Go Take a Hike: 12 Great Trails of North Georgia
I do not like setting fitness goals (afraid I’ll fail), and yet, at almost 44 years of age, the idea of a health-oriented resolution holds a certain relevance I can’t seem to shake. In the past year, I began working a desk job full time, and where I once held meetings with people at Meeks Park or the Nottely Reservoir Trail, I now find myself stuck in zoom sessions. Though mentally stimulating, this job has done nothing for my physical health. Data indicates physical fitness remains the top New Year’s resolution with losing weight and eating better coming in at numbers 3 and 4 respectively. Statistically, most people tend to fall off the “New Year, New Me” wagon quickly with Americans giving up as early as mid-January. Recently, an article I read on Bloomberg.com struck a chord. “Fitness gurus will tell you that the key to getting in shape is to form new habits, ones that involve moving more.” Move more. That’s it. Just move more. How hard could that possibly be? I am literally sitting at a desk most of the day. I just need to get up and move. That got me thinking, what if we all said, “This year, we are going to purposefully move more.”? What if we set a goal to move 12 times more than last year? Once a month. That’s it. So, here is what my family is going to do in 2021. We are going to take a hike . . . 12 to be exact.
Blairsville-Union County is absolutely packed with scenic hiking options. Within a daytrip of Atlanta, Greenville, Chattanooga, Asheville, and even Birmingham, a distanced hiking trip is the perfect option not just for locals, but for those looking to get out of the city and into some fresh, open air. The facts that our trails feature waterfalls, the highest peak in Georgia, scenic vistas, swinging bridges, creeks, rivers, historic novelties, petroglyphs, rock-outcroppings, and exquisite flora and fauna make this area the perfect spot to get moving.
Want to join us? Here’s how you can be a part.
- Check out the list of trails below and hike one a month.
- Take a selfie on the trail and tag us on social media using #hikethe12.
1. January: Duncan Ridge Trail—Difficult, 4 miles
If you hope to see some wildlife, this 4 mile out and back offers critters and scenic views.The initial 1.25 miles is relatively flat with the final mile being a significant climb landing it in the difficult category though overall, it is moderate.You’ll enjoy Coosa Bald via the Coopers Creek Wildlife Management area known for wild hogs, bears, and incredibly diverse flora and fauna. Do bring your dog, but keep him on a leash.(Pro Tip:If you enjoy camping, there is a site at the summit. See Also--Duncan Ridge Trail and go to All Trails for full information.)
Duncan Ridge Alternate:Sea Creek Trail—Easy, 0.5 miles
Offering the reward of a waterfall view, this relatively easy and super short hike is great for kids and grandparents too.It is a muddy trail at points, so dress accordingly.In summer, it’s a great spot for wading in Sea Creek.You’ll enjoy Rhododendron and Sweet Shrub blossoms and the pungent fragrance of Ginseng as you hike.
- February: Bear Hair Gap—Moderate, 4.1 miles
Bear Hair Gap Alternate: Butternut Creek Loop at Meeks Park—Easy, 0.7 miles
Though you could tack on the entire trek through Meek’s Park including the dog park across the road giving you almost 4.5 miles of trail, you can simply enjoy the wide, partially paved path along Butternut Creek where it meets the Nottely River.A peaceful, highly traveled trail through Meek’s Park, this is a great option for families with little children with ample opportunity for wading, picnicking, frisbee, playground time, and more.(Pro Tip:No dogs on this loop and look up info on the historic Tate Mill before coming, then be sure to get photographs with it while there.)
- March: Mill Shoals Trails—Moderate, 3.4 miles
- April: Wolf Laurel Top—Moderate, 4.2 miles
Wolf Laurel Top Alternate: Sosebee Cove—Easy, 0.4 miles
The most biologically diverse area in the state of Georgia, this short trail is often overlooked because it is so short.However, if you are into flora and fauna, birding, or want to see some of the largest, oldest trees in Union County, this is a must stop.Stay on the trail here because everywhere you step, there are rare, sometimes endangered species.(Pro Tip:Bring your birding and plant books along and enjoy trying to identify the rich offerings of nature. Right off Georgia 180, watch close for the pull-off.It is easily missed.)
- May: Dockery Lake Trail—Moderate, 7 miles
Dockery Lake Alternate:Lakeshore Trail—Easy, 0.6 miles
This handicap accessible trail circles Dockery lake in the Chestatee Wildlife Management Area and loops in at just over half a mile.Enter at the Dockery Lake Recreation area, and travel to the opposite end for picnicking.Offering footpaths to fishing and a platform located off the dam, though easy, this trail still affords some beautiful views and the promise of fresh air making it a great alternative to more strenuous hikes.
- June: Logan Turnpike Trail—Moderate, 4.1 miles
Logan Turnpike Trail Alternate:Lake Winfield Scott Trail—Easy, 0.9 miles
Just under a mile, this beautiful lakeshore path takes you around Lake Winfield Scott with ease.Lovely seasonal flowers, and in autumn, a gorgeous reflection of leaves in the lake make this hike one worth repeating.Take the kids, the dog (on a leash), and even the grandparents for this one.(Pro Tip:Bring your fishing poles and stop along the way to try your hand at catching dinner. North Georgia mountain fresh water trout are simply the best fried with butter, cracked pepper, and lemon.)
- July: Preacher’s Rock—Moderate, 1.9 miles
- August: Reece Heritage Farm to Vogel—Moderate
- September: Freeman Trail--5.7 miles, Moderate
Freeman Trail Alternate:Nottely Resovoir Trail—Easy, 2.5 miles
This 2.5 mile loop is situated on the shores of Lake Nottely in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.The trail is easy and affords lovely views and picnicking spots.Additionally, it is a pet friendly trail with easy parking.Bring your suit and a towel if you fancy a swim!If you hike in the evening, you’ll enjoy a bit of relief from September heat and a sensational sunset.
- October: Blood Mountain Via Byron Reece Trail--Difficult, 4.3 miles
Blood Mountain Alternate:Desoto Falls—Easy, 1.9 miles
While you may want to plan a camping trip to make this one last longer, this hike clocks in under 2 miles and offers two lovely waterfalls as the reward for a relatively easy hike.With ease of parking, heavy rhododendron, and mountain laurel canopies, and lots of hardwoods, this is a great spot for enjoying birds as well as capturing waterfalls on camera with a terrific platform for viewing.Bring the kids and the dog on this trek, and you’ll leave with great memories.
- November: Arkaquah to Brasstown Bald—Hard, 11 miles (5.5 one way)
Arkaquah Alternate: Brasstown Bald Trail--Easy,1.4 mile
If you are seeking tri-state area views without the aggressive hike from town, consider this paved, alternative option.The wildflowers along the path are lovely, and the view atop is perfect any season provided the day is clear.
- December: Wagon Train Trail—Moderate, 6 miles
Wagon Train Trail Alternate:Cooper’s Creek Trail Loop—Easy, 1.7 miles
Quiet and peaceful, you’ll want to dress warm for this hike through the Coopers Creek Wildlife Management Area.A loop that explores wildflowers in spring and summer, and gives a tranquil look at the North Georgia mountain woodlands any season, you can bring your kids and your dogs on this trek. In December, this spot is so quiet it is almost like a sanctuary. (Pro Tip:this trail is located directly across the road from a large parking lot along the creek.)
(We ask that all who join us in the mountains respect and reguard all social distancing regulations.)