The 20 Best Hikes in Georgia

In Georgia, there are blossoms galore in spring, canopies of leaves in summer, and crisp air and foliage in the fall. Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself on a long day hike or head out for a leisurely stroll with the whole family, there’s a hike on this list for anyone who wants to hit the trail in the Peach State!

Table of Contents

1. Hike to Anna Ruby Falls

Photo: Matthew Koehnemann

Distance: 1 mile
Elevation: 374 ft
Type: Out-and-back

This is a quick hike alongside a babbling creek to two picturesque waterfalls in Chattahoochee National Forest. Smith Creek contains large boulders with rushing rapids flowing overtop. The entire path is paved, making it a highly accessible trail. Once at the falls, there are two observation decks, but expect fellow visitors to flock here, too. Do this hike during off-peak times to avoid large crowds.

2. Hike Blood Mountain

Photo: Rob Giersch

Distance: 4.34 miles
Elevation: 1447 ft
Type: Out-and-back

This scenic adventure featuring stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains is right in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Expect to cross some creeks and hike through rhododendron (depending on the season), big rock formations, and dense woods. Delight in a sunrise for an extra memorable experience and say hello to thru-hikers who might be passing by as this route intersects the Appalachian Trail. Arrive on the early side, especially if you’re planning a weekend excursion, to enjoy less traffic.

3. Hike the Indian Seats Trail

Photo: Alan Maxcy

Distance: 3.24 miles
Elevation: 453 ft
Type: Loop

This Sawnee Mountain Preserve adventure features evergreens and deciduous trees, making this an especially magical trail to hike in October and November during peak fall foliage time. This trail is a popular family-friendly adventure about 45 minutes from Atlanta, so it’s busy during midday. Try to visit during off peak times to avoid waiting to enjoy the gorgeous views.

4. Hike and climb to Yonah Mountain

Photo: Cole Christiansen

Distance: 4.53 miles
Elevation: 1417 ft
Type: Out-and-back

This is a versatile adventure for hikers, campers, and climbers alike. Mount Yonah is an excellent place to catch a beautiful Blue Ridge sunset, set up a hammock and relax, or stay the night. The light pollution in the area is minimal, making it an ideal spot for astrophotography and constellation viewing. Yonah Mountain a great Fall foliage hike since the treetops burst with color as the leaves change. While walking, you may notice Army Rangers in training who occasionally train in the area.

5. Climb the stairs to Amicalola Falls

Photo: Matthew Ady

Distance: 0.73 miles
Elevation: 292 ft
Type: Out-and-back

Enjoy sights of the tallest cascading waterfall in the South off this trail in North Georgia. The hike from the parking lot entails ascending about 600 stairs to the top. The climb is worth it as the views of the falls and mountains are gorgeous. The stairs lead to a bridge, the perfect viewing platform to take in the falls straight ahead. You’ll want to get your camera out!

6. Hike Cloudland Canyon’s Waterfall Trail

Photo: Alan Maxcy

Distance: 1.21 miles
Elevation: 325 ft
Type: Out-and-back

This adventure is a descent into a steep canyon and features two waterfalls at the bottom. About a half mile into the hike, you’ll encounter a fork in the trail. The left trail leads to Cherokee Falls and the right takes you to Hemlock Falls. Note that the winter is the best time of year to visit the falls as it’s more likely you’ll get to see them flowing in full force. Visiting in the Fall is also wonderful as the colors will be vibrant. Bring plenty of water – it’s helpful to be hydrated for the hike back up the canyon.

7. Hike to Roswell Mill Ruins via Vickery Creek Trail

Photo: Kelley Le

3.46 miles
Elevation: 374 ft
Type: Loop

This is a fun spot for a day of exploring the Roswell Mill, a covered bridge, and Vickery Creek Falls. Bring a swimsuit in the warmer months as you can take a dip at the base of the falls. There are cliffs and even a rope swing! Bring lunch and lay out to replenish your energy post-swim.

8. Hike to Blue Hole and High Shoals Creek Falls

Photo: Tiffany Lachner

Distance: 2.45 miles
Elevation: 479 ft
Type: Out-and-back

This is a picturesque adventure in Chattahoochee National Forest features Blue Hole and Shoal Falls– a must-see place for photography opportunities and for those who want to swim with a beautiful backdrop during the hot summer months. This spot is a bit of a hidden gem, so if you’re looking to escape into some solitude, give it a go! Another perk– it’s dog friendly!

9. Hike the White Loop at Sweetwater Creek

Photo: Alan Maxcy

Distance: 4.87 miles
Elevation: 371 ft
Type: Loop

Just a quick drive from downtown Atlanta, this unique adventure explores the five-story New Manchester Mill ruins as visitors enjoy the sights and sounds of Sweetwater Creek. New Manchester was a mid-nineteenth century mill town that burned down during the Civil War. Movie fanatics can appreciate the fun fact that these ruins appeared in The Hunger Games (Mockingjay Part 1) movie! Bring binoculars to enjoy this awesome birdwatching opportunity!

10. Hike along Sope Creek

Photo: Rob Giersch

Distance: 1.97 miles
Elevation: 226 ft
Type: Loop

Sope Creek borders the Chattahoochee River and is a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta’s city streets for hikers, mountain bikers, and anyone who wants to spend time in nature. Explore 18th century mill ruins, Sibley Pond, and the Chattahoochee River. There are plenty of opportunities to view wildlife in this peaceful slice of wilderness.

