Hike to the view-packed summit of Preachers Rock on the Appalachian Trail, climbing from beautiful trailhead views at North Georgia’s Woody Gap.
OFFICIAL MAP: Appalachian Trail, Trails Illustrated Map
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Trails and routes may change – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.
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Free parking is available at the Woody Gap trailhead.
34.677882, -83.999551 // N34 40.672 W83 59.972