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 a 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 it’s a beautiful hike in any season, it’s particularly stunning in the spring, when trillium and other native Georgia wildflowers fill the forest with blooms. Millions of blooming trillium flowers blanket the forest floor in late April to mid May, painting the trail’s sides in gorgeous springtime color.
Jarrard Trail, Appalachian Trail and Slaughter Creek Trail loop: the hike
The adventure begins at the rippling and reflective Lake Winfield Scott (view maps and driving directions), following Slaughter Creek south from the trailhead.
The route 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, following the road to reach the signed trailhead of the Jarrard Trail at .4 miles. The blue-blazed Jarrard Trail climbs elevation into the forest beside a small stream, Lance Branch on the left. Ferns and wildflowers flank the trail as it gains elevation.
The Jarrard Trail reaches Jarrard Gap and the Appalachian Trail at 1.15 miles. Following the iconic, white rectangular blazes of the Appalachian Trail, the route turns left, hiking northeast. 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 covering the rolling terrain in millions of blooms.
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 campsites sit left of the trail. The hike continues gaining elevation on the Appalachian Trail, reaching the Slaughter Creek Trail at 3 miles.
The hike turns left, following the Slaughter Creek Trail to the north. (Alaternately extend the hike’s mileage by 1.8 miles to grab some stunning vistas, by continuing .9 miles on the Appalachian Trail to the Blood Mountain summit. And, if you’re backpacking, there are additional campsites on the AT just .15 mile from the intersection with the Slaughter Creek Trail.)
The blue-blazed Slaughter Creek Trail descends elevation, crossing several small tributary creeks in a boulder-filled forest.
The trail dives through a canopy of mountain laurel and rhododendron, passing a backpacking campsite at 4 miles. Slaughter Creek audibly roars in the valley below the trail, cascading over out-of-site waterfalls and whitewater. The trail reaches the gravel Slaughter Creek Road at 5.4 miles and retraces the outbound hike to Lake Winfield Scott, completing the adventure.
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 to one of the campsites on the Appalachian Trail or Slaughter Creek Trail (free, first-come, first camp). Campfires are not allowed in the Blood Mountain Wilderness. Black bears are often active in the area, so store food and fragrant cosmetics out of reach in a bear canister.
Either way, please remember to pack out what you’ve packed in and leave no trace to help preserve the forest’s beauty.
More adventures in the Blood Mountain Wilderness
Check out our Blood Mountain hiking, backpacking and camping guide for more of our favorite day hikes and backpacking adventures in the Blood Mountain Wilderness.
Appalachian Trail, Jarrard Trail, and Slaughter Creek Trail: Directions & Details
$5, cash only, at the Lake Winfield Scott trailhead.
34.737426,-83.973118 // N34 44.246 W83 58.387