There are plenty of opportunities to wander on public access hiking trails in Dawson, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union and White counties in Northeast Georgia. The following is a county-by-county listing with general directions provided.
Inside Amicalola State Park Amicalola Falls East Ridge Trail. This is a steady, strenuous climb to the top of Amicalola Falls;
Amicalola Falls Trail. This is a steep, staired descent along the face of the waterfall to the reflecting pool, with a return to the visitors center along the base of falls trail. Depending on how you’re feeling, you can start at the top of the stairs and work your way down, or start at the base and go up. Either way, the views of Amicalola Falls are spectacular;
Amicalola Falls West Ridge Trail. Explore the western ridge of Amicalola Falls on this shaded, quiet trail that crosses a small bridge and winds its way along a foot path to the visitors center;
Southern Terminus Approach Trail to the Appalachian Trail. The southern terminus access trail begins behind the Amicalola Falls Visitors Center, climbs to the top of Amicalola Falls, crosses the road to the lodge and then climbs through the Amicalola watershed to Springer Mountain.
Highway 53, west of downtown Dawsonville Amicalola River Trail. Hike to the “Edge of the World” rapids, then up to explore the 10,000-acre Dawson Forest Wildlife Management area. This is a user fee area and requires a Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass. Call 1-800-366-2661 or georgiawildlife.com/recreational-licenses in advance of your visit. Cost: $3.50 for a three-day individual pass or $19 annually.
Off Steve Tate Highway Wildcat Campground Trail. This features primitive campsites with no facilities and a flat, easy hike along Amicalola Creek. About one hour in, the terrain changes and a steep climb leads to Falls Creek Falls. Round-trip: approximately six hours. There is a wide water crossing with a hand rope for safety. Also, several steep rock climbs along the path.
Broad River Trail. Take state Route 365 N. from Cornelia. Take the Toccoa/Lavonia fork and stay on SR 365 for 1-1/2 miles. Turn right onto Rock Road. Drive 0.7 mile and turn left onto Dicks Hill Parkway. Travel another 2.4 miles and turn left on Forest Service Road 87. Go 3 miles to reach the trailhead at Dicks Creek;
Lady Slipper Trail. Take U.S. 441 (state Route
365) N. from Cornelia to the first Clarkesville exit onto state Route 197. From the exit, turn right onto SR 197. After reaching the second stop sign, turn right onto Dicks Hill Parkway. Travel 0.8 mile and turn left onto Lake Russell Road. Turn left toward Nancytown Lake and follow the signs to the parking area. The trailhead is located 0.2 mile behind the gate at a paved road;
Lake Russell Trail. Take U.S. 441 (state Route
365) N. from Cornelia and exit at state Route 197 toward Clarkesville. From the exit, turn right onto SR 197. At the second stop sign, turn left onto Lake Russell Road. Turn left toward Nancytown Lake and follow the signs for parking. The trailhead begins at the dam; Panther Creek Trailhead. Take U.S. 441 N. from Cornelia and stay on the main road for 16 miles. From the highway, turn left onto Glen Hardman Road, then right onto Old Historic Highway 441 for 1 mile to the parking area;
Sourwood Trail. Take U.S. 441 (state Route 365) N. from Cornelia to the Clarkesville exit at state Route 197. Turn right onto SR 197. At the second stop sign, turn right onto Dicks Hill Parkway. Go 0.8 mile and turn left onto Lake Russell Road. Go 2 miles and turn left to Nancytown Lake. Follow the signs to the parking area. The trailhead begins at the dam;
Tallulah Gorge Loop Trail. Hike into the 600-foot gorge. Kayaking and in-gorge hiking allowed with permits;
Hogpen Gap to Unicoi Gap. Hike from Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway to state Route 75.
The Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail, the grandaddy trail of them all, stretches more than 2,000 miles from Springer Mountain to Maine. It has several nearby access points including Woody Gap off state Route 60;
Lake Zwerner Trail (Dahlonega Reservoir). From Dahlonega’s public square take East Main Street to the Morrison Moore Parkway intersection and turn left;
Dockery Lake Trail. From Dahlonega’s public square take East Main Street to the Morrison Moore Parkway intersection and turn left. Remain on that road until Stonepile Gap. At the fork in the road at the pile of stones, take state Route 60 straight ahead. The sign for Dockery Lake Recreation Area will be on the right side of SR 60;
Yahoola Creek Park. From Dahlonega’s public square take East Main Street, then take a right on Memorial Drive. Go two blocks and turn right on Morrison Moore Parkway. Take the first left onto Mechanicsville Street.
