While North Georgia offers delightful local shops, beloved eateries, and charming small towns, one of the biggest reasons why people travel here is the great outdoors. Hiking in North Georgia is a favorite Blue Ridge Foothills activity! Below, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about it. For a complete list of our favorite things to do in the region, be sure to download our complimentary North Georgia Vacation Guide!
Your Ultimate Guide to North Georgia Hiking
No matter which season you decide to go hiking in North Georgia, the weather is perfect to tackle some of those more arduous hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Our crisp air and warm sun will set the tone for the perfect trek along any of our favorite trails for hiking in North Georgia. Take advantage of the cooler months (North Georgia fly fishing season) to wind your way past moss-covered boulders and trout streams. The spring and summer months offer warm, balmy temperatures better suited for whitewater rafting and tubing through our cool streams. If you’ve done some hiking in North Georgia before, you know that all seasons here offer truly incredible outdoor experiences!
What You’ll See When Hiking in North Georgia
There are numerous trails to hike in North Georgia that vary in difficulty, length, and type of scenery. In the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains, trails are known for their beautiful waterfalls and epic panoramas, among other breathtaking views. In addition to gorgeous views, you’ll see plenty of native wildlife. Some of the most noticeable creatures that inhabit the Blue Ridge Foothills include black bears, bobcats, coyote, red fox, songbirds, salamanders, and various osprey. In our streams, too, you’ll encounter a variety of fish species like rainbow trout, brown trout, spotted bass, and walleye.
What to Prepare for a North Georgia Hike
Make sure you’re prepared before you head out hiking in North Georgia. Always take the appropriate safety gear, water, food and lots of layers for these cooler months—especially if you’re planning a longer hike. Shorter hikes don’t require as much preparation, of course. For an excursion of any length, be sure to bring a hiking backpack, raincoat or poncho, a form of photo identification, a snack, and plenty of water.
Picking up Provisions
If you need to pick up a few things to prepare yourself, head to Smokey Mountain Trader in Cleveland, GA, to get any last-minute supplies. Another outdoorsman’s dream shop is the historic Mountain Crossings, which is located in a building that was completed in 1937—the same year the Appalachian trail was finished—by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Finally, one more store we highly recommend is Wander North Georgia in Clayton, one of the most unique stores in North Georgia. Don’t forget that you don’t even have to leave Glen-Ella Springs Inn for the essentials! Our Discover the Falls Package provides you and your hiking partner with high-quality backpacks, hiking sticks, aluminum water bottles, area trail descriptions, a picnic lunch, and dinner in our on-site restaurant.
Your Ultimate Guide to North Georgia Hiking Spots
The Appalachian Trail
One of our favorite trails in the area is the famous Appalachian Trail. Whether you want to stroll a small section or are take on a long excursion starting or ending in North Georgia, exploring this trail offers an unforgettable adventure! During or after your journey, be sure to book your stay at Glen-Ella Springs Inn, where you can rest your tired muscles and completely unwind. Here are some tips and tricks for tackling the Appalachian Trail.
Gear, Gadgets, and Supplies
The equipment and clothing you will need for hiking the Appalachian Trail depends on the season, length, and location of your hike, but there are a few general rules that all hikers should follow. When it comes to clothing, always hope for the best weather, but pack for the worst! Be sure to layer your clothes so that you are able to stay warm and dry but can shed layers if you begin to sweat. Additionally, make sure your shoes fit well and are broken in. Nothing puts a damper on a hike quite like a nasty blister!
It’s also crucial that hikers pack some helpful gadgets that can get them out of a bind. A few necessary items include a map and compass, first-aid kit, whistle, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a garbage bag. If you plan on hiking overnight, be sure to add a fire starter, flashlight, and appropriate shelter to your list.
Everyone gets hungry and thirsty, and this is especially true when you’re hiking and burning a lot of energy. Snacks like dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate will help replenish your body in between meals. For longer trips, there are resupply stations along the trail where you can purchase food and restock. If you’re unsure about food packing, consult a “how-to” book for details on what to carry or talk to an experienced hiker.
Camping & Shelters
If you plan on backpacking the Appalachian Trail for an extended length of time, you have two choices for overnight protection: Staying in a shelter or pitching a tent. When camping, be sure to use a designated site so that you can reduce your impact on the environment and wildlife habitats, and can keep the trail looking natural and pristine.
There are also more than 250 backcountry shelters located along the Trail for backpackers on a first-come-first-served basis. These are the best places to stay dry, as they have an overhanging roof, a wooden floor, and three walls. Keep in mind that they are quite small and are intended for individual hikers, not big groups.
