Appalachian Trail: hiking from Dicks Creek Gap, GA to Bly Gap, NC

Appalachian Trail: Dicks Creek Gap to Bly Gap, NC

Backpack the Appalachian Trail from Dicks Creek Gap to Georgia's northern border at Bly Gap. This hike trails 17.4 miles - a classic North Georgia backpacking adventure.

 

Hiking through Georgia’s rolling southern Appalachian Mountains, the mega-length Appalachian Trail catches stunning summit views from legendary mountains like Blood and Cowrock, and dives into beautiful creek valleys like Three Forks.

While this hike on the northernmost stretch of the Georgia Appalachian Trail lacks summit views, the hike’s 8.7-mile one-way stretch explores beautiful, fern-and-moss-filled forest. Numerous campsites dot the Appalachian Trail on this hike, making it an easy-access overnight backpacking trip (and spanning 17.4 out-and-back miles, the distance is a bit far for a day hike). Highlights on this adventure include the Plum Orchard Appalachian Trail shelter, crossing the North Carolina state line and a visit to a gnarled, old oak tree across the state line.

Scenic? Absolutely, and this AT stretch is completely worth the hike… just not in the ‘I can see forever from this summit’ kind of way.

A gnarled old oak tree shades the Appalachian Trail at Bly Gap, North Carolina

The Appalachian Trail at Dicks Creek Gap

This hike departs from Dicks Creek Gap on the paved Highway 76, (view maps and driving directions), hiking the Appalachian Trail northeast from the gap.

The Georgia Appalachian Trail at Dicks Creek Gap

The Appalachian Trail follows the meanders of a small stream, climbing elevation steadily and passing the first of many campsites at .35 mile. The AT descends briefly before beginning to climb again at .5 mile, ascending toward Little Bald Knob and passing a second campsite at 1 mile. The hike crests again at 1.35 miles before descending, following a creek on the left and passing yet another campsite at 1.45 miles.

The Appalachian Trail crosses through Cowart Gap at 1.75 miles, passing campsites at the gap before beginning a considerable, unwavering climb. The trail reaches Buzzard Knob at 3 miles after passing a small rock outcrop on trail right, rolling elevation through dense groves of rhododendron before reaching Plum Orchard Gap at 4.35 miles.

The Appalachian Trail shelter at Plum Orchard Gap in Georgia

The Appalachian Trail at Plum Orchard Gap

At Plum Orchard Gap, a blue-blazed side trail departs trail right, hiking .2 mile east to the Plum Orchard Gap shelter and Plum Orchard Creek. Numerous campsites surround the Appalachian Trail at Plum Orchard Gap and dot the area around the gap’s AT shelter.

Departing the gap, the Appalachian Trail climbs elevation to crest the curiously-named As Knob, passing through a forest filled with fern and gnarled mountain laurel in a descent to Blue Ridge Gap. Hiking through Blue Ridge Gap, the AT crosses a gravel road and ascends elevation, passing two off-trail campsites and a trickling spring near Rich Cove Gap at 6.5 miles.

The Appalachian Trail rolls elevation over the next two miles, steadily rising toward the Georgia border. A large, mossy, gray rock outcrop towers on the left at 8.25 miles just before the AT crosses the Georgia – North Carolina state line at 8.5 miles.

The Appalachian Trail crosses the Georgia - North Carolina border near Bly Gap

Now in North Carolina, the AT continues to climb towards Bly Gap. The trail passes a campsite on the right before arcing northeast, reaching Bly Gap and a gnarled, old oak tree at 8.7 miles. Just past the tree, a small clearing provides limited views of the distant rolling peaks of the Nantahala National Forest. From here, the Appalachian Trail continues its northbound journey through North Carolina, climbing through dense rhododendron thickets to the summit of Standing Indian Mountain, rolling through Carter Gap near the tumbling waterfall at Big Laurel Falls, and climbing to exceptional, 360-degree panoramic views at Albert Mountain, catching views from the mountain’s historic steel fire lookout tower.

From here, the hike turns to retrace its outbound steps on the Appalachian Trail, reaching Dicks Creek Gap at 17.4 miles.

Appalachian Trail: Dicks Creek Gap to Bly Gap, NC

Dicks Creek Gap to Bly Gap: Camping

Campsites dot the Appalachian Trail’s length from Dicks Creek Gap to Bly Gap, and the trail’s out-and-back length makes a great weekend backpacking trip. See the trail map below for campsite locations.

Backpacking campsites on the Appalachian Trail near Bly Gap: relaxing in an ENO hammock

Our favorite site? The campsites near Rich Cove Gap, at 6.5 miles outbound from Dicks Creek Gap, are large, shady, and accommodate several tents. And there’s a nearby spring, and ample room to hang a few ENO hammocks for some incredible post-hike relaxation.

Appalachian Trail: Dicks Creek Gap to Bly Gap: Directions & Details

Parking

Free parking is available at the Dicks Creek Gap trailhead.

Please Remember

Always leave no trace and follow these trail etiquette tips.

GPS Coordinates

34.912300, -83.618717     //     N34 54.738 W83 37.123

Driving Directions


Elevation Profile

Appalachian Trail: Dicks Creek Gap to Bly Gap Elevation Profile

Appalachian Trail: Dicks Creek Gap to Bly Gap 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.

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