11. Hike Arabia Mountain

Photo: Rob Giersch

Distance: 1.52 miles
Elevation: 89 ft
Type: Out-and-back

Take the day to explore beautiful granite formations, ponds in the crevices (after rainfall), and panoramic views of the surrounding area at the summit. You’ll hike through pine forest along a boardwalk and across some rocky terrain. This adventure is dog-friendly, so bring your pup for extra company!

12. Hike Hurricane Falls

Photo: Matthew Koehnemann

Distance: 1.85 miles
Elevation: 564 ft
Type: Out-and-back

Soak in the sights of stunning waterfalls in this 1,000-foot-deep gorge in Tallulah Gorge State Park. While immersed in the pure beauty of this wooded area, you’ll trek along stairs and pass through a hanging suspension bridge. There are plenty of lookouts where visitors can take in the beauty from all sides. If you want to hike down to the bottom of the falls, you’ll need a permit.

13. Hike the Battlefield and Mountain Loop

Photo: Kelley Le

Distance: 10.24 miles
Elevation: 1355 ft
Type: Loop

Explore the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park with views of Atlanta at the top of Kennesaw Mountain. This historic area features church ruins from the Civil War era and a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps camp. History buffs will enjoy the chance to spend the day outside while learning about Georgia’s past.

14. Hike Pine Mountain

Photo: Nick Tort

Distance: 42.11 miles
Elevation: 597 ft
Type: Loop

Summit Pine Mountain and bask in the idyllic views of Allatoona Lake. Trek through a path that features forest, huge granite outcrops, flowing streams, waterfalls, and wooden bridges. Bring lunch to have a picturesque picnic at the top or a hammock to hang and kick back and relax before heading back down. There are also a few good spots for bouldering for those interested in climbing.

15. Hike the Canyon Loop in Providence Canyon

Photo: Seth Berry

Distance: 4.8 miles
Elevation: 298 ft
Type: Loop

Known as Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon,” you’ll understand why if you visit! Though significantly smaller in comparison to the real Grand Canyon, you’ll encounter vibrant red rock canyon walls and a terrain uncommon in elsewhere in Georgia. Note that climbing is not allowed from the canyon floor or rim as the soil is fragile. Participate in one of the clean up days to help keep this special place looking pristine!

16. Hike the West Rim Trail to Cherokee Falls

Photo: Clare Healey

Distance: 5.4 miles
Elevation: 1945 ft
Type: Loop

This adventure features two 60+ foot waterfalls in Cloudland Canyon State Park. There are plenty of campgrounds and yurts in the area if you want to stay the night and maximize your time exploring. The lookout points from the rim are ideal for viewing the massive canyon walls. Some say Fall is the best time of year to visit the park as the changing leaves are a sight to see.

17. Hike to Raven Cliffs

Photo: Tiffany Lachner

Distance: 4.9 miles
Elevation: 400 ft
Type: Out-and-back

Trek along Dodd Creek and enjoy views of a three-tiered waterfall. Note that there are several other waterfalls along the trail as well. Be on the lookout for wildlife on the way! Interested in camping? There are a few tent campsites that are first-come, first-served. At the base of the main falls, there’s a swimming hole for cooling off during your hike.

18. Hike to the Brasstown Bald Peak

Photo: Jason Clemmons

Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation: 500 ft
Type: Out-and-back

Hike to the top of the highest point in Georgia! Brasstown Bald Mountain is a great adventure to get out and pass by beautiful budding flowers (depending on the season) or summiting for the sunrise or sunset. For those wanting to take in the fantastic views of the Appalachian Mountains without the strain, there are shuttle rides to the top of the mountain during the summer and fall.

19. Hike and Swim at Red Top Mountain

Photo: Jeremy Cournyea

Distance: 5.5 miles
Elevation: 1100 ft
Type: Loop

Looking for shade and a place to swim during Georgia’s hot summer months? The Red Top Mountain’s Homestead Trail is the spot to go as it boasts plenty of shaded areas and a large swimming hole. It’s a great kid- and dog-friendly adventure. Aside from hiking, there are a number of places to fish around Lake Allatoona, go camping, and rent boats or kayaks at one of the marinas.

20. Hike to Panther Creek Falls

Photo: Kelley Le

Distance: 7 miles
Elevation: 200 ft
Type: Out-and-back

In the Chattahoochee National Forest, follow a trail through dense woods leading to a series of waterfalls. There’s a swimming hole at the base of Panther Creek Falls, so bring a swimsuit in the summer months for a refreshing dip! Camp at one of the primitive campsites along the trail for a peaceful getaway among the trees. This is a very popular camping area, so please be respectful and practice carry-in and carry-out rules to preserve the natural beauty of this space. 

Cover photo: Kelley Le

— Update: 03-01-2023 — found an additional article The 23 Best Hikes in Georgia – Top Rated Hiking Trails from the website for the keyword best day hikes in georgia.

Best day hikes in georgia Posted in Georgia Hiking, Nature June 01, 2022 by Sarah McCosham

It’s not all peaches and beaches in Georgia; the state really is so much more that meets the eye. For starters, Georgia has an estimated 24.5 of forest land, which comprises over 40% of the state.

