Georgia winter hikes: our favorite trails

Top Georgia winter hikes: our favorite trails

Our top Georgia winter hikes explore frozen waterfalls, frosty mountaintops and stunning views in one of our state's top hiking & backpacking seasons.

Don’t ditch your hiking boots when temperatures plummet and the foliage falls: you’ll miss out on one of Georgia’s best hiking seasons. Autumn’s deciduous leaf drop opens wide winter vistas on mountain summits otherwise cloaked in leaf cover. Icicles drip from the crest of waterfalls, creating light-reflecting prisms. And wintery fog and snow dustings turn familiar, favorite landscapes into new sensory experiences. Welcome to winter hiking in Georgia’s cool climate.

Winter Hiking in Georgia: Our Favorite Trails

Winter is a great season to break out the tent and head for adventure: cool nighttime temperatures make the season perfect for some snug winter camping or a frosty Georgia backpacking adventure. There’s nothing quite like waking up to a forest blanketed in a newly-fallen layer of snow, or downing a piping-hot cup of coffee at a frosty, icy campsite.

Georgia winter hikes: our top 12 favorite hikes

These are our favorite Georgia winter hikes, from the chilly altitudes of Georgia’s southern Appalachian mountains to its more temperate southern coastline. They’re all beautiful year-round, but arguably better in cooler temperatures: it’s a great time to hit Georgia’s usually-sweltering southern half, and in the north GA mountains, nothing beats the beauty of a frozen waterfall.

Backpack Georgia's Cumberland Island in winter, exploring Carnegie mansion ruins and sighting herds of wild horses

Cumberland Island in winter
2+ miles round trip

Backpack this wild yet serene barrier island off Georgia’s southern coast among Carnegie mansion ruins, wild horses and armadillo. Cumberland’s temperate climate and scarcity of insects in the winter make chillier months a great time to hike this exceptionally beautiful National Seashore.

Hike Georgia's Cloudland Canyon in winter to catch stunning panoramic views and visit a pair of frosty, icicle-draped waterfalls

Hiking Cloudland Canyon in winter
6.2 miles round trip

Hike a three-trail trio at Georgia’s Cloudland Canyon State Park to catch stunning wintertime views, icicle-covered canyon walls and frosty waterfalls. This 6-mile adventure catches stunning views from both of Cloudland’s towering canyon rims, and plunges into the canyon’s depths for up-close views of Cloudland’s stunning, frosty waterfalls.

Hike the Arkaquah Trail from Brasstown Bald, Georgia's highest-elevation mountain summit

Arkaquah Trail at Brasstown Bald
11 miles round trip

The Arkaquah Trail decends from the towering Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest-elevation mountain summit, on a view-packed ridge line. Though winter winds frequently whip the ridge, the forest’s fallen leaves offer better winter views than other seasons. You’ll visit ancient Native American petroglyph carvings at Track Rock Gap before starting the hike’s winter-worthy workout: a heart-racing climb back to the Brasstown summit.

Explore colorful sandstone canyon walls at Providence Canyon State Park: Georgia's best wintertime hikes

Providence Canyon State Park
4.8 miles round trip

Weave through meandering walls colorful sandstone at Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon”, Providence Canyon State Park. Set in a forest of pine, the wintertime views at Providence are spectacular, as the evergreen forest contrasts with the sculpted canyon walls in hues of orange, white, pink and deep purple.

Best kid-friendly Georgia winter hikes: explore the beautiful double waterfalls at Anna Ruby Falls in North Georgia

Anna Ruby Falls
.9 mile round trip

Hike to the stunning double cascades at Anna Ruby Falls on this paved, stroller-friendly trail near Unicoi State Park. At just under 1 mile, round trip, the trail is an especially beginner-friendly and kid-friendly adventure, and chilly winter mornings at the waterfall dodge the usual crowds.

Top Georgia hikes in winter: AT Approach Trail from Amicalola Falls to the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain

AT Approach Trail
15.6 miles round trip

Hike the Appalachian Approach Trail from the enormous Amicalola Falls waterfall to Springer Mountain, the Appalachian Trail’s southern end, where summit views are sweeping and wide in winter.

Hike to the summit of Georgia's Yonah Mountain to stunning summit views from lofty, sheer summit overlooks near the town of Helen

Yonah Mountain Trail
4.4 miles round trip

Frost-tipped mountaintops and icy valleys. Icicle-crusted boulders and a fragrant, windswept summit pine. While the hike to Yonah Mountain’s iconic summit is beautiful in any season, it’s especially adventure-worthy in winter – but be especially cautious in icy weather on Yonah’s extremely sudden and extremely steep dropoffs.

Georgia Winter Hiking: Blood Mountain Loop Appalachian Trail to Freeman Trail

Blood Mountain Loop Trail
6 mile loop

Hike the Appalachian Trail and two side trails on the Blood Mountain Loop Trail near Helen, Georgia. After catching summit views, the hike grabs solitude on the mountain’s lesser-traveled slope and hikes through a boulder-filled forest.

Great Georgia winter hikes: Beech Bottom Trail to Jacks River Falls in the rugged and wild Cohutta Wilderness

Jacks River Falls / Beech Bottom Trail
9 miles round trip

Hike the rugged, remote and wild Cohutta Wilderness in winter to the enormous Jacks River Falls, one of Georgia’s most beautiful waterfalls. The Beech Bottom Trail offers the most direct (and dryest) route to these thundering falls, skipping the Jacks River Trail’s infamous, wet river crossings.

Hike to stunning winter views from the Rabun Bald summit, the second-tallest mountain in Georgia, on the Bartram Trail

Rabun Bald via the Bartram Trail
3 miles round trip

Hike the Bartram Trail from Beegum Gap to Georgia’s second-highest elevation mountain. The views from the Rabun Bald summit are simply spectacular, stretching 360 degrees in all directions. Expect chilly mountaintop air in the winter, but be prepared to be wowed by one amazing view.

Top winter hikes in GA: Sweetwater Creek's White Trail loop explores the banks of an ultra-scenic, rocky, whitewater-filled creek

Sweetwater Creek White Trail
4.1 mile loop

Hike the White Trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park to visit Civil War-era mill ruins and rugged, whitewater and waterfall-filled terrain. The forest’s moss and fern provide evergreen color in winter – and early wildflowers emerge in February.

Hike the Springer Mountain Loop on the Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail in North Georgia to gorgeous winter and autumn views

Springer Mountain Loop Trail
4.75 miles round trip

Th3 Springer Mountain Loop combines the Appalachian Trail and Benton Mackaye Trail, catching stunning views from multiple overlooks. A light snow dusting, dripping icicles and wintery fog can make this hike extremely beautiful in winter.

What to Pack Hiking? Our hiking gear lists feature our favorite, trail-tested gear.

What to pack?
Our favorite hiking gear

Ready to hit the trail, but wondering what to pack? Our gear lists feature our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear for day hikes on local trails and in the Georgia backcountry.

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.