Camping in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest

Camp these free primitive campsites in North Georgia's Chattahoochee Forest in North Georgia near Unicoi Gap north of Helen.

In North Georgia, the Chattahoochee National Forest covers 750,000 acres of rolling forested land home to some of our favorite hiking, backpacking and camping areas. We’ve found some of our favorite campsites in Georgia along the graveled Forest Road 44, just north of Helen. Simple, primitive, yet beautiful, these primitive campsites feature only a stone fire ring, and graveled turnoffs for parking.  

Camping in Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest: free primitive campsites near HelenAbove: our favorite, lightweight tent for backpacking and car camping alike: the REI Quarter Dome 3.

What the campsites lack in comfort features, they more than make up for in privacy and beauty: the sites are amply spaced from each other, and they’re nestled in mossy, scenic, shady swaths of hardwood forest laced with small streams, wildflowers and wildlife. And, unlike the crowded nearby sites at the Upper Chattahoochee Campground, these sites are free. The sites are available first come, first camp – so arrive early on weekends when the weather forecast is looking bright, and make back-up plans in case they’re all taken. (The primitive sites at Three Forks on the Appalachian Trail near Springer Mountain are another fantastic option, and another of our go-to favorite spots to car camp.)

Camping in Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest: free primitive campsites near HelenAbove: our must-pack favorite for the campsite? Our ENO DoubleNest Hammocks, the perfect way to soak up some relaxation and snooze away the day.

Camping in Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest: free primitive campsites near HelenAbove: relaxing by the campfire and hanging out at the campsite,in comfort: we pack our REI Flex Lite Chairs on nearly every trip.

The Appalachian Trail carves through the Chattahoochee National Forest to the north, climbing from the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River at Chattahoochee Gap, dipping through Unicoi Gap and climbing Rocky Mountain, and rolling through Indian Grave Gap to Tray Mountain.

Nearby, the Chattahoochee River flows south to the German-themed hamlet of Helen, one of North Georgia’s top tourist attractions (especially during Helen’s ultra-popular Oktoberfest).  There’s also a plethora of hiking options nearby – in fact, some of North Georgia’s best trails.

Up for chasing waterfalls? Just north of the Appalachian Trail and Unicoi Gap, the High Shoals Falls Trail dives into a rhododendron-filled forest to visit the tumbling duo of waterfalls at Blue Hole Falls and High Shoals Falls. Or chase the dueling duo of waterfalls at Anna Ruby Falls, just north of Helen, on a short, paved, kid-friendly trail.

Camping in Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest: free primitive campsites near Helen

The campsites are accessible by following GA 75 north from Cleveland.  You’ll pass Andrews Cove Campground on the right  – and several miles later, a sign for the Upper Chattahoochee Campground marks a turnoff for Forest Road 44 (Chattahoochee River Road) on the left.  Follow the gravel FR 44 to campsites. (View turn-by turn driving directions and maps below.)

 

Camping in Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest: Directions & Details

Parking

Free. Campsite access is via gravel Forest Service roads.

GPS Coordinates

34.790100, -83.762600
N34 47.40600 W83 45.75600

Driving Directions


Camping in Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest Map

Trail data and photos © Summit19 Studio LLC. This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
 
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.