The United States Congress designated the Gee Creek Wilderness (map
) in 1975 and it now has a total of 2,493 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Tennessee
and is managed by the Forest Service.
To the early settlers in South Carolina, the Cherokee Indians lived "over the hills" in eastern Tennessee. People today refer to the region, which includes the southern portion of Cherokee National Forest, as Tennessee Overhill Country. Small Gee Creek Wilderness marks the forest's western border, with the long rise of Starr Mountain to the west and north and Chestnut Mountain to the south.
South-flowing Poplar Springs Branch and Gee Creek drain the Wilderness. From a distance, the two waterways appear to cut a V in the otherwise continuous face of the mountains where the drainage lies. Peaceful trails follow Poplar Springs Branch and Gee Creek through hollows dense with hemlock, buckeye, white pine, beech, and rhododendron. Both creeks teem with native trout, and the fishing can be excellent. Loggers once devastated the forest, but that was 80 years ago. Lush trees have long since returned, even though some have had to contend with old mining sites (one of which you can still see on Gee Creek) and other abandoned relics of the past.
The semiprimitive Gee Creek Trail starts at a parking lot outside the southwestern corner and follows an old forest road about one-half mile before entering the Wilderness to trace the creek for a total of approximately two miles to a dead end. This is a place where you'll feel isolated from the rest of the world and as immersed in wildness as you can get in Tennessee. The trail branches at the confluence of Poplar Springs Branch to go a short distance up Gee Creek and a long distance up the branch. The terrain steepens in the northern section. The Chestnut Mountain Trail follows the slopes of Chestnut Mountain in the south and east for 5.6 miles and is used primarily by horseback riders. The total trail equals about eight miles.