Fall is upon us once again and the leaves of north Georgia are painting the mountains more beautifully than the most gifted artist could. The weather is cooling down, animals are getting ready for the cold, and you, my friend, need to go hiking.
But where to go? There are so many options in the North Georgia area, some popular, some not so popular. It can be hard to choose. I have been hiking the mountains of north Georgia for many years, and here are some of my favorite day hikes, I am certain they will not let you down.
Springer Mountain – Loop on the Benton MacKaye and Appalachian Trails
Distance: 5 miles
Directions: Blue Ridge, GA 30513
The Springer Mountain, Benton MacKaye Loop is by far my favorite in the North Georgia area. This trail starts at the Springer Mountain parking lot where you hike up to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Once there, enjoy the views and take in the history of the Appalachian Trail.
After a snack and some hydration, hike about 400 meters back down the trail and take the Benton MacKaye on the right. There are several more lofty views of the mountains, and this trail eventually loops back to the parking lot. With a total of approximately 5 miles, this is a great day hike for anyone.
Blood Mountain – Out and Back on the Byron Herbert Reece and Appalachian Trails
Distance: 5 miles
Next is Blood Mountain. Topping out at 4,458 feet in elevation, Blood Mountain is the highest peak on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, and your legs will feel every foot of it. The views are spectacular at the top and rival those seen in the Rocky Mountains. Be sure to plan on having lunch at the top to soak in the entire experience.
Blood Mountain Day hike is an out and back starting at the Byron Reece parking lot and going to the summit. The total trip out and back is approximately 5 miles.
Yonah Mountain – Out and Back on the Yonah Mountain Trail
Distance: 4.8 miles
Directions: GA-75, Cleveland, GA 30528
A day hike that will rival anything in Georgia is Yonah Mountain. With just over 1,500 feet of elevation gain in 2.4 miles, this out and back trail will leave your legs burning and your lungs searching for air.
The first 2.4 miles are up, up, and up the side of Yonah Mountain, and the last 2.4 are right back down. This is a popular hike and is used to train U.S Army Rangers. The view at the top will leave you breathless and it is worth the climb.
Benton MacKaye Swinging Bridge Hike – Out and Back on the Benton MacKaye and Duncan Ridge Trail
Distance: 6.9 miles
Directions: Parking at the intersection of GA Hwy. 60 and Forest Road 816
If you are looking for a hike that’s a little more docile, the Benton MacKaye Trail to the swinging bridge is a must-see. This relatively flat hike has wonderful views and comes out at a historic swinging bridge crossing the mighty Toccoa River.
Park at the intersection of GA Hwy 60 and Forest Road 816. As you walk up Forest Road 816 the Benton MacKaye Trail will appear on your left. Follow the trail all the way to the bridge. You could drive your car down Forrest Road 816, but what’s the fun in that? You’ll miss all the awesome views of the mountains the Benton MacKaye trail offers along the way.
This out and back will be approximately 6 miles.
Stone Mountain – Out and Back on the Stone Mountain Walk-Up Trail
Distance: 2.2 miles
Directions: Robert E Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Even though it’s not in the North Georgia mountains, Stone Mountain is one of my favorite day hikes, as well as training grounds for harder hikes.
Leaving from the “walk-up trail” parking lot you can challenge yourself to a tough 1-mile hike, right up the side of this historical site. Once on top, you can enjoy the nice views before starting back down, and the views are worth it. This trail is 2 miles out and back.
Brasstown Bald – Out and Back on Jacks Knob Trail
Distance: 12 miles
Directions: Jack’s Gap, Hiawassee, Ga
If you are looking for an all-day, leg-burning, lung and heart challenging day hike with a huge payoff at the end, the climb up Brasstown Bald on the Jacks Knob trail is exactly what you need.
Starting from the parking lot at Jacks Gap near Hiawassee, Georgia, you’ll see hordes of tourists taking the easy way up the mountain – a paved road that goes right up the mountain to a parking lot within a mile of the summit. But being the adventurous trail-fiend you are, you’ll take the road less traveled and avoid the crowds on the 6.2-mile Jacks Knob Trail.
Two miles in, you’ll be rewarded with great views from the top of Wolfpen Ridge, a prelude to the 360-degree views from the top of Brasstown Bald.
Distance: Between 1 to 8 miles
Directions: 2125 Elachee Drive, Gainesville, GA 30504
Hidden in the growing North Georgia city of Gainesville is a system of trails that will take you away from the traffic and city noise for a few hours or a whole day.
Chicopee Woods Park contains miles and miles of hiking and walking trails that take you through the forest, around a picturesque pond, and along babbling streams.
These trails are perfect for any level of hiker, families with children, and beginner trail runners.
One thing to keep in mind is that dogs are not allowed in Chicopee Woods.
These trails offer some of the best views in Georgia for the veteran hiker or someone just getting started. It is that time of year, get out there and take a hike!