Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
14,000.00 ft (4,267.20 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
57.00 mi (91.73 km)
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The Georgia Loop is considered to be the most difficult hike in the state. At 57 miles and roughly 14,000 feet of elevation gain, this trail is not for the faint of heart. It is comprised of sections of the Appalachian Trail, the Duncan Ridge Trail, and the Benton MacKaye Trail. There are many access points along major roads, and getting on and off trail are extremely easy. This loop makes for a solid backpacking trip of from as little as two to more than five days long with sweeping views, waterfalls, remote areas, and prime backcountry camping.

Starting at Woody Gap on GA-60 and hiking counterclockwise, the trail starts on the Appalachian Trail and follows white blazes towards Blood Mountain. The first scenic overlook is at the top of Big Cedar Mountain. A short ways ahead is a blue-blazed side trail leading to Preacher's Rock and it's grand view. Continuing up and down hill will take you past several campgrounds and eventually to the Wood's Hole shelter spur trail.

Water is available from a marked spring about a quarter-mile down the Wood's Hole spur trail. This is one of the last reliable water sources for the next 15 to 20 miles, so fill up accordingly. Water is also available within Vogel State Park, but it requires a significant detour to get there and back.

Continuing toward Blood Mountain, stay on the AT (do not take Slaughter Creek Trail) and then turn off onto the Duncan Ridge Trail (also labeled Coosa Backcountry Trail). Blood mountain is a lovely climb with amazing views if your hike allows, but if you find yourself there without planning on it, you've missed the DRT turnoff.

The Duncan Ridge Trail cuts over several big mountains within Vogel State Park, including Slaughter Mountain and Coosa Bald. After exiting Vogel State Park, the DRT enters into Coopers Creek WMA for about 20 miles. This part of the trail is signified by its steep ups and downs and is quite difficult. The trail dips down off the ridge and occasionally is within sight of an offroad vehicle trail, but it is otherwise very remote. Several campsites are along the trail, but water is not easily accessible until Mulky Gap.

At Mulky Gap, a blue "W" points east along a rough gravel road. Water is available a quarter-mile down this road. Follow it until it reaches a clearing with a handicapped-accessible hunting stand. Across the turn-around is a small trail that continues into the woods. About 100 yards in is a small stream from a spring. The next easily accessible water is approximately 10 miles out at the next GA-60 crossing, so fill up appropriately again.

The Duncan Ridge Trail keeps going, and just as it begins to smooth out and appears to be ending, it shoots back up a few more mountains. It is not until the actual intersection with the Benton MacKaye trail that the DRT eases up. From this intersection, there is one easy climb up and over Wallalah Mountain and then downhill to Little Skeenah creek and GA-60.

When taking water from Little Skeenah creek at GA-60, be sure to filter and treat as there is farmland upstream and it is near a road.

The Benton MacKaye Trail has easier climbs up a gently switch backed route and over Tooni Mountain, and then down to the Toccoa River. At the river, campsites and recreation areas are along either bank, and a sturdy suspension bridge hangs over the rushing water. Climbing out of the river valley is a slow trudge up, but once at elevation you will mostly walk on ridgelines back to the AT. Along the way, many nice campsites are just off trail, although again, water is not available until the end of the BMT section.

Heading into the Long Creek and Three Forks area, the trail comes down off a grassy bald into a cool, shady area with running water. Follow the signs to stay on the Benton MacKaye Trail. At the junction with the Appalachian Trail, a blue-blazed trail leads several hundred yards to the roaring Long Creek Falls. This is a great spot to rest, recharge, refill your water, and enjoy. Additionally, the Three Forks area is less than a mile south on the AT and has excellent camping and water, although it is quite popular.

The Appalachian Trail is the easier of the three sections, although there are still many miles back to Woody Gap. Camping, shelters (Hawk and Gooch Mountain) and water are all readily available along the way. This section will also not be as solitary as the rest of the loop. Sassafras Mountain will be the tallest climb, and after leaving Gooch Gap, the final 3 miles are uphill back to Woody Gap.

While the trail is usually clear, take a good map along and be comfortable with being able to navigate off-trail around large obstacles (fallen trees and debris). This trail requires good planning for an enjoyable hike, especially with the rugged terrain and water scarcity along the Duncan Ridge Trail. Despite its difficulty, it is a very beautiful trek through the best mountain terrain Georgia has to offer, and it really showcases the state's landscape and seasonal flowers.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Solitude. Waterfall. River. Sweeping views.

Cons

Lack of water. Less maintained.

Trailhead Elevation

3,165.00 ft (964.69 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Shelters

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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