There are 50 designated Georgia state parks and 11 national parks, plus numerous National Park Service sites and points of interest. And in terms of the water, it’s not just stunning shoreline (though its 110 miles of coastline *and* beautiful isles are not to be missed); there are about 25,000 rivers in Georgia – yes,

Add it all up, and you have a state with immense geographical topography, biodiversity, and landscapes, making Georgia a prime hiking destination in the U.S.

Best Hiking Trails in Georgia

Whether you’re an experienced outdoor enthusiast or newbie hiker, you’re sure to find your very own Goldilocks trail in Georgia.

Looking for a short-and-sweet hike for the whole family? Or an all-day adventure in some of the country’s more immense natural wonders… complete with hiking areas, too? Need an ADA-accessible trek for all the members of your party? Or perhaps you’re a helpless waterfall chaser looking for the perfect waterfall trek (guilty!).

You’ll find it all – and more – in Georgia. Don’t believe us? Here are some of the best all-around hiking trails in Georgia, and they are truly treks for everyone.

1. Cloudland Canyon
2. Tallulah Gorge
3. Providence Canyon State Park

Top Waterfall Hikes in Georgia

Have waterfall, will hike. That’s the mantra for waterfall chasers all across the country; and luckily for those living in the South, there are some truly extraordinary waterfall hikes, seemingly around each and every forest trail and riverbend!

Georgia’s waterfalls are plentiful, resplendent, and incredibly varied, ranging from the commanding Amicalola Falls to the smaller cascades of the aptly-named Sweetwater Creek.

Read more  11+ Easy Hikes In Glacier National Park (Photos, Maps, and Trail Details)

With literally hundreds of waterfalls all over the state (33 in Rabun County alone!), finding the top waterfall hikes in Georgia was no easy feat, but we believe the following certainly qualify.

5. Amicalola Falls
6. Tallulah Falls
7. Long Creek Falls

Scenic Mountain Hikes in Georgia

While Georgia is most often associated with its stunning shorelines and marshlands, the state’s majestic mountains are not to be missed (and quite literally impossible to miss, as the state is home to over 2,600 different peaks!).

So when it comes to scenic mountain hikes in Georgia, you have options – and lots of them!

7. Blood Mountain
8. Bell Mountain
9. Grassy Mountain

Easy Hikes in Georgia

You don’t have to be an advanced hiker to hit the trails in Georgia.

Many of the state’s most marvelous natural wonders are easily accessible via short, sweet, and super scenic trails.

Whether you’re a beginning waterfall chaser or simply chasing after your kids, the following are some of the best easy hikes in Georgia that anyone can enjoy.

10. Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail
11. Lake Trahlyta
12. Dungeness Loop Trail

Best Day Hikes in Georgia

When you have an afternoon to spare and are looking for an immersive escape in Georgia’s glorious wilderness, it’s time to tackle one of the state’s numerous superlative day hikes.

Whether you’re into waterfall chasing or epic birding, a heart-pumping trek or leisurely trail that leads to your very own oasis, the following are some of the best day hikes in Georgia for your bucket list.

13. Panther Creek Falls
14. End of the World Falls
15. Cannon’s Point

Hardest Hikes in Georgia

Hiking is quite literally about the journey… not a destination.

Not only is this true of the trails one traverses, but also the hobby itself. Hiking is a pastime that lasts a lifetime, with new trails, adventures, and challenges always on the horizon.

For those looking for a bucket-list-worthy accomplishment, the following are what we consider to be the hardest day hikes in Georgia – but boy, are they worth it.

16. Springer Mountain
17. Mount Yonah Trail
18. Brasstown Bald

Best Hiking Trails Near Atlanta

With well over half a million residents, Atlanta is easily the biggest and most bustling metropolis in Georgia (and one of the largest in the American South), but it’s also an incredibly green city that’s full of amazing opportunities to escape into the wondrous wilds of the Peach State.

From beloved state parks to hidden oases, nature lovers have a lot to celebrate in Atlanta, Georgia.

Don’t believe us? Here are the best hiking trails near Atlanta, perfect for a sweet escape from the city:

19. East Palisades Trail
20. Indian Seats Trail
21. Doll’s Head Trail

Overnight Camping Hikes In Georgia

The Peach State is a dark horse in terms of beautiful campgrounds, with its 50 unique state parks offering some of the most superlative camping in the U.S.

So for intrepid explorers looking to extend their adventure into the night, there are numerous options for overnight camping hikes in Georgia sure to scratch that itch!

22. Arkaquah Trail
23. Pine Mountain Moonlite Hike


There’s no better way to revel in the resplendence of than to immerse yourself in it, out on the trails. And while Georgia might not be the first place that comes to mind for epic hiking, the Peach State is, in fact, home to some of the most serene and scenic trails in this beautiful country of ours.

So lace up your boots and get ready for a bucket-list adventure, whether it’s one mile or 12, out on one (or many!) of these best hiking trails in Georgia.

Best Hiking Trails in Georgia – Interactive Map

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.

— Update: 03-01-2023 — found an additional article The 30 Best Hiking Trails in North Georgia Bucket List from the website for the keyword best day hikes in georgia.

