January 19th, 2019
Max Patch, standing at a modest 4600 feet, is what’s considered a “bald” mountain due to being cleared and used as pasture in the 1800’s. This is one of the many things that make this mountain so alluring. From its summit you have breathtaking 360-degree views which extend to Mount Mitchell and The Great Smoky Mountains. There is no question as to why this is a favorite among tourist and thru-hikers alike for camping and picnicking in hopes of catching that one of a kind sunrise or sunset. Hiking Max Patch is a captivating experience that’s hard to explain and photos can’t capture the true perspective.
There are two loop trails that I would rate as moderate/easy for day hikers and campers ranging from 1.4 to 2.4 miles in length and neither of the two trails will disappoint. Shared on the map below is the 1.4-mile loop which we hiked on our visit. You definitely will find it hard to concentrate on your journey with such a scenic landscape so make sure to allow ample time for your visit to hike the many trails or to just sit back and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. I have shared some of my favorite photos from our trip below to give you an idea of what to expect.
Max Patch Mountain is located in the Pisgah National Forest approximately an hour’s drive north of Asheville, NC. Ample parking is provided at the trailhead along with roadside parking for busier days. Nearby attractions would include beautiful historic downtown Asheville, the famous Biltmore Estate and the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.
Whether you’re an Appalachian Trail fanatic like me or someone that just hasn’t had the opportunity to visit the Appalachian Trail, then this section of the AT is one to see.
January 19th, 2019
I’ve lived in the North Georgia Mountains my entire life and until a few weeks ago have never visited the Chief Vann House historical site. Quickly after arriving on the grounds, I realized that this is a trip I should’ve taken much sooner. This is truly a token of the Georgia State Park System and an intriguing part of Georgia history.
The home, constructed in 1804, was definitely far ahead of its time. It’s one of oldest remaining structures in the northern
third of our great state of Georgia and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s really hard to imagine what it would have been like to own such a plantation back in those days.
Once you enter the home you travel back in time to an era without our modern luxuries such as running water, indoor bathrooms or even kitchen facilities. I’m still in awe of the unique design and attention to detail of this home, a mixture of late Federal and early Georgian style architectures. No doubt it was in a class above most homes of its time and was most notably known as the “Showplace of the Cherokee Nation”.
This plantation encompassed over 800 acres and included a blacksmith shop, 42 slave cabins, 6 barns, and a trading post. It was originally owned by James Vann who was known as the wealthiest man of the Cherokee Nation. The site today includes the home along with several replica buildings that would have existed on the grounds originally. The on-site visitor center contains detailed information, displays, and photographs from the earlier years and the home rehabilitation project.
Located on the outskirts of Chatsworth, Georgia at the intersection of Hwy. 52 and Hwy. 225 this State Historic site has wonderful views of the Cohutta Mountains and easy access to many dining and accommodation options. For more information and hours of operation please visit the Georgia State Parks website. For your next visit to the North Georgia Mountains make sure to put this on your to-do list. You won’t be disappointed!
January 14th, 2019
North Georgia’s Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawson County, GA. is home to this truly unique backcountry Inn. The Len Foote Hike Inn is only accessible to the public by foot along its own hiking trail that travels through the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest.
From the moment that you step into the lobby you can begin to feel the stress free environment that the Hike Inn promotes. From the wood burning stove centered in the floor to the hiking gear artifacts hanging around the walls to the section dedicated to the history of the Inn and its namesake, Leonard E. Foote.
Mr. Foote, a Georgia native, was a leading conservationist, biologist and nature photographer that dedicated his work to preserving the beauty of the outdoors. To this day these are still the beliefs that the Hike Inn continues to operate on, such as obtaining their electricity from Photo-voltaic solar panels and odor free composting toilets.
The Inn is a 20 room facility with a dining hall, hot showers and an abundance of porches to relax on and take in the beautiful mountain view’s or socialize with fellow hikers and friends.
The sign marked trailhead is located at the top of the Falls parking lot. This is where the adventure begins as the trail meanders through a lush forest, laurel lined tunnels and several small stream crossings with foot bridges. Midway through the trail you'll find a beautiful vista looking to the east with a bench which makes for great place to take a break and enjoy the view. I would rate this trail as moderate and makes for a 5-mile trek (10 miles out & back). I would consider this one of the most enjoyable trails that you’ll find in the North Georgia area.
For those who choose to stay overnight and would like to add to your hiking miles, you can continue past the Hike Inn until it intersects with the Appalachian Trail Approach Trail. From here continue North for another 5 miles (10 miles out & back) to reach Springer Mountain, the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. This makes for a great day hike while getting to enjoy a little piece of history.
Whether you’re a diehard hiker or just a family looking to “Unplug” for the weekend this is a must visit destination.
