Five Wild and Wander-ful Hikes of Georgia
by Shelby DeCusati, Girls Who Hike Georgia Ambassador
Do you love being outdoors and exploring new trails? Have you ever wondered what kind of southern charm Georgia has to offer? Georgia isn’t just about exploring the great city of Atlanta or just a state of sweet peaches, fried fixins’, and southern accents. It also is home to some
extraordinary mountain trails, such as the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. Did you know that the Appalachian Trail is the longest hike-only footpath in the world? It extends from Georgia to Maine. In addition to being one of the most popular hiking trails, there are also plenty of hiking gems for those looking to explore deeper into of what Georgia has to offer. As a proud born and raised Georgian I would like to share with you five wild and wander-ful hikes I have thoroughly enjoyed and what makes each of these trails unique.
1. Cloudland Canyon State Park
Cloudland Canyon is one of the largest state parks in the state of Georgia. Cloudland Canyon encompasses thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, and dense woodland. The state park offers numerous trails, but the trails that I enjoyed
exploring most were the waterfall trail and west-rim trail because they have two unique experiences to offer while visiting Cloudland Canyon. The Waterfall Trail is quite an intense stair step workout! It is about 2 miles but include 600 stairs down and back up. I promise these waterfalls are worth the trip! There are two extravagant waterfalls below, Cherokee
Falls and Hemlock Falls. You are welcome to enjoy the views of watching water spill over into the canyon’s depths from observation decks or sitting alongside the pool on one of many boulders. You are advised not to swim in the pools of water. The Sitton Gulch trail is connected to these trails as well. So, if you would like more of an adventure, and to continue hiking along the eastern rim of the canyon. The Sitton Gulch Trail has a bridge crossing the canyon, massive boulders, and multiple waterfalls and views from the depths of the canyon.
The West-Rim Loop Trail is around 5 miles. It offers a unique experience to see astonishing views of the east and western rims of Cloudland Canyon. These steep overlooks offer breathtaking heights and panoramic views of the canyon. These views could easily be some of Georgia’s finest
and I would highly recommend catching a sunrise or sunset here!
2. Rabun Bald
Are you anxious to adventure up to a magnificent 360-degree panoramic view of the North Carolina and North Georgia mountains? Rabun Bald is the second highest peak in the state of Georgia. It is about a 3-mile moderate hike with the last quarter of a mile being the most strenuous because of the elevation. Let me tell you, these views are totally worth the work! Though Brasstown Bald may be Georgia’s highest peak, many times the tourist buses can get in the way or over crowded trails and observation deck can take away from the reasons people like adventuring to the mountains, to get away. Rabun Bald’s observation deck can be peaceful and often times you can catch a glimpse of birds soaring through the mountain skies. Rabun Bald should definitely be added to your hiking bucket list because there is nothing quite like this sweet serene view.
3. Panther Creek Falls
Do you like chasing waterfalls? Have you heard that Georgia has some of the most awe-inspiring waterfalls? Well, you better believe it because the North Georgia Mountains have plenty of charming waterfall hikes. Panther Creek Falls has to be one of Georgia’s favorite waterfall hikes because this 7-mile round trip hike includes a sequence of cascading falls located in the luscious forest. This makes a great hike during the spring, summer, and fall months because you can also swim in the mossy multi-tiered falls and deep swimming pool or chill on the sandy beaches of it and take in the natural North Georgia beauty. This trail has plenty of spots off of the walking path
that make for camp sites so over night trips are optimal and popular along this trail. This was the first trail I took my husband Justin and dog carter backpacking on for the first time!
4. Mount Yonah
Hiking to this rock face summit has to be one of the most outstanding in Georgia. If you like camping, hiking, or rock climbing this is the perfect path for you! Mount Yonah is around a 4-mile trail that follows through a dense forest of trees and wild flowers. You may find the path may be a little rocky with some large boulders to climb over but views are insurmountable once you reach the top. Mount Yonah is one of Georgia’s best and most popular hikes in the southern
Appalachian because of its exposed rock face for climbers and hikers to enjoy. It simply delivers what outdoor enthusiasts look for with its steep drop-offs, iconic rock face summit, and iconic views over Georgia. One of my favorite memories is sharing a southern sunset up on the top with my pup Carter.
5. Blood Mountain
Would you like to be able to say that you hiked the highest peak in Georgia on the Appalachian Trail? Well, it’s time to add Blood Mountain to your must hike list! The views from this trail are great year round. One of my favorite hiking memories of were shared on this trial with my brother George and dog Carter. We completely hiked in feet of snow and ice with not a soul in sight. Some people may say this is completely crazy and unsafe, but we sure did have a blast! The trail can be considered around a steep 4 mile more difficult hike. This can be an extremely popular day hike in Georgia because of the countless scenic views it offers along the AT and on the way up to the summit. The trail will open up as you near the summit with various boulders, and rock faces you are able to enjoy the view from. What many people miss out on is hiking some of the steepest sections of this trail to the very top which has a rock building (shelter). This is a shelter that was built around the 1930s but can be used by campers and through hikers on their way to Maine to accomplish the AT. My favorite view is actually right outside of this shelter along the boulders that provide extraordinary views over the North Georgia Mountains.