[Updated March 26, 2022]

From the soaring summits of Blood Mountain and Brasstown Bald to the cascades of enchanting waterfalls like Anna Ruby and Amicalola, there’s no shortage of impressive natural attractions and things to do in North Georgia.

The terrain of the state’s dynamic Blue Ridge Mountains are filled with beauty and plenty of history. Thanks to an incredible network of trails, it can all be accessed relatively easy by hikers of varying abilities.

But with so much picture-perfect acreage to explore, it can be difficult to narrow down which adventures to tackle. To that end, we’ve compiled a bucket list featuring 30 of the best hiking trails in North Georgia. 

We’ve also divided them into three levels of difficulty (easy, moderate, and strenuous) and highlighted some of the things that make each trail unique.

Hopefully our staff picks will inspire you to grab your hiking boots and get out to explore our gorgeous North Georgia mountains!


Best Hiking Trails in North Georgia Guide

  1. Preacher’s Rock
  2. Toccoa Swinging Bridge
  3. Tennessee Rock Trail at Black Rock Mountain State Park
  4. Brasstown Bald
  5. Minnehaha Falls
  6. Hemlock Falls at Moccasin Creek State Park
  7. Anna Ruby Falls
  8. Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail
  9. Sea Creek Falls
  10. Sosebee Cove
  11. Lula Lake Land Trust
  12. West Rim & Waterfalls Trail at Cloudland Canyon State Park
  13. Sliding Rock Trail at Tallulah Gorge State Park
  14. Rabun Bald
  15. Amicalola Falls Loop Trail
  16. Indian Seats
  17. Woody Gap to Big Cedar Mountain
  18. Raven Cliff Falls
  19. Fort Mountain Stone Tower/Summit Trail
  20. Ramrock Mountain
  21. Yonah Mountain
  22. Appalachian Trail: 3 Forks to Springer Mountain
  23. Blood Mountain Loop
  24. Smith Creek Trail at Unicoi State Park
  25. Coosa Backcountry Trail at Vogel State Park
  26. Panther Creek Falls
  27. Lower Conasauga River Trail
  28. Emery Creek Falls
  29. Bartram Trail from Sandy Ford to Warwoman Dell
  30. Dicks Creek Gap to Powell Mountain


Easy Hiking Trails in North Georgia

Best day hikes in georgia
Preachers Rock on the Appalachian Trail, by Tim Corradino via CC By 2.0

1. Preachers Rock (Suches, GA)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 439 feet

Located just an hour and a half north of Atlanta, this hike is perfect for those looking to escape the city and spend some time exploring nature.

At just under two miles, the hike is relatively easy. Its moderate elevation and stunning sights make it one of the most popular day hikes on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia.

For its short length, the Preachers Rock trail has no shortage of magnificent views. Some of them can be seen even before you embark on the hike from the trailhead at Woody Gap.

You’ll pass several stunning overlooks before reaching the main attraction, Preachers Rock, a large rock outcrop that offers expansive views near the summit of Big Cedar Mountain.

On a clear day, you can even spot Dockery Lake in the valley below!

Best day hikes in georgia
Toccoa Swinging Bridge by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

2. Toccoa Swinging Bridge (Blue Ridge, GA)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 118 feet

The Toccoa Swinging Bridge was built by the USDA Forest Service and the Appalachian Trail Club in 1977.

At 270 feet long, it’s the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River and one of the best things to do in Blue Ridge, GA.

Located on the Benton Mackaye Trail and Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail, the bridge swings over the Toccoa River and offers plenty of picturesque scenery along the route.

The shortest trail is just under a mile and is perfect for small children, as there’s plenty of spots where you can stop to relax or have a picnic along the way.

You can also get down to the water to splash around and cool off on hot summer days. 

For a longer hiking trail in North Georgia, you can continue on the Benton Mackaye Trail after you cross the bridge and explore more of the surrounding area.

Best day hikes in georgia
Sunset seen from the Tennessee Rock Trail by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

3. Tennessee Rock Trail at Black Rock Mountain State Park (Mountain City, GA)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 561 feet

Located in Black Rock Mountain State Park (Georgia’s highest elevation park), the Tennessee Rock Trail is the park’s most popular hike, offering stunning sights from start to finish.

The easy to moderate hike explores a forest filled with boulders and beautiful scenery, which is especially captivating when colorful North GA wildflowers bloom along the path each spring. 

Reaching the summit of Black Rock Mountain is definitely a noteworthy point, but the truly breathtaking views come a little further along the hike at the Tennessee Rock overlook.

The rolling hills of Northeast Georgia seem endless here, and you can even spot the summits of Albert Mountain and Pickens Nose Mountain in North Carolina.

This is also a great hike for dogs but remember to keep them on a leash at all times.

Best day hikes in georgia
Brasstown Bald by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

4. Brasstown Bald (Hiawassee, GA)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 426 feet

At 4,784 feet, Brasstown Bald is Georgia’s highest summit. With the incredible views from the observation area at the top, it’s also understandably one of Georgia’s most popular best hikes.

While the hike up has a steady incline, it’s just over half a mile each way on a paved trail. So it’s not too difficult, making it a great hiking trail in North Georgia for families and dogs.

At the top there’s a huge viewing platform where you’ll find yourself immersed in breathtaking 360-degree views that span four states (Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina) on a clear day.

