Camp in North Georgia’s Chattahoochee Forest at these fantastic, free car camping sites near Unicoi Gap and Chattahoochee Gap, just north of the town of Helen.
The Chattahoochee National Forest covers 750,000 acres of rolling forested land in North Georgia home to some of our favorite hiking, backpacking, and camping areas. We’ve found some of our favorite campsites in Georgia along the graveled Forest Road 44, just north of Helen. Simple, primitive, yet beautiful, these primitive campsites feature only a stone fire ring and graveled turnoffs for parking.
What these campsites lack in comfort features, they more than make up for in privacy and beauty: the sites are amply spaced from each other, and they’re nestled in mossy, scenic, shady swaths of hardwood forest laced with small streams, wildflowers, and wildlife. And, unlike the crowded nearby sites at the Upper Chattahoochee Campground, these sites are free. The sites are available first come, first camp – so arrive early on weekends when the weather forecast is looking bright, and make backup plans in the event they’re all taken. (The primitive Three Forks campsites on the Appalachian Trail are another fantastic option and another of our favorite go-to spots to car camp.)
Wondering what to pack for a great night under the stars? Our camping gear list features our favorite tents, sleeping bags, furniture, cookware, and campsite essentials.
The Appalachian Trail carves through the Chattahoochee National Forest to the north, climbing from the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River at Chattahoochee Gap, dipping through Unicoi Gap and climbing Rocky Mountain, and rolling through Indian Grave Gap to Tray Mountain.
Nearby, the Chattahoochee River flows south to the German-themed hamlet of Helen, one of North Georgia’s top tourist attractions (especially during Helen’s ultra-popular Oktoberfest). There’s also a plethora of hiking options nearby – in fact, some of North Georgia’s best trails.
Up for chasing waterfalls? Just north of the Appalachian Trail and Unicoi Gap, the High Shoals Falls Trail dives into a rhododendron-filled forest to visit the tumbling duo of waterfalls at Blue Hole Falls and High Shoals Falls. Or chase the dueling duo of waterfalls at Anna Ruby Falls, just north of Helen, on a short, paved, kid-friendly trail.
The campsites are accessible by following GA 75 north from Cleveland. You’ll pass Andrews Cove Campground on the right – and several miles later, a sign for the Upper Chattahoochee Campground marks a turnoff for Forest Road 44 (Chattahoochee River Road) on the left. Follow the gravel FR 44 to campsites. (View turn-by-turn driving directions and maps below.)
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.
Free. Campsite access is via gravel Forest Service roads.
34.790100, -83.762600 // N34 47.40600 W83 45.75600