Guidebook

Best Hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Ellijay, GA

Plan your next trip to North Georgia and explore these classic hikes all around Ellijay, including sections of the Pinhoti, Appalachian, and Benton MacKaye Trails.

Description

This guidebook is the perfect way to explore some of the best hikes in the North Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains, located less than two hours from Atlanta. Pristine waterfalls, sweeping vistas, and plenty of history make this a must-explore area for any level of hiker.

For the waterfall chaser, Amicalola Falls, Emery Creek Falls, and Falls Branch Falls on the Benton MacKaye Trails are all top destinations near Ellijay. Emery Creek offers several swimming holes along a ~2.5-mile trek to a beautiful two-stage waterfall. A 2-mile loop at Amicalola Falls State Park climbs to the top of Georgia’s tallest waterfall then takes you along a series of wooden bridges and stairs as it parallels the falls back to the bottom. Falls Branch Falls is another popular short hike just east of Cherry Log and is popular for anyone staying in the town of Blue Ridge. The waterfall is ~1.3 miles into the Benton MacKaye Trail from the trailhead along Rock Creek Road. Thanks to its popularity, there are plenty of signs denoting the way.

To the west and not far from Chatsworth, Fort Mountain State Park offers incredible hiking opportunities with countless views and a waterfall. Remnants of former talc mines line the mountain and offer a glimpse into the region’s vast history. The Gahuti Trail is a well-marked loop through the park that visits a waterfall, several vistas, and includes four overnight campsites on the 8-mile loop. A shorter loop at the summit visits an old stone fire tower, excellent overlook, and remnants of an ancient stone wall. Most theories trace the remnants to the Cherokee, though other studies have shown it may predate even the oldest of estimates.

Nearly 330 miles in length, the Pinhoti Trail passes to the south and east of Fort Mountain, bound for its northern terminus. Translated as “place of the turkey” or “turkey home” in certain Native American languages, the Pinhoti connects to the Benton MacKaye Trail just north of Ellijay. In the early 1900s, Benton MacKaye published a book where he “envisioned a great trail through the Appalachian Range," according to adventurer Jesse Weber. Now complete, the BMT passes over the summit of Springer Mountain, the southernmost terminus of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. You have to hike at least one section of the AT, if only just the Approach Trail, or drive to the summit of Springer Mountain for a 4-mile loop with multiple vistas and lush forest.

Northwest of Ellijay, enjoy a multi-day backpacking trip on the Conasauga River Trail. The second longest trail in the region, this thru-hike runs through the remote Cohutta Wilderness and offers plenty of options for camping. Countless creek crossings will require you to get your feet wet along the way, making this trail perfect to visit in the heat of summer.

Sources:
http://hikealabama.org/joomla/index.php/trails-and-maps/pinhoti-trail

Benton MacKaye Trail
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Benton MacKaye Trail

Dahlonega
1 day +
453.3 km
13,368 m
13,641 m
Named for the creator of the Appalachian Trail, this lesser-known alternative route through the Southern Appalachians links scenery that's just as wild.
Difficult
Private
Amicalola Falls: AT Approach Trail
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Amicalola Falls: AT Approach Trail

Dahlonega
3 - 4 hrs
13.4 km
959 m
358 m
The 8-mile approach to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
Difficult
Private
Appalachian Trail: Springer Mountain to Neels Gap
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Appalachian Trail: Springer Mountain to Neels Gap

Dahlonega
1 day +
48.7 km
2,122 m
2,326 m
The southern terminus for the world-renowned Appalachian Trail.
Difficult
Private
Pinhoti Trail: Dennis Mill Road to Mulberry Gap
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Pinhoti Trail: Dennis Mill Road to Mulberry Gap

Ellijay
6 - 7 hrs
29.3 km
1,186 m
940 m
The Pinhoti Trail as it enters the Cohutta Mountains.
Difficult
Private
Gahuti Mountain Trail
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Gahuti Mountain Trail

Ellijay
3 - 4 hrs
12.7 km
545 m
555 m
An 8-mile hiking loop with lush views, challenging terrain, and a waterfall.
Moderate
Private
Fort Mountain Summit Loop
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Fort Mountain Summit Loop

Ellijay
0 - 1 hrs
2.5 km
127 m
127 m
A summit hike atop Fort Mountain including a ~40 stone fire tower, lush overlook, and ruins of an ancient stone wall.
Moderate
Private
Emery Creek Falls
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Emery Creek Falls

Ellijay
1 - 2 hrs
7.3 km
227 m
225 m
A magnificent two-part waterfall located deep in a former logging area.
Moderate
Private
Conasauga River Trail
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Conasauga River Trail

4 - 5 hrs
19.1 km
884 m
453 m
A classic river hike through the Cohutta Mountains.
Difficult
Private
Amicalola Falls Loop
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Amicalola Falls Loop

Dahlonega
1 - 2 hrs
3.4 km
239 m
239 m
A loop pairing the AT Approach Trail and East Ridge Trail to Georgia's tallest waterfall.
Difficult
Private
Springer Mountain Loop
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Springer Mountain Loop

Dahlonega
1 - 2 hrs
6.6 km
263 m
263 m
A day hike at Springer Mountain pairing two iconic thru-hiking trails.
Moderate
Private