The Cohutta and Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia include some of the best trails on the East Coast for hiking and certainly of Georgia. There are many different experiences you can have on the vast array of hiking trails in Georgia. For example, in the pages to follow you will find hikes that take you deep into the wilderness of the Cohutta national forest, gently touched by man, and you will also be taken to iconic and famous marvels of mother nature. For the benefit of safety, we have included a guide for difficulty ratings on the trails. For those of us that come to the mountains for getaways with nature or a short weekend trip away from the city, stick to the beginner and intermediate trails. However, if you are looking for a challenge you should consider the more technical trails.
Beauty can be found everywhere in North Georgia but in these hills what you put in is what you get out.
Hiking (Blueridge Mountains)
The beautiful thing about being in Georgia, especially the North Georgia mountains, is the hiking. Throughout the state, hiking is a favorite past time. With many different trails, mountains, and towns to see it can be hard to narrow down what the best hiking trails in Georgia might be. Whether you are looking for a trail gently touched by man or some of the iconic and popular trails, this guide has it all. All of the selected hikes are GPS ready, meaning you can plug in the name of the trail to your GPS and it will take you right to it!
1. Amicalola Falls
Difficulty level: Intermediate: 2.5-mile loop: 20 miles from downtown Ellijay
Amicalola Falls boasts a nearly 830-acre spread and is breathtakingly beautiful. To enter the park you will need $5 and trust me when I say for what your about to see and feel that is one heck of a bargain. Once you enter the park, continue along the main road for about a half mile until you get to the welcome center where you park the car and prepare to enjoy everything Amicolola has to offer. Once parked, walk through the welcome center and in the back you will find the head of the trail for Amicalola falls. It's a mildly challenging incline for about 2 miles up to the top of the falls. Once at the top you will be mesmerized by the scenic views of the Appalachian mountains of North Georgia and the immense beauty and power of the falls themselves. Sitting atop the falls you can look nearly straight down to the reflecting pool below. There is an awesome little park/rest area at the top of the falls that is perfect for a picnic to regroup and energize for the quad-burning descent down the stairs of the falls. As you descend the stairs make sure you stop on the landings for photo ops and breathtaking views of the surrounding area!
2. Brawley Mountain Fire tower
Difficulty level: Intermediate: 6 Mile loop: 32 miles from downtown Ellijay
Many moons ago fire towers could be spotted along Georgia’s tallest peaks where Forest Service workers would keep a vigilant watch over the hills in case of a wildfire. In today’s world with satellite imagery, GPS and other high-end technology you’d be lucky to find yourself near a fire tower as they are no longer needed. However, on Brawley Mountain, you can still hike to the tower though it has been modified for modern use. The hike up toward the tower will pass you by a rich cove forest which is covered with local wildflowers during the spring bloom. Once you reach the top of Brawley Mountain you will have views of the surrounding mountains. It is a perfect place to grab a quick snack or refreshment before your descent back down.
3. Deadennen Mountain
Difficulty level: Intermediate: 3.4 miles out and back: 28 miles from downtown Ellijay
Deadennen mountain trail is conveniently off the same trail as Brawley Mountain. Just go due East on the Benton MacKaye trail instead of West. This trail hosts incredible views in the fall with the leaves changing. In winter when the leaves are gone the surrounding countryside is beautiful. However, should you decide to do this hike when the trees are leafed out during the late spring and summer you can spot an exotic wildflower called a 'Lady Slipper'.
Fun fact: This flower loves the acidic soil that forms from the acid left behind from pine needles so look for it at the base or around the base of the white pines along the trail!
4. Wallalah Mountain
Difficulty level Intermediate: 3.4 miles out and back: 34 miles from downtown Ellijay.
The Wallalah Mountain trail is the perfect trail to hike when your craving beautiful scenery and mountainside views without having to drive all over the countryside and going through rigorous climbs to reach those views. The drive up to the trail along Georgia 60 is a beautiful curvy scenic route and the hike itself is steep enough to get the blood flowing and the heart pumping but doesn’t leave you gassed by the end. Keep an eye out when you reach the 1.5-mile mark there is a rock outcrop where a fantastic open view reveals mountainsides and the Cooper Creek valley where you will see farmland laying quietly in the shadows of the mountains.
