The Gilmer Blue Trail begins on the east side of Gilmer County on Lower Cartecay Road on the Cartecay River dropping through Class Three Rapids before leveling out at the Cartecay Canoe Launch site. The trail continues west where the Cartecay joins the Ellijay River to form the Coosawattee River. In the Gilmer Country River Park is the next Canoe Launch site. From there eleven miles downstream the trail exits out into Carters Lake where the newest facilities have just been completed on the trail. These facilities provide a camping facility for the canoeists/kayakers to camp overnight or longer before exiting the trail at the Ridgeway Ramp on Carters Lake. The Gilmer Blue Trail is now 34 miles long.


The new facilities consist of a site to beach the canoe’s/ kayaks, a tenting site, a shed and cooking area, and a moldering privy facility. The facilities are located about 40 ft. above the lake, accessed by an old road bed from the beach location.

Tenting Area
The tenting area is a 20 ft. x 16 ft. flat camp site with a raised 6 x 6 wall. On one end of the wall are seats for

Cooking Area
The cooking area is located about 50 ft. up the old road bed from the tenting area. This site is approximately 30 ft. x 30 ft. outlined with 6 x 6’s and covered in mulch. The site has an improved shelter for protection from inclement weather, an 8 ft. long bench to sit and observe the lake or the evening fire in the fire pit. There are two cooking sites, one a raised charcoal cooker and one a fire pit with grill. A picnic table may be added at a future date. There is also a secure garbage can at the site for rubbish but packing out trash is preferred.

Moldering Toilet
In the back county, providing sanitation facilities can be expensive and add a lot of maintenance. For the Canoe Overnight site, a Moldering Toilet design was selected as it very inexpensive to build and requires no maintenance other than to occasionally bring in a load of mulch to use with the toilet. It is also reported to be the least offensive in smelling.


The Moldering Toilet was first used on Appalachian Trail and other outback trails in the US. This design has a raised chamber built with pressure-treated timbers (6 x 6’s in our case but 4 x 4’s can be used). The inside of the chamber, 6 ft. x 8 ft. is covered in screen wire to keep flies and other pest out and then decked to cover it. The toilet is placed on the deck and a hole cut through the floor. The toilet is enclosed with a screened-in enclosure built with suitable materials. In our case, we built the structure with 4 x 4’s and screened in the enclosure with 3R4 T- 11 plywood. A metal roof is added for protection from the weather. Although it is doubtful a handicap person will use this facility, the toilet facility was never the less built to ADA standards with a suitable ramp to allow for wheelchair access. The toilet door was built 36 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair.


Anyone wanting more information about the Moldering Privy and other backcountry sanitation designs can find it in the Appalachian Trail Conference Backcountry Sanitation Manual.

Haynes Johnson & Don Wells
From The Eddy Line, July-August 2011