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.
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.