When someone tells you to “take a hike”, gladly tell them you’re happy to go, and then make your way to Blue Ridge, Georgia, and the surrounding area. The beauty of the North Georgia Mountains is phenomenal and Fannin County in particular is a great place to base your trip.
There are numerous hiking trails on Blue Ridge Mountain and in the surrounding region, ranging from easy, scenic walks, to challenging, strenuous hikes. You’ll pass through streams and walk by waterfalls. There are panoramic views of surrounding mountains and valleys that’ll make you glad you laced up those hiking boots and took a walk “on the wild side”.
Ready to get started? Here are 7 great trail options for hiking in Blue Ridge GA!
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COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN BLUE RIDGE GA
- Best for Foodies. Hampton Inn Blue Ridge is located in the heart of downtown Blue Ridge and features an amazing rooftop restaurant, Hook & Eye. With “burgers, brews, and beautiful views,” this is one restaurant you don’t want to miss. You’ll enjoy a free breakfast buffet at this hotel as well.
- Great Location. Comfort Inn & Suites is a pet-friendly family hotel just a few minutes from the downtown area, and even closer to Mercier Orchards and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
- Beautiful Mountain Views. The Blue Ridge Lodge and RV Park is about 5 miles from downtown, but the area does offer great views and is close enough to be convenient to all the festivals and fun you can find in town. The Lodge is quaint and all the rooms are furnished differently, unlike the more mainstream feel of a chain hotel. There are cottages, a RV park, and a lake house, too.
SWINGING BRIDGE TRAIL
The Swinging Bridge Trail is an easy one, but getting there is not as simple. Essentially, you have to drive down a narrow and rocky road with a lot of potholes. I did it in a little sedan and definitely questioned myself along the way.
Take a truck if you have access to one, though I made it, so guess I’m proof it’s possible. Just don’t blame me if you end up with damage to your car…or to your spine if your shocks aren’t in great shape. Anyway, you have to drive about three miles down that road, very slowly, but once you get to the parking lot, the hike is a breeze.
The hike is just about half-a-mile walk down to the Swinging Bridge and the trail is marked well. It only takes about 20 minutes there and back to get from the trailhead to the suspension bridge, though you could take your time and explore the area much longer, or sit in the cleared out area off to the left before the bridge and have a picnic and enjoy the Toccoa River as it bubbles by. It’s a popular spot, so expect to see other people along the way.
The bridge itself is fun. It’s the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi. When you step on, you can actually feel the bridge sway and hop a little. But as you start to cross, it feels more stable and steady the further you go.
The views from the bridge are fabulous, and this is one of those hikes you can take the whole family on, since it’s so short and easy to hike. But again, brace for a nerve wracking drive down the road to get there. It should relieve you to know it definitely felt quicker driving back out.
FALL BRANCH FALLS TRAIL
Fall Branch Falls Trail is another quick roundtrip jaunt that is considered a pretty moderate hike for most people. It’s part of the nearly 300 mile Benton MacKaye Trail, but this is just a one-mile round trip hike there and back. This section is near Cherry Log, and takes you to the Fall Branch Falls waterfall.
You’ll see other people on this hike, too. When you drive in, the road goes from paved to gravel, but the trailhead isn’t far from there. Expect lots of deep ruts in the parking area.
Once you park, it’s mostly uphill to the falls, which isn’t fun, but you go through a shady, mossy forest seeing mountain laurel and rhododendron along the way. Plus, getting the uphill part out of the way at the beginning means it’ll be all downhill back to the car, which is always nice.
Read More: EXPLORE FALL BRANCH FALLS IN BEAUTIFUL BLUE RIDGE GA
LONG CREEK FALLS TRAIL
The Long Creek Falls Trail is longer than the last two hikes, at nearly two miles there and back. That said, it’s considered an easy route in the Chattahoochee National Forest, and should only take an hour.
You’ll see some people running this trail, though many more are walking and hiking it. In fact, many will be backpackers with stories about their adventures on the famed Appalachian Trail.
If you drive in, again, getting there is a bit of a struggle with the main road being super bumpy. A 4×4 would be good on this road if you have access to one, but not mandatory. The drive there is gorgeous with mountain views all around.
While hiking, there’s a slight elevation to endure, but the end result is worth it all. Be sure not to take the side that has the walking bridge, because that won’t get you to the falls. If you go the right way, the hike is easy until the end, and very pretty as it follows the river. Follow the incline at the end and you’ll finally see the Long Creek Falls sign, and ultimately the falls.
Read More: 9+ AMAZING WATERFALLS IN BLUE RIDGE GA YOU’LL WANT TO CHASE
LAKE BLUE RIDGE LOOP
If you want an easy but pretty hike, try the Lake Blue Ridge Loop. It’s a more-or-less leisurely walk, less than a mile long and shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes.
It’s a wooded trail with lots of great views of the lake, but does get narrow in some spots and the ground is a little unstable in certain areas. The recreation area is right there, with the parking lot shared with Blue Ridge Lake and Chattahoochee Day use parking, and it’s popular for camping and birding, along with hiking.
When you’re in the parking lot, don’t pay attention to the sign for bikes, because that’s not the way you want to go. You want to head to the small boardwalk off to the left if you’re facing the lake. You’ll take the non-paved loop trail around the lake and walk through the woods. You could also do the paved walk. They’re both pretty easy.
