Guidebook

Blue Ridge Mtns: Top Trail Running Routes in Ellijay, GA

Plan a "Runcation" to North Georgia and explore these classic trail runs centered 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 trail running opportunities 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 all levels of trail runners.

To the west (and not far from Chatsworth), Fort Mountain State Park offers incredible trail running 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 and Trail 301 are great loops through the park, plus an optional summit loop pays a visit to a beautiful fire tower and remnants of a man-made stone wall. There are several theories of its origin, most of which trace back to the Cherokee Natives or religious purposes.

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 run 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, Emery Creek Falls is a beautiful two-part waterfall perfect for new or experienced trail runners. It’s easily one of the most visited waterfalls in all of North Georgia and visits several swimming holes along the way. For a remote backcountry run that challenges even the strongest of runners, check out the nearby Western Cohutta Wilderness Loop. It traverses through remote areas with a rich history of logging and follows the beautiful Conasauga River Trail. Expect complete autonomy along this loop, plus plenty of wildflowers in the summertime.

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

Western Cohutta Wilderness Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Western Cohutta Wilderness Loop

Ellijay
15.4 km
719 m
717 m
A backcountry trail running loop with big elevation gain, vistas, wildflowers, and several river crossings.
Difficult
Private
Emery Creek Falls
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Emery Creek Falls

Ellijay
7.3 km
227 m
225 m
A trail run to a magnificent two-part waterfall located deep in a former logging area.
Moderate
Private
Fort Mountain Summit Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Fort Mountain Summit Loop

Ellijay
2.5 km
127 m
127 m
A short trail run or addition to the Gahuti Trail, paying visit to a 40' tall fire tower, lush overlook, and ruins of an ancient stone wall.
Moderate
Private
Gahuti Mountain Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Gahuti Mountain Trail

Ellijay
12.7 km
545 m
555 m
An 8-mile trail running loop with lush views, challenging terrain, and a waterfall.
Moderate
Private
Trail 301
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Trail 301

Ellijay
21.9 km
880 m
887 m
A long loop through Fort Mountain State Park with plenty of views and remnants of abandoned talc mines.
Moderate
Private
Springer Mountain Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Springer Mountain Loop

Dahlonega
6.6 km
263 m
263 m
A ~4-mile trail run that pairs the iconic Appalachian Trail to the Benton MacKaye Trail.
Moderate
Private
Benton MacKaye Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

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
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

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
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

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
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

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
Pinhoti Trail: Mulberry Gap to Benton MacKaye Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Pinhoti Trail: Mulberry Gap to Benton MacKaye Trail

Ellijay
6 - 7 hrs
29.3 km
1,230 m
965 m
The northernmost segment of the Pinhoti, terminating at the Benton MacKaye Trail.
Difficult
Private