Hike to stunning views from Tray Mountain on this classic Georgia stretch of the Appalachian Trail, hiking from Indian Grave Gap through a lush, mossy forest filled with rhododendron.

georgia hiking trails: 4-6 miles 5 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderate to difficultmore
difficult
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:Appalachian Trail near Helen, Georgia

OFFICIAL MAP: Appalachian Trail, Trails Illustrated Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)

RATED: 4.6/5 (7 reviews)

This hike scales to the summit of Tray Mountain, and it’s one of the most popular on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. For a good reason, too: the views from the mountain’s summit are simply stunning. This 5-mile roundtrip route explores a beautiful valley terrain at Indian Grave Gap before climbing a scenic ridgeline to the mountain’s summit.

Tray Mountain: hiking the Appalachian Trail from Indian Grave Gap in Georgia

It’s an adventure chock-full of classic North Georgia mountain beauty. The hike tunnels through dense, gnarly-branched canopies of mountain laurel and rhododendron, offering copious blooms in late spring and early summer. Mosses and ferns blanket the forest floor in this shady, sun-dappled wilderness. On the Tray Mountain summit, abundant views spread to the north and south, including Lake Chatuge, the nearby Anna Ruby Falls waterfall valley, and the iconic Yonah Mountain. All-around, it’s a great, classic hike on a beautiful stretch of the AT in Georgia.

Hike to stunning views from Tray Mountain on this classic Georgia stretch of the Appalachian Trail,hiking from Indian Grave Gap through a lush, mossy forest filled with rhododendron. #hiking #trailrunning #camping #backpacking #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Tray Mountain from Indian Grave Gap: the hike

The hike departs a gravel parking area (view maps and driving directions), hiking the white-blazed Appalachian Trail eastbound near the base of Rocky Mountain. The trail ascends through a forest filled with gnarled and twisted rhododendron and mountain laurel. The evergreen canopy shades the forest floor, helping shade-loving vibrant green mosses and ferns to thrive in the dappled sunlight.

The hike crosses a gravel road at just under three-quarters of a mile and ascends a wooden staircase. The route follows the AT’s rectangular white trail blazes and climbs through a dense grove of mountain laurel. The trail reaches a large, grassy campsite at 1 mile, where a blue-blazed side trail departs to the left. (The side trail travels to High Shoals Creek, the same creek that, several miles to the north, drops in the beautiful, tall cascades of the High Shoals Falls waterfall.)

Tray Mountain: hike the Appalachian Trail through tunnels of rhododendron and mountain laurel from Indian Grave Gap

The A.T. ascends a ridge. The hike steadily gains elevation, trailing through a sun-dappled grove of hardwoods filled with wildflowers in warm-weather months. The trail meets a campsite and an overlook at 1.5 miles; a steep ledge provides an excellent view of Tray Mountain’s peak to the left and offers a preview of the climb left on the trek to the summit.

The hike reaches Tray Gap at 1.7 miles, crossing a gravel road and entering the Tray Mountain Wilderness.

Tray Mountain: hike the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia

The trail begins a considerably steeper ascent, meandering through switchbacks on a noticeably steeper incline on the mountain’s lower elevations. The AT reaches the Tray Mountain summit at 2.5 miles, a 1250-foot climb from Indian Grave Gap. The wind-swept trees hugging the mountain’s high elevation disperse at the peak, offering views of sweeping vistas on both sides of the trail.

Large slabs of granite angle skyward at the summit, providing outstanding overlooks of the surrounding forest valley and the distant peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Chattahoochee National Forest. The mountain’s views are particularly impressive during the crisp fall and winter months.

Tray Mountain: hike the Appalachian Trail to gorgeous views of North Georgia's wilderness

Departing the summit, the hike doubles back to the trailhead, retracing the outbound route on the AT back to Indian Grave Gap. The return hike, almost entirely downhill, reaches the trailhead at 5 miles, completing the adventure.



After the Adventure


After exploring the mountaintop and this scenic section of the Appalachian Trail, head into nearby Hiawassee and say hello to the Atlanta Trails crew at our hiking outfitter shop, Trailful Outdoor Co. We’ve got tons of free info the help you find your next North Georgia adventure. We also stock a large selection of our favorite hiking and backpacking gear and apparel, including KUHL, Kelty, ENO, Osprey, as well as our line of Atlanta Trails apparel, books, and locally-made gifts and goods.

More Appalachian Trail adventures at Indian Grave Gap

Have energy and daylight left to burn? Hike the AT westbound from this same trailhead to scale the Rocky Mountain summit to Unicoi Gap.


 
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.

Tray Mountain: Appalachian Trail from Indian Grave Gap Map, Directions & Details

This map shows our approximate route while exploring this trail, but does not replace an official trail map. Please refer to the official trail map for the most current and accurate route.

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Trail Rating

RATED: 4.6/5 (7 reviews)

Updates

Did you have trouble accessing the trail, or notice some recent trail updates or storm damage? We'd love to know! Contact us here, and thanks for helping us keep this site updated!

Driving Directions



Parking

Free parking is available at the Indian Grave Gap trailhead. Trailhead access is via gravel Forest Service roads that may require a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle.


GPS Coordinates

34.792833, -83.714233     //     N34 47.570 W83 42.854

Elevation Profile

Tray Mountain: Appalachian Trail from Indian Grave Gap  Elevation Profile
 
Eric Champlin
Author

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, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.