If you, like us, are a hiking family then you should not hesitate to make your way to Blood Mountain in Blairsville. It’s not easy…I’ll be honest. But it is rewarding, and one hike the kids won’t stop talking about!
Lace up your hiking boots, and dig out those trekking poles. You’ll need them. Here is why this is our favorite trail, and why it will be yours also!
It’s one of the most popular trails in Georgia
Every time we hike this trail we meet people from all over Georgia….and across the South. People come from hundreds of miles around to take on this amazing day hike.
You will most certainly run across people on your hike…but it’s not saturated. Even on the busiest of days, there is still elbow room on the trails and at the top – so don’t let that discourage you. Just take it as a sign that you need this hike in your life!
It’s under 5 miles
This North Georgia hike into the Blood Mountain Wilderness is 4.3 miles round trip…but I’ll be honest. It’s intense.
OK – not so intense that we went without the kids. The first time we did it, Elliot was 3 yrs and Cooper was 7yrs. E was in the Ergo almost the whole way, but the 7yo did it with ease. Just remember – he’s a lifetime hiker.
We always follow my friends over at Atlanta Trails for all the details….according to them, the elevation gain is just under 1500 feet..over about 2 miles. Yup – intense. But that brings me to point number three….
The summit is the highest point on the Georgia AT
We look a little rough in that picture above, but our last summit hike was magical. It was the day hurricane Florence hit the coast, and that pulled all the clouds and humidity out of the air leaving fantastic views all around. (I’m trying to paint a silver lining to the devastation she wrecked.)
We stepped a bit to the right from this vantage point and could even see the Atlanta skyline! Bring your binoculars, and seek out a low humidity day for the best views of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
At 4458 ft high, it is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia! The highest peak on the whole AT? Just a little north at Clingman’s Dome in Gatlinburg – 6643 feet.
There is a cool shelter at the top
Following the white blazed trail to the top will welcome you with a view and the Civilian Conservation Corps shelter. It was built in the 1930s and serves as an overnight option for thru hikers. The kids will love exploring here!
You can camp just off the trail
There are campsites along the trail – both for thru hikers and for those looking for an overnight respite during a longer hike (maybe a thirteen-mile adventure exploring Blood Mountain, Neels Gap, Wolf Laurel Top, and Cowrock Mountain?)
Just take note, there are no water sources here so you’ll have to bring in your own…there is not even a source to filter. Be prepared!
Extend your hike to Mountain Crossing
On our way back, we passed the Byron Reece trail head and continues on the AT, over US 19, to Mountain Crossing. This detour of 1 mile replaced the .7 mile trail connector we took from the parking lot, but the walk was very very easy.
We rested at Mountain Crossing, took in some music (they were having their annual Fall Festival,) and enjoyed the view. After a while I sent hubby back on the main road to get the car and pick us up. You can’t park at Mountain Crossing for more than 20 minutes, so you won’t want to park here for the hike.
If you have older kids then you could all possibly walk back to the car from Neels Gap, but it is a busy, wind-y road and you’ll have to walk single-file. I recommend sending Dad like we did, if it’s possible. Otherwise, take the trail connector back and then drive back up for a short visit.
It’s close to tons of other Blairsville favorites
Let’s talk about the trail itself. When you park at Byron Reece and head up the trail head at Flatrock Gap (about .7 miles)–from here you have a few choices.
Turn right to make your way to Blood Mountain – that’s the hike that this post is all about.
Turn left and you head into Neel’s Gap and toward Mountain Crossing…we recommend finishing your hike this way Ascend Blood Mountain, turn around and come back…but walk straight through Flatrock Gap to Mountain Crossing (see above.)
If you go straight at Flatrock, you can take Freeman Trail until it connects to the AT, creating the Blood Mountain Loop (This link heads over to Atlanta trails, which details this loop from the AT to the Freeman trail – backward from what I mention here.)
OK. Let’s get off the trail now…what else is around here?
I love Blairsville, and many of my favorite stops are on the same stretch of road that you find the Byron Reece Trailhead Parking lot.
- DeSoto Falls
- Lake Winfield Scott (We’re anxious to try the Blood Mtn Wilderness hike from here, looping along Slaughter Creek)
- Vogel State Park (great place to get a cabin for a weekend of hiking)
- Helton Creek Falls
What about your family? Have you hiked Blood Mountain? Share your story in the comments!
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Disclosure: Thanks to our friends in Blairsville for partnering with us on this post! We love Blairsville and Blood Mountain truly is our family favorite. Opinions here are all our own!
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.