This place truly shows off the best of Georgia’s Blue Ridge region, with postcard-worthy sights of the classic misty hills the area is known for. 

Best day hikes in georgia
Minnehaha Falls by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

5. Minnehaha Falls (Tallulah Falls, GA)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 62 feet

While multi-day expeditions exploring dense forests may have its appeal to hardy hikers, sometimes it’s nice to go on a short, beautiful hike with a remarkable payoff at the end.

That’s precisely what the Minnehaha Falls trail offers, which is why it ranks among our favorite North Georgia hiking trails.

At just 0.4 miles round-trip, the hike is one of the easiest waterfall hikes in North Georgia. But it’s also incredibly rewarding, showcasing one of the most picturesque cascades in the area.

While the shallow pool at the base of the 60-foot falls isn’t deep enough to swim in, you can wade in the water and admire the gorgeous scenery. It offers exceptional ROI for a .4-mile hike!

Best day hikes in georgia
Hemlock Falls by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

6. Hemlock Falls Trail at Moccasin Creek State Park (Clarksville, GA)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 242 feet

If you like waterfalls with easy hiking trails, the Hemlock Falls Trail at Moccasin Creek State Park is an awesome adventure you won’t want to miss.

This is one of the most well-maintained hiking trails in North Georgia, leading to one of the most photogenic waterfalls in the state.

The trail follows Moccasin Creek upstream, leading you through a hardwood forest until you reach Hemlock Falls. Though the waterfall’s drop is just 15 feet, the width and power make it impressive.

The beautiful background– with massive rhododendron on top and large boulders down below– makes this a great place to relax for a while, enjoy a picnic, and soak in the serene scenery.

Also, don’t miss the second, smaller cascade in the bushes on the left just before you reach the main cascade at Hemlock Falls!

Best day hikes in georgia
Anna Ruby Falls by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

7. Anna Ruby Falls (Helen, GA)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 219 feet

The Anna Ruby Falls Trail guides you through one of the many gorgeous hiking trails in the Chattahoochee National Forest to a rare pair of side-by-side waterfalls, which are formed at the junction of Curtis Creek and York Creek. 

Starting at the Anna Ruby Falls Visitor Center, the path to the falls is entirely paved. And at less than a mile round-trip, it ranks among the easiest waterfall hikes in Georgia.

The peaceful stroll follows a rushing stream lined with patches of rhododendron, blooming wildflowers, granite boulders, and interpretive signs explaining the area’s history, geology, and wildlife.

Since the trail is relatively short, it’s a perfect excursion to pair with other outdoor activities, such as fishing, zip lining, visiting neighboring Unicoi State Park, or exploring the town of Helen GA.

Best day hikes in georgia
Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail, photo courtesy

8. Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail (Chickamauga, GA)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 144 feet

Considered by many as one of the best hikes in Georgia if you want to see wildflowers, this easy trail is part of an area known as “The Pocket.”

It’s dedicated in honor of Shirley Miller, an advocate for wildlife conservation and habitat acquisition. 

The trail is as easy as it is beautiful featuring a serene boardwalk, peaceful waterfall, and nearly 50 types of native Georgia wildflowers including Celandine Poppy, Star Chickweed, Wild Hyacinth, and Yellow Mandarin. 

Some articles will say this trail is on private property. But as long as you have bought a Hunting, Fishing, or Lands pass License (available online from the  Georgia Dept of Natural Resources website) you’re good to go!

Best day hikes in georgia
Sea Creek Falls in Suches, photo by Hope Cross

9. Sea Creek Falls (Suches, GA)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 32 feet

Located about an hour south of Blue Ridge, Sea Creek Falls is a beautiful 30-foot waterfall tucked away in the Coopers Creek Recreation Area of the Chattahoochee National Forest.

It can be reached by taking a quick half-mile, in-and-out trail, making it one of the easiest hiking trails to waterfalls in North Georgia.

The trail is well-marked and follows alongside its namesake creek. One thing to note is that this trail can get pretty muddy after heavy rains, so be sure to check the weather and/or wear good waterproof hiking shoes.

Before you know it you’ll reach Sea Creek Falls, where you can admire the sight of the water as it flows into a shallow, rock-filled pool.

It’s a popular spot to splash around in and cool off during the warmer months, but if you want to see the falls in all their glory visit in the late winter or spring. The water flow tends to be stronger during those times! 

Best day hikes in georgia
Showy Orchid in Sosebee Cove by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

10. Sosebee Cove Trail (Blairsville, GA)

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 55 feet

While this trail in Blairsville GA is less than half a mile long, it shouldn’t be discounted in terms of beauty, as it packs in plenty of scenery along the way.

Located in the Chattahoochee National Forest, the trail explores a 175-acre forest that is widely regarded as one of the best spots in North Georgia for wildflower viewing.

Some of the wildflowers commonly spotted along the trail in the spring and summer are White Trillium, Dutchman’s Breeches, Jack in the Pulpit, Solomon’s Seal, and a variety of native Georgia orchids.

The trail is also known for being a great wildlife viewing spot, with frequent sightings of white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, an array of beautiful Georgia birds, and even the occasional black bear!

