Tellico in October 2001
I departed Sanford early last Thursday morning. It took me 7 hours to drive 335 miles but that included a gas stop and a nice supper at Denny's. Tellico maps are available at all the gas stations/stores on Hanging Dog Road. Note the Citgo station on your right as you get close to Hanging Dog Road and also the other station in Hanging Dog, NC. I point these out because they both have FREE air and leave their pumps on all night. You may want to air up when you come down out of the mountains. There is no color left in the upper mountains. The leaves are on the ground or brown and will soon be on the ground. It was very windy the days we were there (Thur-Sun) so make sure you take a wind breaker. Thursday night was very comfortable but Saturday night was much colder. The campground manager said that when she got up it was 20 degrees so only the good Lord know what it was at 2-3 PM. We were well prepared (these friends are all experienced campers) and it did not bother us at all. Someone was putting up a log cabin close by and they gave us all the scraps which meant we had plenty of dry pine logs that burned great. When I got up Saturday morning I put on a sweater but working around the camp and with the sun up that soon proved to be too hot. I took off the sweater and that left a flannel shirt and T-shirt. Soon it was soon warm the flannel shirt had to come off and I worked in a T-shirt. The campground is in a nice sheltered area. Now to the trails. Let me explain Trail 2 for you. There is an Upper 2 and a Lower 2 and they are separated by some distance but they are still called #2. I do not recommend lower 2 until you see it and observe some trying to make it up. Lower 2 and the same for School Bus (#12). In fact School Bus has gotten so bad that it was closed for Dixie Run and we were told it is still closed. ONLY TAKE LOWER 2 AND SCHOOL BUS IF YOU DO NOT CARE ABOUT BREAKAGE AND BODY DAMAGE. For those who wonder if you came make it without "Locked, Lifted, etc" I can tell you that from April 97 till April 2000 (3 years) I ran Tellico a lot (When I was in South Carolina I lived less that 90 miles from Tellico and so Tellico to me is like Uwharrie to you) with the following . My TJ had a 2" spacer lift on top the springs but I still ran OEM shocks, a EZ Locker in the rear---and that's it. During that time I ran every trail except Lower 2 and School Bus. I also was not experienced but learned to drive at Tellico. So if I can do it so can you. I never did get up Guard Rail AKA Stair Steps (BTW THE GUARD RAIL IS KNOCKED DOWN SO TAKE THAT INTO CONSIDERATION IF YOU DECIDE TO RUN IT) but a friend with a YJ that had a locker in the front (no rear locker) and driving an automatic could just walk right up it with no problem. We started our ride on Friday morning and this is a route I recommend you take. BTW Tellico is about 11 miles from Murphy. Go to Upper 2. It will be in a right hand curve that has a wide spot where you can lock and air down safely. Upper 2 will be on your left. Going down Upper 2 is much easier than going "UP" Upper 2. Continue on an you will come out on a dirt road which connects the two. About mid way down you will see Lower 2 on your right. there is a spectator area there where people pull off and watch the breakage and body damage going on. We were delayed there because they had to winch up vehicles with broken drive shafts, broken U-joints etc. That's a good place to see Lower 2. If you thought coming down Upper 2 was fun and you want more challenge, then turn around and go back UP--Upper 2. Just be careful that going up there is a tree root that can snag your top. Continue down the dirt road and you will come out on a paved road. You actually are in Tenn. and have been for some time. Turn RIGHT over the bridge and continue on through the camping sites but turn LEFT before you get to the 2nd bridge. You are going to Trail 5 which has a river crossing. Actually at this time with the water low it's more like a creek crossing. This used to be a real challenge until they pulled the rocks out of the river and also on the other side. I have seen a number of people break there and bust open oil pans etc. The Greenies raised such a fuss that the rocks were pulled out and now it's a piece of cake. Going up 5 is more difficult that going down 5. At the top turn right on Trail #4. On this trail you will see Guard Rail (#11) on you left. Be aware this is a dirt trial taking you to Guard Rail. The challenge is Guard Rail it's self, not the dirt trail. THERE IS NO BYPASS AT GUARD RAIL. You have to go up it to proceed. If you do not want to go run Guard Rail then don't take the trail because if you change your mind then you will be trying to come down when everyone else is trying to go up. At Guard Rail you can go left-center-left for a "line". You choose you poison. Continue on and you will come to "Helicopter Pad". This obstacle has a bypass (on the left) and I recommend you take it because if you choose the right side there is a rock that sticks out on the left and will open up the vehicle body like a can opener. Coming down the back side of Helicopter Pad (Trail turns to the right) there is a pair of rocks and you have to do a "S" maneuver to get through. I had to turn right towards a rock wall then let my rock rails protect the side of my TJ as I tried to switched the tail end around by spinning the wheels and turning on a rock on my left. Not easy to do but it helps if you have hands to push you off the rocks. There were on two of us in a YJ and TJ so were had to do it by "fineness" You will come back out on #4 and that leads you to Trail 1 and back to Murphy. During our time we went up & down 5, up and down Upper 2, Up 11, drove on 4, 5, We planned to do Slick Rock (# 9) on Sunday but the 3 guys running Air Lockers, a CJ-YJ-&TJ all had troubles with them so we went to Murphy for a good breakfast and to the tents to dry out some. Packed up and departed for home at at 2:00 PM. This is a thumb nail sketch so if you have questions by whoever will be the Trail Boss, just let me know. I recommend a very nice place to eat. It had excellent food and nice atmosphere. It's called "Shoe Booties" and is located in mid town Murphy close to the major cross roads. Strange name for a restaurant but it comes from ma remark made by a well known TV personality. You will just have to go visit to find out more. I forgot to mention that in my opinion Guard Rail/Stair Steps is the most difficult obstacle in Tellico. Some may say Lower 2 is but since I have not run Lower two I'll stick with Guard Rail.
There a two kinds of Tellico maps. One is paper and the other (same map but different surface) has a thin laminate cover. You would think the laminated one is better but it's not. It does not wear as well, cracks at the folds, and will not last as long. I recommend the plain paper one. All can travel the trails I had in my last message except for Guard Rail. However taking that suggested route I laid out will allow those that want to try Guard Rail to turn off # 4 onto # 11 and those that don't want to try Guard Rail to just continue on # 4 which will return you to Trail 1. At Trail 1 turn left to go to Murphy. Another route follows the same going down Upper 2, watching the carnage at the Upper part of Lower 2, and then on down to the paved road, turn right over the bridge, and just after you cross back into NC look for the pay station on your left. Trail # 6 starts there, also on your left,. Take # 6 to # 4 , go DOWN # 5 and back to Trail 1.Disregard anything the map shows for difficulty because the maps were made in May, 1990. Again I will be happy to answer any questions for your upcoming trip to Tellico.