Yonah Mountain is a mountain ridge in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in northern Georgia between Cleveland and Helen. The mountain is fairly prominent, and the trail rises 1,500 feet in less than 2 miles from the parking lot. “Yonah” is the Cherokee word for bear. As a Native American legend goes, the mountain was the sight of a Romeo-and-Juliet-style death of a Cherokee maiden and Chickasaw warrior. When their love was forbidden by tribal elders, the Chickasaw warrior was thrown from the mountain, and the maiden jumped after him to her death. The Fifth Ranger Training Battalion of the U.S. Army uses Yonah as the base for the mountain phase of Ranger School for rock climbing practice. The area is popular with climbers, hikers, and campers alike.
Starting from the Yonah Mountain Trailhead off of Chamber Road, follow the marked trail up 1,500 feet of elevation gain in less than 2 miles, making it a short, but not easy, trail to the summit. The grassy bald on the summit makes for great camping with multiple viewpoints a short walk through the trees. There is little to no water near the summit, so make sure to bring extra if you plan on staying the night. Take great care near the edge, as it slopes steeply and unexpectedly. Hike down the way you came and make sure to arrive early as the lot fills up by late morning.