Moderate Hiking in North Georgia

Best day hikes in georgia
Lula Lake Land Trust, photo via Georgia Conservancy

11. Lula Lake Land Trust (Lookout Mountain, GA)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 700 feet

The Lula Lake Land Trust was established in 1994, and is dedicated to preserving the Rock Creek Watershed through education, research, and other conservation efforts. 

The private property is home to over 8 miles of north Georgia hiking trails featuring beautiful hardwood forests, overlooks, and waterfalls.

The most popular hike, the Classic Loop, shows off the best the property has to offer including the emerald-colored Lula Lake, 120 foot tall Lula Falls, and a scenic overlook that extends across Northeast Georgia and Chattanooga.

If you’re into mountain biking there is also the Mountain Bike Loop which is 8.7 miles of more advanced terrain!

Since it is private property, Lula Lake is only open to the general public on the first and last weekends of the month. For visiting on other days reservations are required.

Best day hikes in georgia
West Rim waterfall viewed from Cloudland Canyon Overlook by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

12. Cloudland Canyon West Rim Loop & Waterfalls Trail (Rising Fawn, GA)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 5.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 731 feet

Encompassing 3,538 acres of dynamic terrain– lush woodlands, sandstone cliffs, and 1,000-foot-deep canyons– it’s no wonder Cloudland Canyon State Park should end up on a best Georgia hiking trails bucket list.

Read more  10 beautiful Georgia hikes to keep you busy in every season

The West Rim Loop and Waterfalls Trail are our picks here because they explore some of the park’s most breathtaking scenic views.

These include the boulder-filled canyon floor and the canyon’s western wall, where rock outcrops and overlooks offer spectacular sights stretching all the way to Lookout Mountain on the Tennessee border.

Also on this trail are two cascading North Georgia waterfalls: Cherokee Falls drops 60 feet into a crystalline pool, while Hemlock Falls plunges over 90 feet into the canyon floor. 

The hike to the falls does include quite a few stairs, so be prepared for a serious thighmaster challenge!

Best day hikes in georgia
Tallulah Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

13. Sliding Rock Trail at Tallulah Gorge State Park (Tallulah Falls, GA)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 820 feet

Easily one of the best hikes in north Georgia, the Sliding Rock Trail at Tallulah Gorge State Park explores the floor of the gorge– a 2-mile long, 1,000-feet deep canyon that was carved over centuries by the Tallulah River.

The hiking trail is just three miles round-trip. But because it’s made up almost completely of rocks and boulders, it offers quite the intense workout.

One of the highlights of this hike is getting an up-close view of the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls, which tumbles into a clear blue pool perfect for cooling off mid-hike.

Permits are required to embark on the adventure, and the park only allows 100 permits per day.

So visit during the week or get there as close to opening as possible on weekends if you want to get a pass!

Best day hikes in georgia
Rabun Bald Summit (center right) from Black Rock Mountain by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

14. Rabun Bald  (Clayton, GA)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 960 feet

Towering over the Appalachian range near the town of Clayton, Rabun Bald is the second tallest mountain in Georgia (after Brasstown Bald) at 4,695 feet.

As you could probably imagine, the views from the summit are nothing short of spectacular, and the hike there doesn’t disappoint either.

Following the Bartram Trail, the path immediately gains some pretty intense elevation, which makes it one of the more difficult “moderate” hikes on our list.

But there’s plenty of beautiful scenery to keep you motivated as you make your way through the rhododendron- filled forest. At the summit you’ll find a stone observation tower and jaw-dropping panoramic views. 

Look to the southwest and you can make out Black Rock Mountain, and to the northwest you can see the Standing Indian, Pickens Nose, and Albert mountains of North Carolina.

Best day hikes in georgia
Amicalola Falls by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

15. Amicalola Falls Loop Trail (Dawsonville, GA)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation Gain: 784 feet

Tucked away in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Amicalola Falls State Park is home to the tallest waterfall in the state and offers some of the best hiking trails in Georgia

Amicalola Falls tumbles over seven cascades with a total height of 729 feet, making it a stunning sight to behold.

The waterfalls are captivating in any season, but they’re especially beautiful in autumn, when the changing foliage provides a brilliant background of vibrant red, yellow, and orange hues.

There are multiple trails that give you access to the falls, including the wheelchair accessible West Ridge Falls Access Trail and the one-mile East Ridge Trail. But the most popular is the two-mile Amicalola Falls Loop Trail.

While it is still relatively short at just two miles, the elevation gain and number of stairs here makes this trail more of a moderate hike. Note that the metal grate stairs can be pretty difficult for some dogs.

Best day hikes in georgia
Indian Seats, photo courtesy Explore Georgia

16. Indian Seats Trail (Cumming, GA)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 479 feet

Located just 40 miles north of Atlanta, the Indian Seats Trail is part of a network of hiking trails that run through the Sawnee Mountain Preserve. It’s great for nature lovers and history buffs alike. 

The trail gets its name from the natural rock formation at the top of the trail, This is believed to be where Cherokee Indians would sit and meditate before they were forcefully removed by the Treaty of New Echota.

Along the way to the top (which has jaw-dropping views of the Georgia mountains), you’ll pass abandoned gold mines and interpretive signs you can read to learn more about the history of the area.

For more information about the area, stop at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve Visitor Center to see ancient Native American artifacts and learn about the flora and fauna you might see on the mountain.

