Appalachian Trail at Woody Gap: hiking to the Gooch Mountain Shelter in North Georgia

Appalachian Tail: Woody Gap to Ramrock Mountain

Hike the Appalachian Trail south from Woody Gap to beautiful views at Ramrock Mountain views, campsites at Gooch Gap, and the Gooch Mountain Shelter.

This Appalachian Trail hike treks from Woody Gap to Ramrock Mountain, Gooch Gap and the Gooch Mountain AT shelter. It’s a fantastic, popular day hike or backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. Popular for its stunning summit views and excellent campsites, the trail grabs views from Woody Gap before the hike even begins. Hiking south on the Appalachian Trail from Woody Gap, the trails to stunning views at Ramrock Mountain and treks through an old growth forest near Gooch Gap before reaching the Gooch Mountain Shelter.

Hike the Appalachian Trail to stunning views at Woody Gap in North Georgia

Woody Gap, located on the Appalachian Trail north of Dahlonega and just south of Suches, is one of Georgia’s most popular AT trailheads. With parking on both sides of the paved highway (view maps and driving directions), Woody Gap offers hikers and backpackers easy access to the AT. From Woody Gap, the Appalachian Trail hikes north to beautiful views at Big Cedar Mountain before trailing northeast to Jarrard Gap and Blood Mountain. This hike departs south from Woody Gap on the Appalachian Trail, catching views from a clearing at the trailhead.

Appalachian Trail south from Woody Gap: the hike

Hiking south from Woody Gap, the Appalachian Trail rolls elevation, trailing southwest around Black Mountain’s circumference. Just-out-of-sight views extend trail left between trees. The trail winds through a rocky, ferny, outcrop and boulder-filled forest.

The Appalachian Trail hikes west from Woody Gap, skirting the Black Mountain summit

The trail descends elevation, departing Black Mountain and leaving the Woody Gap highway sounds in the distance. The Appalachian Trail levels briefly at 1.3 miles before beginning a steady climb.

The trail ascends Ramrock Mountain, climbing elevation on boulders and rough-hewn stone stairs. The Appalachian Trail reaches the Ramrock Mountain summit at 1.5 miles, catching stunning views from a large rock outcrop at the summit.

The Appalachian Trail hikes to the Ramrock Mountain summit, with overlook views and campsites

North of the Ramrock Mountain overlook, there’s a just-off-trail campsite with a stone fire ring. The Ramrock Mountain campsite is one of our favorites on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, offering stunning sunrise views on clear mornings. (Our other favorite? The summit campsite at Wolf Laurel Top north of Neels Gap and Blood Mountain.)

Departing the summit, the Appalachian Trail dives elevation to Jacks Gap, reaching the gap at 1.65 miles before climbing to a second Ramrock Mountain peak. The trail climbs to reach the second Ramrock Mountain summit at 1.9 miles – and as with the first, it’s complete with an outcrop overlook and summit campsite.

The Appalachian Trail arcs southwest as it departs Ramrock Mountain, rolling elevation in a descent toward Gooch Gap under a dense canopy of mountain laurel. The forest is rich and vibrantly green, filled with trailing ivy, fern and seasonal wildflowers.

The Appalachian Trail hikes through a fern and vine-filled forest near Gooch Gap

Gooch Gap Campsites

The Appalachian Trail reaches Gooch Gap at 3.7 miles. The Gooch Gap camping options are plentiful, with Gooch Gap campsites flanking both sides of the trail over a quarter mile stretch. A blue-blazed side trail hikes .15 mile south from Gooch Gap to a water source, Walden Creek.

Departing Gooch Gap, the Appalachian Trail crosses the gravel Cooper Gap road. The trail crosses a stream at 4 miles before gaining elevation through an old-growth forest of large-trunked oak and tulip trees. The hike descends, passing a campsite at 4.8 miles before diving through a grove of young, spindly-trunked trees.

The Gooch Gap shelter and campsites on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

Gooch Mountain Shelter

A blue-blazed side trail departs the Appalachian Trail at 5.2 miles, hiking northwest toward the Gooch Mountain Shelter and campsites. The tin-roofed Gooch Mountain Shelter was constructed in 2001 – one of the newest Appalachian Trail shelters on its 2000+ mile stretch from Georgia to Maine.

The Gooch Mountain campsites are located west of the shelter, accessible by a short, diverging trail. Two trails depart north from the shelter, one to a water source and the other to a privy.

The hike leaves the Gooch Mountain shelter, turning to retrace the outbound hike on the Appalachian Trail. The hike treks through Gooch Gap, rises elevation to Ramrock Mountain and skirts the peak of Black Mountain to return to Woody Gap. The hike reaches the Woody Gap trailhead at 10.8 miles, having gained and lost over 2,000 feet elevation – a total elevation change of over 4,000 feet.

Woody Gap to Gooch Gap: backpacking and camping

The Woody Gap to Gooch Mountain stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia offers some great, free campsites for solo campers or small groups of backpackers. The sites are first-come, first-camp – so arrive early for the best choice of campsites. Our favorite? The two campsites at Ramrock Mountain’s double peaks are prime, with summit views. The Gooch Gap campsites and Gooch Mountain shelter campsites are great for their close access to water – though also spaced close together. Check out the trail map at the bottom of this page for campsite locations.

Appalachian Trail: Woody Gap to Ramrock Mountain: Directions & Details

Parking

Free parking is available at the Woody Gap trailhead.

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a cell phone signal to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

GPS Coordinates

34.677333, -84.000117     //     N34 40.640 W84 00.007

Driving Directions


Elevation Profile

Appalachian Trail: Woody Gap to Ramrock Mountain Elevation Profile

Appalachian Trail: Woody Gap to Ramrock Mountain Map

Trail data and photos © Summit19 Studio LLC. This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
 
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.