Tallulah Gorge State Park
In the North Georgia Mountains, the opportunities for exploration and discovery are limitless. Even when you come back and visit a trail, waterfall, or lake you’ve been to before, you’re sure to notice something new and special about it. One place we never tire of visiting is Tallulah Gorge State Park. This park’s namesake gorge and waterfall demand several visits themselves, but the hiking trails here are especially known for keeping visitors excited time after time. Here are some specific trails to conquer at this breathtaking park.
The moderately difficult Stoneplace Trail in Tallulah Gorge State Park requires a permit to access but is nonetheless a great option for experienced climbers (the trail is 10 miles round trip). Mountain bikers are also allowed on this stretch. Once on the trail, look for the old roadbed and get a sense of North Georgia’s rich history!
North Rim Trail
The North Rim Trail is three-fourths of a mile long and provides hikers with the best southern view of Tallulah Gorge. Several scenic overlooks along the trail offer breathtaking views of Oceania Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, L’Eau d’Or Falls, Tempesta Falls, and Hawthorn Cascade. If you’re looking for a short, relatively easy hike with rewarding scenery, the North Rim Trail is a perfect choice.
Gorge Floor Trail
For the seasoned hiker with a thirst for adventure, the Gorge Floor is a great choice. It’s known for being difficult to conquer, and permits must be obtained to access the rocky gorge floor after which it is named. The hike may be strenuous, but the stunning sights that pepper the journey are worth the trouble. The entirety of this trip is two and a half miles, but prepare to allow an entire day for this excursion. Instead of walking on soil, you’ll be traversing rocks and boulders.
Tallulah Gorge Loop Trail
A trail of moderate difficulty, the Tallulah Gorge Loop Trail is one of the most beloved hiking trails here because it crosses over a narrow suspension bridge that offers spectacular views of the gorge below. You’ll be able to see numerous waterfalls along the way as well. This trail totals 2.5 miles in length, which makes it a great afternoon hike.
Hurricane Falls Loop Trail
Perhaps the reason why the Hurricane Falls Loop Trail is the most popular trail of the Tallulah Gorge State Park is its many stunning overlooks of the surrounding beauty. Enjoy 10 scenic viewing areas where you can view gorgeous waterfalls, streams, and towering mountain peaks. This trail is 2.25 miles long and ranges somewhere in between a moderate to advanced level of difficulty. Just be prepared for lots of stairs as you climb down (and then back up)!
Black Rock Mountain State Park
Black Rock Mountain State Park is Georgia’s highest-elevation state park! It offers a series of high-elevation hikes for both advanced and beginner hikers. This state park, like nearby Tallulah Gorge State Park, offers a unique perspective of the beautiful Blue Ridge scenery. Here are just a few of the best trails to enjoy here.
James E. Edmonds Trail
This strenuous 6.25-mile loop requires traversing many steep passages up the mountain through wooded areas and beside streams. The Edmonds Trail will challenge you with steeply rising and falling elevations, but the amazing views you gain will be worth it!
Ada-Hi Falls Trail
For another difficult hike that is much shorter in distance (only ¼-mile long), check out the Ada-Hi Falls Trail. This hike gives visitors the opportunity to explore the endlessly interesting Appalachian cove ecosystem.
Tennessee Rock Trail
This Black Rock Mountain State Park trail is a moderately difficult 2.2-mile loop. As the park’s most popular trail, it provides absolutely stunning views on clear days.
Black Rock Lake Trail
This hike is less than one mile in length and offers a casual, easy adventure that’s perfect for everyone. You’ll traverse wooden bridges and get great views of trickling streams.
Norma Campbell Cove Trail
The easiest trail at this Georgia state park is the .10 mile Norma Campbell Cove Trail. This newer addition to the park offers a big scenic payout for the minimal effort required to hike it.
Yonah Mountain Trail
You’ll find the Yonah Mountain Trail just 25 miles southwest of Glen-Ella Springs Inn in Helen, Georgia. This beautiful trail is approximately 4.6 miles long and winds through the beloved Chattahoochee National Forest. You can visit year-round and no permits are required to hike. There’s also free parking at the end of the gravel road right next to the trailhead. This trail is considered moderate in difficulty despite its short length. You’ll certainly gain some elevation as you ascend Mount Yonah!
