This Georgia Gateway to the Appalachian Trail is the Ultimate Weekend Getaway
Lace up your hiking boots for a scenic escape.
A few hours' drive from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta lies a medley of mountains and expansive vistas just waiting for a weekend trip. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests are not only home to the highest peak in the Peach State, but they're also known to outdoor enthusiasts as the entrance to the ultimate adventure: the Appalachian trail. Here, ridges, valleys, and waterfalls charm visitors year-round, offering hiking, biking, and camping unlike any other in the state. Some come for a few miles; others move up the trail for months to hike the duration. But as enchanting as the Appalachian trail is on its own, there's adventure to be had in every corner of this Georgia getaway. Whether you're camping or glamping, here are seven can't-miss spots in this treasured region of the North Georgia mountains.
Get a taste of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain.
You don't have to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail to get a taste of what makes this mountain range so iconic. For a day-long hiking adventure, set your sights on the Springer Mountain Loop trail. If you'd rather something shorter, a simple one-mile walk from the Springer Mountain parking lot will also take you to the peak.
Feel the mist from Georgia's tallest waterfall.
While you're by Springer Mountain, don't miss Amicalola Falls. The highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River and the tallest in the state, Amicalola drops 720 feet to put on a spectacular cliffside show. Hike the Amicalola Falls East Ridge Trail, an enjoyable, 2-mile there-and-back walk, to experience the crest of the falls before descending stairs alongside the water. The trail takes you to the bottom where you can take in the full view.
Take in the views from Georgia's highest peak.
On a clear day, you can see four states from Brasstown Bald. Sweeping 360-degree views await after a curvy, scenic drive and a short, paved path to the peak. A large observation deck offers visitors a comfortable spot to camp out for a sunset view.
Look out from the summit of Blood Mountain.
Day hikers will love the rocky slopes and clearings of Blood Mountain. Hop on the 6-mile Blood Mountain Loop to the summit to enjoy a full day among the hardwoods that even includes a stint on the Appalachian Trail. Visitors looking for a shorter taste of the mountain may enjoy Byron Reece Trail.
Take a trail to spectacular twin waterfalls.
Looking for a particularly picturesque water view? At Anna Ruby Falls, two creeks come together on the slopes of Tray Mountain to tumble down the rocky landscape in rare forked fashion. All that's required is a short, half-mile paved stroll to reach the viewing deck.
Decode the petroglyphs at Track Rock Gap.
Take a step back in time by visiting Track Rock Gap where six soapstone boulders preserve more than a hundred carvings created by Native Americans about a thousand years ago. From animals and bird tracks to handprints and footprints, the petroglyphs are one of the most significant archaeological sites in the South. Take a look at the detailed descriptions of the carvings from the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest online before you go to help identify the figures on each rock.
"Glamp" out in a remote forest retreat.
Though the countless campsites in the region are easily a hiker's haven, those who are less inclined to pitch a tent are guaranteed a little nature-filled R&R at Getaway. These tiny cabins nestled near your favorite North Georgia adventures offer floor-to-ceiling windows and queen size beds with a side of s'mores and foil packets cooked over an open flame.
For more information on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov.