Fall is probably the best season for enjoying the hiking trails of Georgia, with its slightly cooler temperatures that tend to linger and of course all of the vibrant colors that come along with the season. There are several areas in the north Georgia mountains that are worth taking a trip to in order to witness some of the best that Georgia’s nature has to offer. Of course there are more than three areas, but the following three trails and/or parks should definitely be at the top of the list.
The first trail worth mentioning is in the Blood Mountain Wilderness near Lake Winfield Scott, located just off of GA Why 60 and north of Suches. The trail is called the Slaughter Creek Trail, which takes hikers from the low point at Lake Winfield Scott and meanders upward through the wilderness for 2.7 miles before ending at Slaughter Gap, the ending point for the Duncan Ridge Trail and intersection of the famous Appalachian Trail. During the hike (which is mostly of easy to moderate difficulty), the trail crosses Slaughter Creek several as it makes its way into the Blood Mountain Wilderness. Eastern Hemlocks, rhododendron and mountain laurel line the trail as you make your way towards its end. Great views of Slaughter Mountain to the east are visible in the latter part of fall. Instead of going back the same way to end the hike, you can walk on part of the AT for roughly 2 miles which leads southwest to Jarrard Gap, followed by a short trail that leads back to Lake Winfield Scott known as the Jarrard Gap Trail. At Slaughter Gap, you can also take the AT northward to the top of Blood Mountain for some fantastic views of the Georgia Piedmont.
Another great area in north Georgia is Tray Mountain, which is close to Unicoi State Park. Albeit a fairly strenuous hike to the summit of Tray Mountain from Unicoi Gap, the payoff for some great views of the surrounding areas is well worth it. You also hike up and over Rocky Mountain before reaching Tray, which also offers some great views. The main trail in this area is the Appalachian Trail, which takes you up and over both mountains in the area; however, if you are looking for something slightly less strenuous, Unicoi State Park has some great local trails as well, including the Bottoms Loop Trail and the Smith Creek Trail. The hiking distance from Unicoi Gap to the summit of Tray Mountain is approximately 5.2 miles one-way, which makes for a great day-long hike.
A third area in north Georgia worth visiting during the fall season is Amicalola Falls State Park, located west of Dahlonega and just south of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus for the Appalachian Trail. Along with the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, the hikes around the falls offer some amazing views south towards Atlanta. This park is heavily trafficked during this time of year, as it has become a must-see when it comes to the fall season in Georgia. If you tend to avoid the crowded areas, the aforementioned sections of north Georgia are more suitable.
Of course, almost any trail or park you visit in north Georgia during this time of year is sure to make your jaw drop when it comes to the beauty of the area, but these three (Slaughter Creek and Blood Mountain Wilderness, Tray Mountain and Amicalola Falls) should definitely be towards the top of the list.