The Yonah Mountain Experience
As you ascend Mount Yonah, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding North Georgia mountains. This trail’s rock face overlooks provide some of the most incredible views you’ve ever seen! We highly recommend exercising caution as you hike this trail; these exposed, high-elevation spots aren’t fenced in, and you could fall if you get too close to the edge. If you’re an experienced rock climber, you can try Yonah Mountain climbing at the base of its main face. A few more things you’ll encounter along the trail include a small footbridge, stone staircases, boulders, and, of course, jaw-dropping sights. You’ll also see some of North Georgia’s famous mountain laurel flowers scattered along this trail and a ranger training ground with public restrooms.
Raven Cliffs Trail
Located in the gorgeous Chattahoochee National Forest, this 5-mile trail leads to one of Georgia’s most stunning cascades, Raven Cliff Falls. This 400-foot waterfall flows into an enormous rock formation in the middle of the mountains, so it’s truly a sight to be seen. The rushing stream and shaded ground make for a cool and enjoyable hike, even in the summer.
Woody Gap to Preacher’s Rock Trail
Looking for a long, time-consuming hike that isn’t too strenuous? This 11.6-mile route is a great choice. You’ll begin at Woody Gap just north of Dahlonega, GA, then conclude your journey near the summit of Big Cedar Mountain. The stunning views of rolling hills and open valleys along this route can’t be beat! From the endpoint, you may choose to head back to Woody Gap or continue into the wilderness toward Blood Mountain. It’s a North Georgia hiking experience you can tailor to your own skill level.
Panther Creek Trail
If you’re looking for a relatively short, moderate hike that leads to one of the most beautiful falls in Georgia, we recommend this trail! You will hike upstream for 3.5 miles to reach the gorgeous cascading falls that spill out into a deep pool bordered by a sandy beach. This is a popular spot for both hiking and camping, so try it on a weekday for more solitude.
Broad River Trail
The Broad River Trail is perfect for novice hikers. It winds through one of the richest archeological areas in Georgia alongside the Broad River. Enjoy numerous cascades and flirt with the mountain stream along the way. Hiking boots are recommended as the stream may flirt back (it may cross your path along the trail in shallow pools).
Minnehaha Falls Trail
One of North Georgia’s hidden gems is Minnehaha Falls! Located just a short drive away from Glen-Ella Springs Inn in Lakemont, this short and easy hike leads to an incredible display of one of the region’s most stunning waterfalls. You don’t need more than 30 minutes to experience this natural wonder! Plus, the drive over (winding past beautiful lakefront homes) is peaceful and scenic. For this trail, be sure to park on the right side of the road where you’ll see a designated clearing.
Duke’s Creek Trail
Duke’s Creek Trail, originally explored by Hernando de Soto, is located just north of the town of Helen. The length of this trail totals 2.2 miles round-trip and is considered a moderate level of difficulty. A paved, wheelchair accessible portion of this trail leads to an observation deck, so hikers of all ages and abilities can enjoy this scenic area of the North Georgia Mountains. Parking is available and you can even bring your (leashed) furry friend along. Before you visit, know that this trail is only accessible March through October.
Twin Falls Trail
If you like the idea of winding through wooded areas and sprawling hillsides, you’ll love the Twin Falls Trail. The prize for tackling this moderate hike? A double-sprouted waterfall at the end. We highly recommend it!
Hikers of all ages can enjoy the 2.7-mile loop of Sourwood Trail that offers observations of both scenery and wildlife. Look for Nancytown Falls just one mile into the trail and a beaver pond just beyond the falls.
Lady Slipper Trail
Visit Lady Slipper Trail in the spring or summer to witness wildflowers blooming in a rainbow of colors. The Lady Slipper Trail is pedestrian- and equestrian-friendly! The panoramic views are inspiring any time of the year.
Don’t settle for a cold, impersonal hotel room (or rough it at a primitive campsite) during your outdoor adventure in the North Georgia mountains. Enjoy your getaway to the fullest by treating yourself to a stay at Glen-Ella Springs Inn, a cozy and historic Select Registry property nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains! Our luxurious bed and breakfast provides each guest with comfortable, rustic-chic rooms, excellent amenities like a gourmet breakfast, and plenty of warm hospitality. In addition to your in-room perks like complimentary coffee K-cups and mini Belgian chocolates, guests may visit our 24-hour Garden House for freshly baked treats, granola bars, soft drinks, and other goodies.
Spend your time exploring the many nearby things to do or simply relax in your beautiful, spacious guest suite. Whether you choose one of our Penthouse Suites, King Rooms, Queen Rooms, or Three-Room Suites, you’ll leave feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and pampered. Don’t forget to browse our unique specials and packages (like the Adventure Package) meant to help you make the most of your outdoorsy getaway!