Best day hikes in georgia
Appalachian Trail in Georgia at Woody Gap, photo by Thomson200 via CC-0

17. Appalachian Trail: Woody Gap to Big Cedar Mountain (Dahlonega, GA)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 600 feet

Situated in the Blood Mountain Wilderness portion of the Chattahoochee National Forest, Big Cedar Mountain is one of the must-see mountains of North Georgia. 

The summit can be accessed via a section of the Appalachian Trail starting at Woody Gap, which has multiple areas that are perfect for a pre- or post-hike picnic.

Entering into the dense forest, the trail follows the blazes of the Appalachian Trail through a series of steep switchbacks, eventually reaching the scenic landmark of Preachers Rock.

Staying on the Appalachian Trail past Preachers Rock, you’ll skim along the top of Big Cedar Mountain and be treated to some incredible long-range views of the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains.

Best day hikes in georgia
Raven Cliff Falls by Michael Gonyea via Heavy Nature Photos

18. Raven Cliff Falls (Helen, GA)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 400 feet

One of the best waterfalls near Helen GA, the journey to Raven Cliff Falls begins at a gravel trailhead and immediately begins to follow Dodd Creek upstream.

The path is incredibly beautiful, with towering hardwood trees surrounding you as the trail crosses several small streams lined with vibrantly colored wildflowers.

At just over a quarter of a mile, you’ll pass a campsite and a small swimming hole you can stop to splash around in. If you’re traveling with a furry companion, this may be their favorite spot!

The sound of the 40-foot falls will fill your ears before the cascades become visible at just over two miles in.

Here you can relax and enjoy the sights that make this another great waterfall hike in North Georgia!

Best day hikes in georgia
Cool Springs Overlook at Fort Mountain State Park near Ellijay GA by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

19. CCC Fire Tower Combination at Fort Mountain State Park (Chatsworth, GA)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 1 mile

Elevation Gain: 423 feet

This moderate 1-mile loop is arguably our favorite of the Fort Mountain State Park hiking trails, visiting three of the park’s most fascinating features. 

You’ll begin with an uphill hike on the West Overlook Trail, which offers jaw-dropping panoramas of the vast Cohutta Wilderness. In our opinion it ranks up there among the best North Georgia overlooks

From there, head east and climb to a 4-story stone tower built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a forest fire overlook. Used until the early ’60s, it was beautifully restored in 2014-2015. 

On your way back down the Stone Tower Trail, you’ll use stone steps that were built by the CCC. You’ll also pass the remnants of a mysterious stone wall built between 500 and 1500 AD.

Nobody knows who built the 885-foot wall. Some say it was the Cherokee people, others say it was early European settlers, while Appalachian folklore suggests it was an alien race known as “the Moon-Eyed People.”

Best day hikes in georgia
Ramrock Mountain, photo courtesy Colleen Goldhorn Photography

20. Ramrock Mountain (Suches, GA)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 600 feet

Located 16 miles north of Dahlonega GA, Ramrock Mountain is one of the most gorgeous mountains in Georgia and requires less than a 3-mile hike to the summit.

While that distance may seem like a walk in the park to some folks, there’s pretty intense elevation gain along the way to earn this picturesque trail a moderate rating.

The hike starts at Woody Gap and immediately follows the Appalachian Trail south through stone steps and large boulders.

You’ll reach a 4-way split, where you’ll go left to find a short trail that will take you to the most spectacular views Ramrock Mountain has to offer.

At the summit, you’ll be gifted with breathtaking views of the rolling mountains on the horizon.

Strenuous Hikes in North Georgia

Best day hikes in georgia
The striking summit of Yonah Mountain

21. Yonah Mountain Trail (Cleveland, GA)

Level of difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 4.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,489 feet

Situated between the Blue Ridge mountain towns of Cleveland and Helen, Yonah Mountain rises from the southern Appalachians and offers one of the best hikes in North Georgia.

While the beloved hiking trail is just over 4 miles, it’s incredibly steep and has an intense elevation gain that doesn’t let up until you reach the summit.

But with the breathtaking panoramic views at the top, experienced hikers would argue that exploring the Yonah Mountain Trail is a must.

In the spring, the hike features a bountiful array of wildflowers, including various species of Trillium, Rhododendron, and Violets. In autumn, the summit provides exceptional views of the changing colors. 

This trail is also perfect for hikers who want a multi-day trip, as there are plenty of backcountry campsites available along the way.

Best day hikes in georgia
Mountain Crossings on the Appalachian Trail

22. Appalachian Trail: 3 Forks to Springer Mountain (Ellijay, GA)

Level of difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 8.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,525 feet

Traversing 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia north to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is one of the most famous and popular hiking trails in the world. 

Doing a 5- to 7-month thru-hike of the entire trail isn’t possible (or recommended) for most nature lovers. But the 3 Forks to Springer Mountain trail offers a great taste of the AT’s southernmost blaze.

This 8.6-mile hike follows the Appalachian Trail’s gorgeous final stretch in Georgia, with the end commemorated by a bronze plaque.

The strenuous hike is perfect for a day trip, exploring a diverse landscape that includes several creeks (Chester Creek, Stover Creek, and Davis Creek) and offers incredible views from the summit of Springer Mountain.