On the unpaved one there are rocks and tree roots and even some inclines, so watch your step along the way, but it shouldn’t be strenuous by any means. You can pack a picnic because between the two paths there are stairs leading to picnic tables and lake access. The paths are not marked well, but you’ll have good cell reception here, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost.
SPRINGER MOUNTAIN APPROACH TRAIL
The Appalachian Trail starts near Amicalola Falls State Park, but you need to climb a lot of stairs to get there. The positive part is the stairs go up the side of a waterfall, so it’s a beautiful view as you go. Once you get to the top, you’ll pass a lodge and will officially be on the Approach Trail, and from this point, you’ll only be about seven miles from Springer Mountain. The stairs really are the worst part.
The Springer Mountain Approach Trail is pretty boring, other than the site of an old plane crash and a few campsites sprinkled in the area. There is a place to stop if you get tired, though, at Black Gap Shelter. But once you get to Springer Mountain, you will have finished the uphill hike, and that’s where you’ll spot the two plaques marking the start of the Appalachian Trail. It also has a stunning overlook, and to me, this is a great place to stop and just honor where you are and how you got there.
From Springer Mountain, you can head back down to Amicalola Falls or continue on the Appalachian Trail. If you can time this to hit that overlook at sunset, it’s something you won’t forget.
You will pay a fee for parking at Amicalola Falls State Park and if you’re staying overnight, that requires a special pass. Most of the campsites have fire pits stocked with woods, and if you cross paths with a bear, don’t be surprised. It’s happened to others.
Another important note is to be sure you refill your water at the Len Foote Hike Inn trailhead and at the creek about half a mile after that because you’ll have to go almost seven more miles from the creek before you have another source for water.
Read More: BELOVED SPRINGER MOUNTAIN TRAIL OFFERS ADVENTURE FOR EVERY AGE
PANTHER CREEK FALLS
If you’re looking for a difficult day hike, head to Panther Creek Falls. It’s one of North Georgia’s most popular waterfalls for good reason; it’s spectacular. But it’s a seven-mile adventure to get there. It’s in a lush forest section of the Chattahoochee National Forest near Tallulah Gorge, offering great views of the surrounding Cohutta Wilderness.
The waterfalls are multi-tiered and drop to a sandy beachy pool at the bottom. That’s a great spot for relaxing and enjoying the hard work it took to get there. You’ll see tons of campsites along the way and campers who are happy to spend more than a few hours in the area. The campsites are first come, first-served, so if you know it’s going to be a great weekend weather-wise, grab your spot early.
There’s been a lot of work done to the trail in recent years, and it was even closed for a while to hikers, but it’s now open again with bridge construction and trail repairs slated to be done through 2024. There are sketchy sections along the trail, including a spot about a quarter mile before you get to the lower waterfall, where trees have knocked out the safety cable. You can still get through, but need to be careful.
There’s even a spot where you need to make your way across a log or trek through water that’s anywhere from one to three feet deep, depending on where you cross. Other spots you have to cross are more like half a foot deep.
PROJECT CHIMPS HIKING TRAILS
Another fun place to hike is a relatively new one called Project Chimps Hiking Trails. And yes, there’s a chance you’ll see chimps, especially if you bring binoculars. If you don’t see them, you’ll definitely hear them.
The trails are kept up by volunteers who work hard to make it a great place to hike. These trails opened on Earth Day 2021 and you’ll see all kinds of wildlife along the path, along with the chimpanzees. Lots of people like to go birding and inspecting the various native plants you can see on the trails.
There’s also a cool Airbnb hiking experience you can plan with a trek and tour, along with a campsite where you can crash for the night. They do ask that you donate $2 per hiker when you get to the parking lot, and that money is used to help support the chimps. And they have a variety of trails to make sure people of all ages and abilities can enjoy them.
The Blue Trail takes you from the upper parking area to the lower and back and takes you along a babbling creek. The Nature Trail is an easy stroll with little elevation change. There are sturdy bridges and steps and it’s designed for all hiking levels. The Yellow Trail is designed to give you a good workout and you’ll encounter several switchbacks to make it easier than going straight up. You’ll get to the top of Paris Mountain this way and that’s where you’ll see into the Peachtree Habitat if the trees aren’t in bloom to block the view.
The White Trail travels the same path as Yellow in some spots, but it’s a bit more grueling and will require hiking in single file in some spots where there are narrow edges. You can also see into the habitat from there if trees aren’t in full bloom. For this one, they recommend using a hiking stick.
They also have hidden hearts placed along the Yellow and White Trails that they hope you spot along the way. Two are hidden each month, with a token for a surprise inside that you’ll redeem at the gift shop or gatehouse.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO BLUE RIDGE
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- BLUE RIDGE: 50+ Top Things To Do In Blue Ridge GA In 2023
- WINERIES: 7 Amazing Wineries In Blue Ridge GA (And Surrounding Areas)
- BLUE RIDGE WITH KIDS: 17+ Awesome Family Things To Do In Blue Ridge GA You Don’t Want To Miss
- HORSEBACK RIDING BLUE RIDGE GA: 9 Best Spots For Fun In The Mountains
WHERE TO STAY IN BLUE RIDGE GEORGIA
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