Hike the Coosa Backcountry Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail at Georgia’s Vogel State Park, climbing to beautiful vistas on the Blood Mountain summit.

georgia hiking trails: 6 or more miles 8.5 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

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Atlanta Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

OFFICIAL MAP: Appalachian Trail, Trails Illustrated Map

Soaring and stunning, Blood Mountain is famous for its breathtaking, long-range views. Blood Mountain towers above nearby Vogel State Park, and stands as the highest elevation summit on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. And thanks to its popularity and beauty, the mountain is one of the most popular trails in North Georgia during peak spring and fall hiking seasons.

Vogel State Park: Coosa Backcountry Trail to Blood Mountain

This hike departs from Vogel State Park, following a longer (and considerably less crowded) 8.5-mile round-trip hike to the Blood Mountain summit. Compared to the more popular (and shorter) route to the Blood Mountain summit from Neels Gap, this hike’s trailhead at Vogel State Park offers ample parking, for a small fee. (Parking at Neels Gap is limited, and can fill up quickly during peak season.) And, while it’s a slightly longer route, it’s an ultra-scenic one, scoring elevated views of Vogel’s Lake Trahlyta and exploring a beautiful forest on the way to Blood Mountain’s soaring views.

Hike the Coosa Backcountry Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail at Georgia's Vogel State Park, climbing to beautiful vistas on the Blood Mountain summit #hiking #trailrunning #camping #backpacking #northgeorgia #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Vogel State Park to Blood Mountain: the hike

The adventure begins at the Vogel State Park backcountry trailhead (view maps and driving directions), following a spur trail westbound from the trailhead. At just under a half mile, the hike reaches an intersection with the Bear Hair Gap Trail loop. The route turns right at the intersection, climbing through switchbacks in a steady climb and exploring a sun-dappled, stream-filled forest. The hike follows a short side trail at 1.5 miles, trekking to an overlook with outstanding views of Vogel’s Lake Trahlyta to the northwest and through-the-trees views of the towering, majestic peak of Blood Mountain to the south.

This hike is a great workout, and the overlook’s vantage point helps put it in perspective. The hike departs from the overlook, retracing its steps to the Bear Hair Gap Trail and crossing Wolf Branch Creek. The hike reaches a signed intersection at 2.5 miles, turning right to follow the Coosa Backcountry Trail.

Vogel State Park: hike the Coosa Backcountry Trail to Blood Mountain on the Appalachian Trail

The Coosa Backcountry Trail soon intersects with the Duncan Ridge Trail. The hike follows the Duncan Ridge Trail, carving through switchbacks in a nearly unrelenting climb to the Appalachian Trail. As the route rises steadily toward Blood Mountain, the forest’s hardwoods give way to gnarly-branched rhododendron and mountain laurel. The terrain becomes rocky, exposing vast stretches of lichen-covered rock outcrops and mossy, scattered boulders.

The Duncan Ridge Trail meets the Appalachian Trail at 4.25 miles, turning left to follow the AT’s iconic white, rectangular blazes. The hike reaches the 4,458-foot Blood Mountain peak at 4.6 miles. Several scattered, lofty rock outcrops at the summit provide stunning, soaring views of the blue-hued ridges in the distance.

Vogel State Park: hike to Blood Mountain, catching stunning views from the highest summit on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

Cherokee legend holds this summit as sacred. Nearby at Slaughter Mountain, the Cherokee fought a bloody battle with the Creek, lending to Blood Mountain’s ominous name.

The mountain’s beauty is abundant, with stunning views, birds soaring above in thermal uplifts, and the rugged, windswept beauty of the surrounding forest. It’s easy to understand why the Cherokee held this place in such high esteem.

The summit is home to an Appalachian Trail Shelter, which offers primitive lodging for hikers on an epic, 2,000+ mile hike from Georgia’s Springer Mountain to Maine’s Mount Katahdin. The shelter was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and underwent a major renovation in 2012 led by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club.

Vogel State Park: hike the Coosa Backcountry Trail and Appalachian Trail to a historic shelter on Blood Mountain

After soaking in the sublime summit views, this hike departs the Blood Mountain summit, retracing its outbound route on the Appalachian Trail. The hike reaches the intersection of the Duncan Ridge Trail at 5 miles, and follows the Duncan Ridge trail as it descends to the Coosa Backcountry Trail junction near Slaughter Gap. Reaching the intersection with the Bear Hair Gap Trail, this route veers eastbound, following the eastern portion of the Bear Hair Gap loop for a more direct return to the trailhead.

The trail descends through an old-growth pine forest and passes through several large rock outcrops before crossing Wolf Creek at 7.35 miles. The hike returns to the trailhead, following the backcountry spur trail, reaching the trailhead at 8.5 miles and completing the adventure.

Vogel State Park camping

Stay the night and extend the adventure! Vogel State Park offers great pioneer camping, campsites with electric hookups, and cottages for overnight guests (fees & reservations required).

Or backpack this route and camp at a backpacking campsite (free, first-come first-camp) on the Appalachian Trail near the Blood Mountain summit. Campfires are not permitted in the Blood Mountain Wilderness, however, and food must be stored in a bear-resistant canister. And, wherever you camp, please remember to leave no trace to preserve the wilderness beauty.


Vogel State Park to Blood Mountain Map, Directions & Details

This map reflects our route when we last followed the trail. Trails and routes change frequently – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.

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This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Friends of Georgia State Parks. 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!

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

$5, or included with a Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites membership.


GPS Coordinates

34.763817, -83.926333     //     N34 45.829 W83 55.580

Elevation Profile

Vogel State Park to Blood Mountain on the Appalachian Trail: Elevation Profile
 
 
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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.