Bartram Trail. This 37-mile trail extends across the peak of Rabun Bald to the Chattooga River. Parts of the hike are steep and include strenuous water crossings; Minnehaha Trail. Take U.S. 441 N. from Tallulah Falls for 3 miles to the Rabun Beach Recreation area sign. Turn left on an unnumbered county road and follow the signs to the recreation area. Continue west for 1 mile past the recreation area before turning left onto Flat Creek Road, across the river below Seed Lake Dam. Follow the left fork of the road for 1.7 miles until you reach a sign marking the trail on the right side of the road;
Angel Falls Trail. A 1.6-mile hike that passes by Panther Falls to a lookout below Angel Falls;
Hemlock Trail. Begins at Moccasin Creek State Park and follows an old railroad bed for about 1 mile. The hike, which offers good fishing access, ends at Hemlock Falls;
Warwoman Dell Nature Trail. This 0.4-mile loop begins at the end of Warwoman Dell picnic area. The hike offers views of a waterfall and wildflowers;
Rabun Bald Trail. A 2.9-mile trail leading to the summit of Rabun Bald, which is Georgia’s secondhighest peak. The hike up the mountain is steep;
Willis Knob. This 15-mile hiking and horseback riding trail features rugged terrain and views of the Chattooga River;
Chattooga River Trail. A 10.7-mile hike beginning where state Route 76 East crosses the Chattooga River at the Georgia-South Carolina border.
Curahee Mountain. This is a popular 3-mile steep climb up to the top of the historic Currahee Mountain, elevation 1,735 feet, the last mountain in the Blue Ridge chain. Part of the mountain is in the Chattahoochee National Forest. From Toccoa, travel west on state Route 123 toward Cornelia. Cross the intersection at SR 17/Toccoa Bypass and continue on Dicks Hill Parkway. At 2 miles, turn left on the dirt road and park off to the side at the base.
Lake Chatuge Trail. This 1.2-mile loop trail surrounds Lake Chatuge. Take U.S. 19/129 S. 11 miles from Blairsville. Turn right onto state Route
288. Go 1 mile and turn left into Lake Chatuge Recreation Area;
Jacks Knob Trail. This 2-mile trail starts with a short climb out of the Brasstown Bald parking lot, then descends nearly 1,500 feet through a series of switchbacks. It crosses state Route 180 in Jacks Gap and then climbs about 2.2 miles to the Appalachian Trail at Chattahoochee Gap. Approximately 0.2 mile south of Jacks Gap, the trail enters the Mark Trail Wilderness. Travel 8 miles on U.S. 19/129 S. from Blairsville, turn left onto SR 180. Go 8 miles and turn left onto SR 180 spur, travel 3 miles to the Brasstown Bald Visitor Center parking lot; Rocky Mountain Trail.This trail climbs gradually from FS Road 283, Indian Grave Gap Road, to the Appalachian Trail (AT) on the side of Rocky Mountain. A 3.5-mile loop trail can be made by combining the AT, Rocky Mountain Trail and FS Road 283. Eleven miles from Helen on state Route 75 north from Helen, turn right onto Indian Grave Gap Road, graveled FS Road 283. At 1.5 miles, pass the parking lot for High Shoals Trail on the left; continue for 0.5 mile to trailhead on the right. Limited parking. FS Road 283 fords a shallow stream close to entrances at Indian Grave Gap Road.
Appalachian Trail. You can access the Appalachian Trail in several points in Union County via Vogel State Park and Lake Winfield Scott. Paved access to the AT is available at Woody Gap, Neel Gap, Testate Gap and Hog Pen Gap;
Arkaquah Trail. Trail runs from a ridge from Brasstown Bald parking lot to Track Rock Gap, providing excellent views. The trail is within the Brasstown Wilderness for about 5 miles of its length. This trail is not blazed. Eight miles from Blairsville off U.S. 19/129 south, left on state Route
180. Go 8 miles and turn left (north) onto SR 180 spur. Travel 3 miles to the Brasstown Bald Visitor Center parking lot;
Bear Hair Gap Trail. This is a 4-mile loop trail beginning and ending at Vogel State Park. Ten miles from Blairsville off U.S. 19/129 south from Blairsville;
Byron Herbert Reece Access Trail. This trail provides access to the Appalachian Trail at Flat Rock Gap, entirely within the Blood Mountain Wilderness. Twelve miles from Blairsville off U.S. 19/129 South at the Byron Herbert Reece Memorial;
DeSoto Falls Trail. This trail begins at the bridge in the lower loop of DeSoto Falls Recreation Area. A relatively easy 0.25-mile trail leads south to lower falls; the upper falls is about 0.75 mile one way to the north. Fifteen miles from Cleveland, take U.S. 129 North from Cleveland or 18 miles from Dahlonega on U.S. 19 North to the DeSoto Falls Recreation Area;
