Just a short quarter mile hike from the end of a fire service road in northern Georgia is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi. They call it a swinging bridge, but they don’t always mention the bouncing…
Where the Benton MacKaye Trail meets the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail, in the fantastically named Chattahoochee Oconee National Forest, is a 270-foot hiker’s bridge high up over the Toccoa River. The bridge sways and jostles with every step, so – what else to call it but a swinging bridge. Built in 1977 by the National Forest Service, it is one of several like it in the southeastern United States. This one isn’t the highest (that honor goes to the Mile High Swinging Bridge in Linville, North Carolina), but it is the longest.
A swinging bridge is really just a scaled-down suspension bridge, but for feet instead of cars and trucks. Supported by simple anchoring at each end, with no towers or other supports in the middle, the weight is borne by the cables sloping down to the middle and back up again. Sure it swings from side to side, but it’s the up and down that makes it fun.
Know Before You Go
Access the trail from the end of Fire Service Road 816, just east of the town of Blue Ridge - it's a short hike to the bridge. Campsites line the water under the bridge, and prime spots go fast. No reservations.
If you’re a little more adventurous, park at the Benton MacKaye parking area on Ga. Hwy. 60 and take the three-mile trail (six miles roundtrip) to the north end of the bridge.
Finally, you can camp here! It’s primitive camping; first come; first served. Spots fill up fast along the river, but they are spectacular. The Toccoa River is known for its premier Trout fishing, so pack a pole and some bait.