Vogel State Park to Blood Mountain: Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Hike Georgia's Vogel State Park to stunningly beautiful vistas on the Blood Mountain summit via the Appalachian Trail.
Soaring and stunning, Blood Mountain is famous for its breathtaking, long-range views. The Blood Mountain summit peaks the highest elevation on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. And thanks to its popularity and beauty, it’s also one of the busiest trails in North Georgia during peak spring and fall hiking seasons.
A more serene hike to the Blood Mountain summit compared to more well-known routes, this hike treks to the peak via a longer (and considerably less crowded) 8.5 mile round-trip from Vogel State Park. The trailhead parking is ample (though fee-based). Several heavier-traveled Blood Mountain trails climb the Appalachian Trail via the Byron Reece Trail on a hike that’s often crowded and has severely limited (but free) trailhead parking.
Vogel State Park to Blood Mountain: the hike
This Blood Mountain hike begins at the Vogel State Park backcountry trailhead (view maps and driving directions). The hike trails the Backcountry Approach Trail for .4 mile, ascending elevation to meet the Bear Hair Gap Trail. The hike follows the Bear Hair Gap Trail, meandering through switchbacks in a steady rise through Blood Mountain’s lower elevation in Vogel State Park’s wooded, stream-filled forest. A side trail departs at 1.5 miles, traveling to an overlook with outstanding views of Lake Trahlyta to the northwest and the towering, majestic peak of Blood Mountain to the south.
The overlook view puts this hike’s elevation change in perspective: Lake Tahlyta, near the Vogel State Park trailhead, lies 800 feet far below, and Blood Mountan rises a majestic 1400 feet above. Yep – there’s plenty of climb left en route to the summit.
The hike departs the overlook, returning to the Bear Hair Gap Trail and crossing Wolf Branch Creek. The Bear Hair Gap Trail meets a signed junction at 2.5 miles, turning right to hike the Coosa Backcountry Trail in a continued ascent of Blood Mountain.
The Coosa Backcountry Trail intersects the Duncan Ridge Trail, the hike turning to follow the Duncan Ridge Trail in an ascent toward the Appalachian Trail. The hike continues to grab elevation as it rises steadily toward the summit, the surrounding forest changing from lower-elevation deciduous to higher-elevation wind-swept pine and rhododendron. The terrain becomes rocky, exposing vast stretches of granite outcrops and strewn boulders.
The Duncan Ridge Trail meets the Appalachian Trail at 4.25 miles, turning left to follow the AT’s iconic white, rectangular blazes, reaching the 4,458-foot Blood Mountain peak at 4.6 miles. Several scattered, lofty rock outcrops at the peak provide stunning, soaring views of the nearby, blue-hued mountain ridges in the distance.
Cherokee legend holds this summit as sacred – it’s nearby at Slaughter Creek that the Cherokee fought a bloody battle with the Creek tribe, giving Blood Mountain its name. And the beauty of the mountain – the views, the birds soaring above in thermal uplifts, the rugged, windswept beauty of the trees and vegetation – makes it easy to understand why the Cherokee held this place in such high esteem.
An Appalachian Trail shelter at the mountain’s summit primitive lodging for hikers on an epic, 2,000+ mile hike from Georgia’s Springer Mountain to Maine’s Mount Katahdin. The shelter was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and underwent a major renovation in 2012 by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club.
Departing the summit, the hike retraces the route on the Appalachian Trail, descending Blood Mountain to meet the intersection of the Duncan Ridge Trail at 5 miles. The hike turns left to follow the Duncan Ridge trail as it descends to the Coosa Backcountry Trail junction near Slaughter Gap in a descent to Vogel State Park. The hike passes the Bear Hair Gap Trail intersection after entering Vogel State Park, returning via the Coosa Backcountry Trail for a more direct route to the backcountry trailhead.
The trail descends through old growth pine forest and passes several impressive rock outcrops before crossing Wolf Creek at 7.35 miles. The trail turns right after crossing the creek, reaching the Backcountry Approach Trail at 8 miles. The hike completes at 8.5 miles, trailing the Backcountry Approach Trail to the trailhead.
Vogel State Park Camping
Stay the night – Vogel State Park offers great pioneer camping, campsites with electric hookups and cottages for overnight guests (fees & reservations required).
Or backpack this trail and camp at a backpacking campsite (free, first-come first-camp) on the Appalachian Trail near the Blood Mountain summit. Campfires are not permitted in the Blood Mountain Wilderness – and food must be stored in a bear-resistant canister. And please remember to leave no trace to preserve the wilderness beauty.