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.
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.