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. (Click link on trail name for distance and detailed map for directions)
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.
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think or to share your experiences on this section of the trail. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!