.
The JET packs a lot of features into a relatively short package. I would consider no part of the trail to be mundane; even the simple forested areas are beautiful and serene. We saw lots of wildflowers starting to pop up and reached a pretty stream, which was a nice spot for a short break. There’s also a beautiful mountain overlook, although the park is full of these and not all require a difficult hike. We spent a good amount of time at the overlook, eating lunch and just enjoying the view. After leaving the mountain, we took a small detour to visit Black Rock Lake. This isn’t actually on the trail, but a short distance across a road. It’s well worth the stop, though. This was probably the prettiest lake I’ve ever seen in Georgia. The water was so blue and peaceful looking! The last major feature of this trail is a small waterfall, so you really get a little bit of everything on the JET.
After leaving the waterfall, we slowly started the difficult hike back toward the feeder trail and eventual trailhead. This was one of the first decently warm days of spring and the temperature had gone from about 40 degrees when we started to about 70 at this point. These early spring days are always hard for me to adjust to when hiking, even though I like hiking in hot weather once the season gets underway. We were all struggling a little bit in the final stretch. it’s so important to get the clothing layers right and remember to drink enough water! But we made it all in one piece and I was very proud of everyone for taking on this hike.