Dockery Lake Trail. This 3-mile trail provides another access to the Appalachian Trail, traveling north over an old logging road and terminating at Miller Gap. About 1 mile north of the lake, the trail enters the Blood Mountain Wilderness. Take U.S. 19 North from Dahlonega for 8.2 miles to the intersection of state Route 60 for 3.6 miles and turn right on FS Road 654 opposite the Dockery Lake Recreation Area sign. Trail starts after hiking 1 mile to the picnic area parking lot; Duncan Ridge Trail. This challenging 3.5-mile trail begins on Long Creek near Three Forks on the Appalachian Trail, goes north, and crosses the Toccoa River on a 260-foot swinging bridge. The trail then leads north and west along Duncan Ridge through Mulky Gap to Slaughter Gap. About 1.25 miles on the eastern end are within the Blood Mountain Wilderness. Take U.S. 19/129 South from Blairsville, for 9.5 miles, right onto state Route 180 and go 3 miles to Wolfpen Gap. The trail crosses SR 180 in the gap;
Lakeshore Trail. This loop trail encircles Dockery Lake and is accessible to people with disabilities. Footpaths provide access to fishing areas around the lake as well as a fishing platform located on the dam. Take U.S. 19 North from Dahlonega for 8.2 miles to the intersection of SR 60 for 3.6 miles and turn right on FS Road 654 opposite the Dockery Lake Recreation Area sign. Travel 1 mile to the picnic area;
Lake Winfield Scott Trail. This 0.4-mile loop trail follows the lakeshore, allowing easy access for fishing. Part of the trail is paved but most is gravel surfaced. Take U.S. 19/129 south from Blairsville, for 9.5 miles. Turn right (west) onto SR 180 and go 7 miles to the main entrance to Lake Winfield Scott campground;
Logan Turnpike Trail. This 3.8-mile section of a former toll road from the 1800s accesses Raven Cliffs Wilderness.The trail parallels Town Creek. The first mile is easy, but the next section is strenuous. This historic trail accesses the Appalachian Trail at Tesnatee Gap. Take U.S. 19 North from Dahlonega for 13.5 miles to Turners Corner. Turn right, head south on U.S. 129 for 2.8 miles. Turn left on Town Creek Road, go 2.8 miles, parking area is at the wilderness boundary;
Mill Shoals Trail. This 3.4-mile trail begins north of the Cooper Creek Recreation Area, ending at Shope Gap on FS Road 39. Twentytwo miles from Dahlonega off SR 60 North, right on FS Road 33 for 0.8 mile. Turn left on FS Road 236 for 3 miles to Cooper Creek Recreation Area parking. From parking lot, walk north along FS Road 236. Continue past Yellow Mountain Trailhead for 100 yards to Mill Shoals trailhead. At approximately 2.4 miles the trail runs concurrent with FS Road 39 for about 1 mile before reaching Shope Gap;
Slaughter Creek Trail. This 2.7-mile trail leads from Lake Winfield Scott campground to the Appalachian Trail at Slaughter Gap. This moderate trail enters the Blood Mountain Wilderness about 1 mile before reaching Slaughter Gap. Take U.S. 19/129 South from Blairsville, for 9.5 miles. Turn right (west) onto SR 180 and go 7 miles to the main entrance to Lake Winfield Scott campground; Wagon Train Trail. This 5.8-mile trail follows an old roadbed from Brasstown Bald through the Brasstown Wilderness to the National Forest boundary, 1 mile south of Young Harris. Take U.S. 19/129 South from Blairsville, for 8 miles. Turn left (east) onto SR 180. Go 8 miles and turn left (north) onto SR 180 spur. Access from the Brasstown Bald Visitor Center parking lot.
Appalachian Trail. You can access the Appalachian Trail in several points in White County. The trail runs along part of the county’s northern border. Two access points with parking is Hog Pen Gap on Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway and Unicoi Gap on state Route 75;
Raven Cliffs Trail. This much-loved trail parallels a rushing creek the entire way. The 5-mile hike is relatively easy until the final climb up to the falls, which are hidden between two cliffs. But watch your step along the stream; injuries are common. The trailhead is located off Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway, 2.8 miles from SR Alt. 75;
Dukes Creek Trail. This 2-mile hike is ideal at any time of year. Dukes Creek Trail starts out paved, descends down a tree-lined dirt path as wide as a road, then narrows to switchbacks before reaching the creek. From the observation platform, you’ll see impressive waterfalls from Davis and Dodd creeks, which intersect to form Dukes Creek. The trailhead is off Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway, a halfmile east of the Raven Cliffs;
Yonah Mountain Trail. You haven’t truly experienced White County until you’ve scaled its most distinctive summit, 3,166-foot Yonah Mountain. The 5-mile hike is a bit strenuous, but you’ll be rewarded with dazzling views. You may also see technical climbers ascending the granite rock face. But if you’re not roped up, stay away from the cliff’s edge. To get to the trailhead, turn off SR 75 North onto Tom Bell Road, then turn on Chambers Road;
Unicoi Lake Trail. This 2.5-mile loop trail is the perfect family hike at any time of the year, and it’s especially enjoyable when the leaves change color. You’ll stroll through peaceful forests, cross a beach and stop at several fishing platforms on the 53-acre lake. The trailhead is on SR 356 north of Helen, near the Unicoi State Park entrance.