Atlanta TrailsbyTrailful Outdoor Co
Hiking Trails in Georgia

Preachers Rock on the Appalachian Trail

Hike to the view-packed summit of Preachers Rock on the Appalachian Trail, climbing from beautiful trailhead views at North Georgia’s Woody Gap.

georgia hiking trails: 2-4 miles 2 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: moderaterelatively
?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-
?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 Dahlonega and Helen, Georgia

PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list

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

It’s one of the shortest of our favorite day hikes on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. And with stunning views from multiple overlooks on this two-mile round trip, it’s also one of the most rewarding, mile for mile. This hike scores trailhead views at Woody Gap before climbing to Preachers Rock, a lofty, broad rock outcrop with beautiful long-range views near the summit of Big Cedar Mountain.

Hike to beautiful views from Preachers Rock in North Georgia, following the Appalachian Trail near Dahlonega

With a moderate climb and relatively short length, this is one of the easiest AT day hikes in Georgia. It’s a beautiful hike in just about any season, but particularly beautiful when autumn’s colors paint this hike’s overlook views in the colorful shades of fall, and in springtime when the forest blooms in abundant wildflowers. Thanks to the hike’s easy trailhead access from a paved highway, combined with its short distance and incredible overlook views, it’s one of the most popular stretches of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. If you’re seeking some summit solitude, hike in the early morning or mid-week for a chance to beat the crowds.

Hike to the view-packed summit of Preachers Rock on the Appalachian Trail, climbing from beautiful trailhead views at North Georgia's Woody Gap. #hiking #running #camping #backpacking #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

The hike

The adventure begins at Woody Gap on GA Hwy 60 (view maps and driving directions), catching pre-hike views from the rock-lined overlook at the southeast parking area. The view is particularly beautiful in the early morning, when the sunrise casts the nearby mountains and valleys in the day’s first golden light.

Views extend to the southeast, dropping down into the Woody Creek valley and rising to nearby Chestnut Knob and Horseshoe Ridge, with the North Georgia mountain town of Dahlonega on the horizon.

Catch stunning sunrise vistas from the Appalachian Trail at Woody Gap, just north of Dahlonega, Georgia

From the overlook, the hike crosses the paved highway and through the eastern parking area, passing a small trailhead restroom and diving into the forest. The hike follows the white, rectangular trail blazes of the Appalachian Trail, passing trailhead campsites and beginning a gradual climb. The trail arcs to the northwest before continuing its northeastern route to Preachers Rock, traveling through a forest filled with fern and speckled with colorful wildflowers in warm-weather months.

Preachers Rock: hike the Appalachian Trail through a scenic forest filled with wildflowers and ferns in North Georgia

The trail dips elevation through Lunsford Gap before resuming the climb, passing a campsite at .75 mile. Rising from the gap, the climb to Big Cedar Mountain begins as the AT carves through sharp switchbacks, passing large boulders and rock outcrops. Narrow, through-the-trees views extend from a rock outcrop on the trail’s right side at .9 miles, a preview of the stunning vistas at the summit.

Exiting the switchbacks, the hike reaches Preachers Rock, a broad rock outcrop near the summit of Big Cedar Mountain, at 1 mile. Views from the rocky summit extend to the southeast, stretching to the nearby Dockery Lake deep in the valley below. The sun-drenched rock outcrop makes for a perfect spot for a mid-hike rest.

Preachers Rock: hike the Appalachian Trail from Woody Gap to beautiful summit views

This hike turns from the overlook, retracing its outbound steps to Woody Gap and enjoying a nearly all-downhill return. The hike reaches the trailhead at 2 miles, completing the adventure.

More adventures on the Appalachian Trail in GA

If you’re up for a longer adventure, continue following the AT north from Preachers Rock. The Appalachian Trail continues its northbound journey through the Blood Mountain Wilderness, passing an intersection with the Dockery Lake Trail to reach the wildflower-filled Jarrard Gap at just under 6 miles. The AT passes intersections with the Jarrard Trail and Slaughter Creek Trail before summiting Blood Mountain and then dipping through mossy, rhododendron-filled valley at Neels Gap.

Up for another shorter-length adventure on the AT? Check out our favorite Appalachian Trail day hikes under six miles to visit more of our favorite Georgia spots along this epic-length trail. And, wherever your adventures take you, please remember to pack out everything you pack in, and leave no trace to help preserve North Georgia’s natural 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.

Preachers Rock 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!

Driving Directions


Free parking is available at the Woody Gap trailhead.

GPS Coordinates

34.677882, -83.999551     //     N34 40.672 W83 59.972

Elevation Profile

Preachers Rock on the Appalachian Trail: elevation profile

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.