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Top Georgia trails & how-to

Georgia Appalachian Trail: great Georgia hikes under 6 miles

Hike these classic Georgia Appalachian Trail hikes to stunning summit views, a gorgeous waterfall and through beautiful North Georgia forest. All under six miles, they’re a great intro to Georgia’s stretch of the epic-length AT.

The Appalachian Trail travels an epic, long-distance journey to Maine, stretching over 75 miles from Springer Mountain through the North Georgia wilderness. Throughout its Georgia stretch, the AT explores some of the state’s most beautiful mountain summits, forests and shady creek valleys, and it traces a well-loved and well-traveled trail marked by iconic white trail blazes.

Options abound for a long-distance day hike or multi-day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. But some of our state’s shorter-length AT hikes score some incredible views that rival the best long-distance treks and make a great introduction to the trail. We’ve rounded up our favorite under-six-mile segments of the AT in Georgia, including a few fantastic two-milers that are relatively beginner-friendly.

Hike these classic Georgia Appalachian Trail hikes to stunning summit views, a gorgeous waterfall and through beautiful North Georgia forest. All under six miles, they’re a great intro to Georgia's stretch of the epic-length AT. #hiking #backpacking #camping #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Our favorite Georgia Appalachian Trail hikes under six miles

Explore the AT on these seven beautiful day hikes in North Georgia. They’re relatively short in length, but pack a ton of North Georgia scenic beauty into a short stretch. They’re not easy; the Appalachian Trail rolls elevation over the Appalachian Mountains, hence the name. But these day hikes make a great short-distance workout, and reward the effort with a beautiful waterfall, mountain summit view, or trek through a wildflower-filled forest.

Wherever your adventures take you, please remember, as always, to pack out everything you pack in and to leave no trace to help keep Georgia beautiful.

  • Hike to Long Creek Falls on the Appalachian Trail, a beginner-friendly hike beginning at Three Forks near Ellijay, Georgia

    Three Forks to Long Creek Falls

    1.9 miles

    Towering hemlock trees shade a rolling valley covered in rhododendron at Three Forks, just miles from the AT’s end at Springer Mountain. Hike the Appalachian Trail from the trout-stream-filled Three Forks valley to a gorgeous, spilling waterfall. Long Creek Falls cascades over a large rock outcrop and tumbles over a boulder-filled creek bed in a quiet, shady forest. It’s a great first hike on the AT, and one of our all-time favorites.

  • Hike the Appalachian Trail to Springer Mountain, the trail's southernmost end in Georgia

    Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain

    2 miles

    Hike to the Springer Mountain summit to visit the southernmost blaze of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and catch a beautiful summit view. This moderately difficult two-miler climbs elevation from the Springer Mountain trailhead, passing a side trail to an AT shelter before summiting Springer. At the summit, views of the surrounding, rolling Appalachian Mountains extend in the distance, seen from a broad, bald rock outcrop.

  • Hike the Appalachian Trail to stunning views from Preachers Rock and Woody Gap on a two-mile round trip adventure in North Georgia

    Appalachian Trail to Preachers Rock

    2 miles

    This moderate two-miler catches stunning sunrise views from the trailhead at Woody Gap, and then follows the Appalachian Trail northbound to Big Cedar Mountain. A wide, sun-drenched rock outcrop near the mountain’s summit offers expansive views of nearby Dahlonega and Dockery Lake. The vistas from the summit are easily some of the best on the AT in our state.

  • Hike the Appalachian Trail at Tensatee Gap to stunning North Georgia views on the summit of Cowrock Mountain

    Tesnatee Gap to Cowrock Mountain

    2.25 miles

    Hike just over two miles, roundtrip, climbing from Tensatee Gap to gorgeous views on a rocky summit. This hike climbs through a rocky, sun-dappled, fern-filled forest to summit the oddly-named Cowrock Mountain, where lofty views abound of the surrounding rolling, blue-green-hued mountains. The smooth, wide, sun-drenched summit outcrop is perfect for a mid-hike picnic. And that view! It’s unforgettable.

  • Hike to stunning views at Blood Mountain, the highest summit on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

    Blood Mountain on the AT and Byron Reece Trail

    4.3 miles

    Perhaps the AT’s most-loved stretch in Georgia, this hike follows the Byron Reece Trail at Neels Gap to the AT, and then climbs the tallest peak on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Blood Mountain. At the summit, a tall rock outcrop beside the historic Blood Mountain shelter offers stunning views and a great mid-hike resting spot. Hoping for some mountaintop serenity? Hike Blood Mountain in the early morning or on weekdays to beat the crowds.

  • Hike to stunning Tray Mountain summit views on the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia

    Appalachian Trail to Tray Mountain

    5.25 miles

    This just-over-five-miler treks the AT through beautiful forest to summit Tray Mountain, catching simply stunning views. From the Indian Grave Gap trailhead, the hike dives into a shady tunnel of twisted rhododendron and mountain laurel, trekking through a forest carpeted by large swathes of vibrant green moss. The hike makes a nearly unrelenting climb to the Tray Mountain summit, and rewards with views of Lake Hiwassee on the far horizon.

  • Hike the Jarrard Trail from Lake Winfield Scott, climbing to the Appalachain Trail in North Georgia's ultra-scenic Blood Mountain Wilderness

    Slaughter Mountain and Lake Winfield Scott Loop

    5.6 miles

    While this three-trail trio lacks a soaring mountain summit view or a cascading waterfall, it still abounds in natural beauty, especially in springtime, when thousands of native Georgia wildflowers blanket the AT at Jarrard Gap. Hike the Jarrard Trail from the shores of the glassy Lake Winfield Scott to Jarrard Gap, follow the AT northeast to Blood Mountain’s lower elevations, and then hike the Slaughter Creek Trail through a creek-filled valley beneath Slaughter Mountain to return to the Lake Winfield Scott trailhead.

  • Hiking gear list: our favorite backpacks and trail essentials

    Our favorite hiking gear

    What to pack for an Appalachian Trail adventure in Georgia?

    Ready to hit the trail, but wondering what to pack? Our hiking gear list features our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear for day hikes on local trails and in the Georgia backcountry. We print and stitch our Atlanta Trails shirts and hats locally in Atlanta and Asheville, and they’re our favorite for trail adventures all over the South. And no matter what you pack in, pack it all back out. Please leave no trace and help preserve Georgia’s beauty.

Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.

Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.

Eric Champlin is a creative director and photographer who loves to explore southeast. He's the co-owner of Trailful Outdoor Co, a locally-owned hiking outfitter shop in Hiawassee in the Georgia mountains near the Appalachian Trail. He’s also the co-founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.