January 11th, 2019
Noted as one of the most scenic sections of the Toccoa River, this unique footbridge is a popular year-round attraction for day hikers and campers along with those kayaking or canoeing the Toccoa River Canoe Trail. It spans an impressive 265 feet across the Toccoa River which makes it the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River. This swinging bridge was constructed by a private contractor for the US Forest Service in conjunction with the Appalachian Trail Club and completed in 1977. Since that time this landmark has become one of the most popular hiking and camping spots in Blue Ridge, Georgia. This unique structure is located along one of the more well-known long-distance trails in the southeast, The Benton MacKaye Trail, at 17.1 miles from the trails Southern Terminus.
You can access the swinging bridge in one of three ways. If you’re a hiker, like myself, there are two options. To make for a shorter day hike you can park at the Benton MacKaye parking area on Ga. Hwy. 60 and take a 3-mile moderate hike (6-miles out & back) along a forest filled trail to the north end of the bridge. For a longer day hike or possible overnight hike, you can park at the three forks parking area located on FS Road 58 (Noontootla Road) that makes for an 8.4-mile moderate to difficult hike (16.8 miles out & back) to the southern end of the bridge. Option 3 is a driving option for those of you that choose not to journey along the trails. Take FS Road 816 off of Ga. Hwy. 60 (There is a National Forest sign noting the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge) for approximately 3 miles to a small parking area. From the parking area it will be a 0.5-mile walk to the north end of the bridge.
Things to put on your visit to do list would include visiting Downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia which offers local shopping and a variety of dining options along with the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. For you trout fisherman, there are many trout waters to fish including the Toccoa River itself and nearby Coopers Creek to name a few, all of which can be fished guided or self-guided. If you’re not familiar with the area and would like a little expertise in hooking that trophy fish be sure to call on our friends at Reel ‘Em In Guide Service. If you visit in the summer months make sure to visit nearby Toccoa Valley Campground Tubing & Rafting for a scenic journey tubing down the Toccoa River.
Whether you’re a hiker or just out exploring the “Swinging Bridge” you will be well rewarded for your time and a day well spent in our beautiful North Georgia Mountains.
January 11th, 2019
Blood Mountain Summit
Blood Mountain is most notably known as the highest peak on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail. Standing at 4458 feet at its summit makes it the sixth tallest mountain in the State. Some believe the origin of its name came from a bloody battle between the Cherokee and Creek Indians, while others believe its derived from the reddish color Lichen and Catawba growing near the summit. Located within the boundaries of the Chattahoochee National Forest and Blood Mountain Wilderness this is one of the most visited sections of the AT in Georgia and home to the Historic Blood Mountain Shelter.
The Blood Mountain Shelter was originally constructed in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) for the Georgia State Parks System and later transferred to the US Forest Service in a land exchange agreement in 1956. This two-room stone cabin was rehabilitated in 2011 after many years of hiker related damages. Many efforts were made to restore the cabin to its original state by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC) and USFS with over 3200 volunteer hours spanning a 20-month period. Since that time the shelter was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 2013.
This section of the Appalachian Trail is one of my personal favorites to hike. Although the hike is not an easy one, it’s well worth the effort for the breathtaking views that can be enjoyed from this summits massive rock formations. Unlike many North Georgia vista's, this summit is unique due to the amount of “open space” spreading across its vast rock outcropping’s. These areas make a great place to picnic, sit and reflect or just hang out. Many day hikers make this journey for the stunning sunrises and sunsets and can become quite crowded during warmer months.
There are several access trails to the summit, none of which would be the wrong way to go. From the South, you can take the Slaughter Creek or Jarrard Gap trail which also houses the Woods Hole Shelter and can be accessed through the Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area. From the North, you can take the AT at Neels Gap or the Byron Herbert Reece Trail (Our favorite and shortest access) both of which can be accessed from Hwy. 19/129 (Gainesville Hwy.). From the West, you can travel the Bear Hair Gap or Coosa Backcountry Trail both accessed through Vogel State Park. All of the trails listed I would rate as difficult due to the elevation gain and rocky terrain that you will encounter.
Nearby places of interest would include Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi a local outfitters store and hiker hostel. This historic building is the only place that the Appalachian Trail passes through a man-made structure. Other attractions include Vogel State Park, Lake Winfield Scott and Desoto Falls Scenic Recreation Area. For a full list of accommodations, dining and activities please visit the Union County Chamber of Commerce.
June 24th, 2017
As one of North Georgia's most popular family friendly day hikes, Preacher's Rock is well worth the short 1 mile climb. Located in beautiful Suches, GA., the trail head begins at the Woody Gap Recreation Area which offers a beautiful overlook view and several picnic tables with restroom facilities.
The trail i would rate as moderate with a modest climb of 360 feet from the parking lot to the summit. The trail is pet friendly for leashed pets and a great spot for a picnic with expansive mountain views and large boulder outcropping's.
Nearby points of interest would include the historic Woody Gap School, Woody Lake and for you bikers out there a popular stop "The Two Wheels Restaurant and Campground. The next time that you're visiting the North Georgia Mountains make sure to put this hike on your list.