I build walks and hikes into every place I travel. A few years ago, my wife and I walked more than 16 miles in one day exploring Barcelona. For me, the best part of traveling is experiencing a new part of our planet on foot. Last year, my feet found their way along multi-mile paths and trails in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Florida, South Carolina, Michigan, Maine, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. They all were beautiful in their own way.
North Georgia, however, is equally amazing. The middle of nowhere is a lot closer than you might think and well worth the view. Here are 14 north Georgia hiking destinations I enjoy, almost all of which I find myself traversing repeatedly.
- Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville has a very nice trail at the bottom of the falls and a stairway to the top. If you want a workout, you easily can get that in.
- Toccoa Falls is beautiful and easily accessible at 107 Kincaid Drive, Toccoa Falls, GA 30598.
- Vogel State Park in Blairsville has a small lake created by a spillway, with an easy, flat trail encircling it. Just off the spillway is a very short, but somewhat steep, path to Trayleta Falls, which includes a deck that puts the water right under your feet.
- Dukes Creek Falls, located on the Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Highway, offers a moderate hiking trail and views of nearby Mount Yonah.
- Anna Ruby Falls, next to Unicoi State Park in Helen, is accessible by a paved trail and stairs, with multiple viewing platforms.
- The trail to Raven Cliff Falls, off Richard Russell Highway in Helen, is approximately 6.6 miles round-trip and follows Dodd Creek most of the way.
- The DeSoto Falls Trail, located near Dahlonega, boasts five waterfalls along a 3-mile section.
- Smithgall Woods Conservation Area is a popular destination for those who want even more walking or like to fly-fish. Located near Helen, the cabins book quickly, so prepare well in advance if you’d like to stay overnight.
- Tallulah Gorge State Park, along the county line between Rabun and Habersham counties, offers those willing to climb a spectacular view. You can see the falls with a short walk. For those capable, doing the entire circuit, 1,000 feet down and back up again, absolutely is worth the effort. Before you go, check the schedule for days they’ll be opening the spillway over the dam. Seeing the torrent of water rushing through the gorge just might be the most exciting outdoor activity Georgia has to offer.
- Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn offers more challenging hikes and the beautiful Hemlock Falls as a reward for navigating elevation changes.
- Brasstown Bald, the highest peak in Georgia, has a steep trail from the parking lot to the observation deck in Hiawassee. There also is a shuttle to the top, so even those who prefer to wander or amble, not undertake a challenging hike, can get the full experience.
- Bell Mountain has a rather narrow, switchback drive to the top of the rugged mountain, with observation decks and an incredible panoramic view of Lake Hiawassee.
- Mount Oglethorpe, right next door to Cherokee in Pickens County, is the original southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. At 3,288 feet, it is the southernmost peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has observation areas and a trail circuit that can be as easy or as challenging as you’d like.
- Springer Mountain, the current terminus of the Appalachian Trail, is for serious hikers. As with all these hikes, make sure you do your research first, especially to ensure you are up for this one.
– The Wanderer has been a resident of Cherokee County for nearly 20 years, and constantly is learning about his community on daily walks, which totaled a little more than 2,000 miles in 2022. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.