Appalachian Trail, Jarrard Trail, and Slaughter Creek Trail Loop
Hike this 5.6 mile loop on the Appalachian Trail, Slaughter Creek Trail and Jarrard Trail near Blood Mountain through a wildflower-filled forest.
This loop trail departs the serene waters of Lake Winfield Scott to hike the Blood Mountain Wilderness, one of Georgia’s most beautiful forests. The moderately difficult hike treks three trails on it’s 5.7 mile loop: the Jarrard Trail to Jarrard Gap, the Appalachian Trail to Blood Mountain’s southern elevations, and the Slaughter Creek Trail through a creek-filled valley.
And though beautiful in any season, the trail is stunning in spring, when trillium and other native Georgia wildflowers fill the forest with blooms. Thousands of blooming trillium flowers blanket the hike’s elevations in late April to mid May, carpeting the forest floor with color.
Appalachian Trail, Jarrard Trail, and Slaughter Creek Trail loop: the hike
The hike departs the rippling, reflective waters of Lake Winfield Scott (view maps and driving directions), trailing Slaughter Creek south from the trailhead near the lake.
The hike follows the blue-blazed Slaughter Creek Trail, crossing the creek over a wooden bridge before reaching Slaughter Creek Road at .25 mile. The hike turns right on the gravel road, hiking the road to the signed Jarrard Trail trailhead at .4 miles. The blue-blazed Jarrard Trail climbs elevation into the forest beside a small stream, Lance Branch, on trail left. Fern and wildflowers fill the trail’s sides as it grabs elevation, rising toward the Appalachian Trail.
The Jarrard Trail reaches the Appalachian Trail at 1.15 miles. Following the iconic, white rectangular blazes of the Appalachian Trail, the hike turns left, trailing northeast and ascending elevation toward Blood Mountain. Views of the rolling, neighboring ridges emerge between trees as the Appalachian Trail reaches the Gaddis Mountain summit at 1.55 miles. Wildflowers are prolific here in spring, with trillium and other native flowers carpeting the forest floor over the rolling terrain.
The Appalachian Trail rolls elevation over the next mile, descending several gaps and climbing several summits before reaching a junction with the Freeman Trail, a popular loop route around Blood Mountain, at 2.6 miles. Several level backpacking camp sites sit left of the trail. The hike continues gaining elevation on the Appalachian Trail, reaching the Slaughter Creek Trail at 3 miles.
The 5.7 mile loop turns left, hiking the Slaughter Creek Trail to the north. (Or alternately extend the hike’s mileage by 1.8 miles, and grab some stunning vistas, by continuing .9 miles on the Appalachian Trail to the Blood Mountain summit. And there are additional campsites on the AT just .15 mile from the Slaughter Creek trail junction.)
The blue-blazed Slaughter Creek Trail descends elevation, crossing several small Slaughter Creek tributaries in a boulder-filled forest.
The Slaughter Creek Trail dives through a canopy of mountain laurel and rhododendron, passing a backpacking camp site at 4 miles. Slaughter Creek audibly roars in the valley below the trail, cascading over waterfalls just out of sight from the trail. The trail crosses the gravel Slaughter Creek Road at 5.4 miles before returning to Lake Winfield Scott, completing the hike at 5.7 miles.
Want to stay the night? Camp at the popular, and often busy, Lake Winfield Scott campground (fees – view reservation info).
Or grab some solitude and backpack in to one of the camp sites on the Appalachian Trail or Slaughter Creek Trail (free, first-come, first camp). Camp fires are not permitted in the Blood Mountain Wilderness, and black bear are common – store food and fragrant cosmetics out of reach in a bear canister.
Either way, remember to pack out what you’ve packed in and leave no trace.
More adventure in the Blood Mountain area
Want to see more of the mountain? Check out our Blood Mountain hiking, backpacking and camping guide for additional trails and campsites in the Blood Mountain Wilderness.