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Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
4,100.00 ft (1,249.68 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
16.40 mi (26.39 km)
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Blood Mountain lies in the heart of the Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest and is a popular attraction for day hikes out of Atlanta. The popular but shorter ascent from U.S. Highway 19 makes a great day hike via the Freeman Trail loop, although parking is usually congested on summer weekends. For a longer hike, a different approach from the west side of the mountain adds more miles, extra elevation gain, and more scenery. Summiting Blood Mountain from Woody Gap on Georgia State Highway 60 makes for an agressive day hike or can easily be turned into an overnight trip with a plethora of backcountry camping and two shelter options.

Starting at Woody Gap parking area, head north (east side of the gap) on the Appalachian Trail. The way to Blood Mountain is marked by white blazes and signs and is extremely easy to navigate. After a mile on mostly level trail, climb up a steep set of rocky switchbacks to the stunning Preacher's Rock Overlook on Big Cedar Mountain. Sweeping views of the southeast make for a perfect spot to take a breather. Approximately a half-mile after this overlook, a short hundred-yard, blue-blazed trail heads to the right to another overlook hidden just over the ridge. Several tent sites dot this section of the main trail before descending off Big Cedar.

After Big Cedar, the trail eases up to lesser grades and follows a ridge with several rolling peaks out to Blood Mountain. Along the way are three regularly flowing creek cascades, a large group tent site in a forested alcove, and plenty of camping at Jarrard Gap. Before the trail heads up Blood Mountain, the Woods Hole Shelter and a spring hide about a half-mile to the left on a blue-blazed side route.

The intersection of the Freeman Trail marks the ascent of Blood Mountain. A small stream flowing beside a set of large rock steps twisting to the right marks the last water source of the trail; fill up here for the rest of the climb as there is no water at the summit. After an steady uphill, a privy and a stone shelter marks the top of Blood Mountain. Climb up the rock pile for a fantastic view and tag the true summit just a few dozen yards past the shelter. Returning is as simple as turning around and following the AT back to Woody Gap, which is mostly downhill now!

Ideal times to visit are summer and fall, where the massive views reveal Georgia's beautiful forest foliage. Mid-May and June are colorful months with azalea and rhododendron blooming at low and high elevations, respectively. Winter is also usually cold, clear, and frequently snowy, while spring tends to be a chilly, rainy, and foggy experience. Also note the Forest Service's seasonal food storage restrictions for this stretch of trail. Bear canisters are required on overnight stays for a few weeks during peak season in March and April.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Shaded. Sweeping views. Social.

Cons

Green tunnel in summer. Uphill all day.

Trailhead Elevation

3,170.00 ft (966.22 m)

Highest point

4,455.00 ft (1,357.88 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Shelters

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia
Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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