5. Long Creek Falls
Difficulty level intermediate: 4.6 miles out and back: 26 miles from downtown Ellijay.
There are not many places in the hills of North Georgia where you can take a break or sit and eat lunch next to a big waterfall like Long Creek Falls. The falls are just north of Three Forks and as many of the Appalachian trail hikers know its view is pretty much unbeatable. The hike itself starts at Three Forks and as you make your way up the trail the first mile will be along the Creek itself. The good news is you will encounter two more waterfalls along the way to Long Creek Falls. It”s mesmerizing when you hear the sound of the water crashing through the surrounding rhododendron. After you get to the falls stop and take it all in but don’t forget to forge on through the Benton MacKaye trail where there is an exciting climb up to your final destination. The reward is a meadow view high atop the falls. Looking back at Springer Mountain from the meadow is also an exceptional reward for all your hard work.
6. Springer Mountain Loop
Difficulty level Intermediate-Advanced : 5.1-mile loop: 25 miles from downtown Ellijay.
Appalachian Trail hikers know well that there are two mountains more important than others. Those mountains are Mt. Katahdin located near the end of the trail in Maine and our very own Springer Mountain near the beginning of the trail here in Georgia. Springer Mountain, like most incredibly beautiful places in nature, isn’t drivable (you are going to have to use your feet). The reward is certainly worth the work. To begin this hike, you will start on the Benton MacKaye Trail. On your way up to Springer Mountain, you’ll cross over the top of Ball Mountain with its breathtaking clifftop views. Shortly after your cross over Ball Mountain, you get on the Appalachian Trail and begin the climb to the very top. Once you reach the top you will have a rock outcrop that has several plaques worth reading to learn more about the history of the location. Also, there is a hiker's log in the sleeping shelter worth a peek!
Hiking (Cohutta Mountains)
1. Emery Creek
Difficulty Level Intermediate: 6.8 Miles out and back: 15 miles from downtown Ellijay
Emery Creek will test you a little bit and if you don’t like having wet feet this isn’t the hike for you. Getting up to the falls that grace Emery Creek requires you to cross the stream 8 times getting up and of course 8 more times coming back down. We recommend you wear a pair of shoes you don’t mind getting banged up or be prepared with the proper hiking boots for the occasion. It's certainly worth the travel as you will pass a total of five beautiful waterfalls along the way!
2. Fowler Mountain
Difficulty level advanced: 12.2 miles out and back: 10 miles from downtown Ellijay.
Fowler Mountain is not for the faint of heart and should be taken seriously. This hike will take your body through an all-day gauntlet of long and strenuous, steep pitched climbs which ultimately will reward you with some of the best views Georgia has to offer. The awesome thing about this hike is your destination is a lonesome peak that is located along the Tennessee divide and also bridges the Cohuttas and the Blue Ridge Mountains together, making the views stunning especially in the fall and winter months when there are no more leaves on the trees. Be prepared for this hike; hydration and energy are needed!
3. Grassy Mountain Tower
Difficulty level intermediate: out and back: 22 miles from downtown Ellijay.
The lookout towers scattered through the mountains of North Georgia are few and far between these days. With that being said, as a hiker, anytime you get a chance to visit one, DO IT! The cool thing about the Grassy Mountain Tower is once you get there you can actually climb up to the first landing. That is where the views will open up and you will have a 360-degree jaw-dropping panorama. Take note, the hidden treasure on this hike is the Songbird Trail which outlines a small beaver pond that hosts an array of local bird species.
4. Jacks River Falls
Difficulty level intermediate: 9 miles out and back: 53 miles from downtown Ellijay.
The Jacks River Falls are an absolute show stopper and possibly the best-known site in the Cohutta wilderness. Whether you’re a local Georgian or visiting for the scenery it’s a must see and more than worth the drive to get there. This hike begins in Tennessee despite the fact that the Jacks River Falls are in Georgia. The falls themselves are incredibly beautiful, enormous in size and remote which is probably why it gets so many visitors. You will know you’re in the right place if the roar of the falls continues to get louder with every step!