Review of a 6 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail in Georgia to scenic vistas from the top of Blood Mountain.
The beauty of the trails at Blood Mountain deserve a visit in all seasons to appreciate the stunning views and excellent hiking along this section of the Appalachian Trail – though our favorite time of year for this hike is during autumn, when fall color explodes out of the leaves and makes this otherwise beautiful hike even prettier.
This segment of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia is just one we’ve covered in our in-depth review series. View our complete collection of Georgia Appalachian Trail hikes here. And for an alternate, slightly longer route to Blood Mountain, check out the 8.5 mile climb to the summit via Vogel State Park and the Appalachian Trail.
Depart the trailhead along the Byron Reese Trail, which begins to ascend as it rises to meet the Appalachian Trail. The trail winds next to a stream for much of the way, crossing the stream as it approaches the junction of the Appalachian Trail and Freeman Trails a little over a half mile from the trailhead. The vegetation is mostly rhododendron and hemlock along this stretch. The stream drops down into a small waterfall during your ascent just before the Byron Reese Trail intersects the other two trails.
At the intersection, turn right onto the Appalachian Trail. The trail travels over exposed rock and begins to open into clearings that allow stunning views of the Chattahoochee National Forest in all directions. As the trail climbs to the summit of Blood Mountain, the views increase dramatically in beauty – truly one of the most scenic sections of the Appalachian Trail that we’ve hiked in Georgia.
Approaching 2 miles from the trailhead, the Appalachian Trail levels off at the crest of Blood Mountain, marked by a USGS surveyor’s marker. At 4461 feet, this is the Appalachian Trail’s highest ascent in Georgia.
Leaving the summit, pass a Civilian Conservation Corps-built shelter for Appalachian Trail through hikers – and enjoy the views of vistas from the top of the rock outcrop that ascends next to the 70+ year-old shelter. The views here are not to be missed – and the rock provides a great resting or lunch stop during your hike (and the company of other hikers doing the same is usually present).
Begin your descent down the other side of Blood Mountain as you leave the shelter and outcrop. Continue hiking the Appalachian Trail as it crosses the Duncan Ridge Trail at 2.5 miles, and pas the spur loop (offering access to tent camping areas for Appalachian Trail through hikers) and again past the intersection of Slaughter Creek Trail as you approach 3 miles from the trailhead. The trail continues downhill to intersect the Freeman Trail on your left at 3.4 miles.
From here, you can turn around and return North on the Appalachian Trail to follow your footsteps over Blood Mountain back to the trailhead (a 6.8 mile out-and-back hike) – or, as we did, take the Freeman Trail back to the Byron Ridge Trail to return to the trailhead on a 5.8 mile loop.
The Freeman Trail follows a lower elevation than the Appalachian Trail, winding over a rocky trail along the face of Blood Mountain. Pass through several rocky streams and over numerous outcrops of rock as you make your way through to the intersection of this trail with the Byron Reese and Appalachian Trails.
The Byron Reese Trail will continue on back to the trailhead, where, after re-joining your car, you can leave the parking lot and head South back towards Atlanta on GA 129, stopping to enjoy a cold drink or to grab outdoor supplies at the Mountain Crossings outpost at Neels Gap where the Appalachian Trail crosses GA 129. This is a favorite stop of through hikers along the Appalachian Trail – and the first convenient opportunity to restock on supplies (or upgrade to lighter weight options) for hikers that begin their 2175 mile journey to Maine from Georgia at Springer Mountain.
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