The 10 Best Things to Do in Ellijay GA & Gilmer County

Best day hikes in georgia
Blood Mountain view framed by foliage, photo by Hope Cross

23. Blood Mountain Loop (Blairsville, GA)

Level of difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,555 feet

One of the most popular and tallest mountains in North Georgia, this Blood Mountain trail is a favorite among many hikers because of its varied terrain and heart-stopping summit views.

The hike begins on the Byron Reece Trail and merges with the Appalachian Trail going westbound, immediately gaining elevation.

Along with the intense climb, this trail can get pretty rugged at times, making the hike even more strenuous. But the increasingly beautiful sights of the Chattahoochee National Forest are sure to keep you motivated. 

A little over 2 miles into the hike you’ll reach a massive rock outcrop that offers exceptional views of the surrounding area from Blood Mountain’s summit.

There’s also a historic stone shelter that offers accommodations for hikers tackling the Appalachian Trail.

Best day hikes in georgia
The Smith Creek Trail to Anna Ruby Falls

24. Smith Creek Trail at Unicoi State Park (Helen, GA)

Level of difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 8.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,663 feet

Starting at Unicoi State Park and making its way to the captivating Anna Ruby Falls, Smith Creek Trail is one of the longest and most uncrowded North Georgia waterfall hikes.

While there are no dramatic mountaintop views here, the trail is packed full of pristine flora and fauna. So it’s perfect for nature lovers looking to be immersed in the serene beauty of the North Georgia forest. 

At 8.4 miles the hike is rather long, and you may find yourself climbing over a few fallen trees or working through overgrown sections.

But the sights along Smith Creek and the reward of Anna Ruby Falls at the end makes it well worth your efforts.

Originating atop Tray Mountain, the glistening waterfall is made up of two mountain streams coming together.

Curtis Creek drops 153 feet and York Creek drops 50 feet, merging to form Smith Creek, which eventually flows into Unicoi Lake.

Best day hikes in georgia
Blood Mountain viewed from Vogel State Park, photo by Rachael Seeley

25. Coosa Backcountry Trail at Vogel State Park (Blairsville, GA)

Level of difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 12.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,628 feet

If you’re looking for a challenge and are willing to face some tough terrain, the Coosa Backcountry Trail is widely considered one of North Georgia’s best hiking trails.

Starting at Vogel State Park in Blairsville, the trail gradually ascends into the dense Chattahoochee National Forest, crossing over a few creeks before entering the Blood Mountain Wilderness Area. 

The trail is in really good condition and there are several campsites along the way, which makes it perfect for backpackers who are looking for an overnight trail.

But it also offers some serious elevation gain, giving you that rewarding sense of accomplishment once you reach the end. Plus, the Coosa Backcountry Trail is pretty secluded, so it’s rare to encounter other hikers!

Best day hikes in georgia
“Panther Creek Waterfall” by gapeppy1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

26. Panther Creek Falls Trail (Clarksville, GA)

Level of difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 6.9 miles

Elevation Gain: Less than 800 feet

(NOTE: As of March 26, 2022, this trail remains temporarily closed due to damage caused by storms in 2020. Please check the official US Forest Service website to find out the trail’s status before visiting.)

The Panther Creek Falls trail follows a scenic stretch of the Chattahoochee National Forest to one of the most popular and beautiful waterfalls in Georgia.

Dotted along the route are campsites that are open on a first-come, first-served basis, which make the hike a great option for overnight backpacking trips.

The highlight of the adventure are the falls at the end of the nearly 7-mile hike, which drop in multi-tiered cascades into a sparkling pool below.

You can swim and cool off in the water, which makes this waterfall trail a huge hit in the summertime. There’s also a sandy beach area that’s great for picnics, or just relaxing and enjoying the scenery.

Best day hikes in georgia
Conasauga River, photo via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

27. Lower Conasauga River Trail (Ellijay, GA)

Level of difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 13.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet

The Cohutta Wilderness is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, and has some of the most exhilarating biking trails in Georgia.

The Lower Conasauga River Trail is the second longest trail within the wilderness area, offering an intense adventure that should be reserved for more experienced hikers.

Entering the wilderness from Betty Gap near the headwaters of the Conasauga River, the trail is definitely a challenging feat to accomplish.

It has 18 river crossings (so it is guaranteed that at some point you’ll get wet) and plenty of boulders and fallen trees you’ll have to maneuver around.

While the hike is long and strenuous, there are plenty of campsites to stop at along the way, which many hikers tend to take advantage of!

Best day hikes in georgia
Emery Creek Falls in North Georgia, photo by Jeff Moore via CC BY-NC 2.0 

28. Emery Creek Falls (Ellijay, GA)

Level of difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 6.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 900 feet

While the Emery Creek Falls Trail is one of the more difficult waterfall hikes in GA, the payoff is multiple fantastic viewpoints of the waterfall’s enchanting double cascades.

Located near the Ellijay (best known for its apple-picking opportunities), this hiking trail makes you feel as though you’re a million miles away as you explore the vast southern section of the Cohutta Wilderness.

Considering there are 20 creek crossings along the way, it’s perfect for a summertime adventure. As you follow the trail through lush deciduous forest, there are several trailside campsites where you can stop at for a rest.

Because of the slippery creek beds and the fact that the trail isn’t clearly marked, we would only recommend this trail for more experienced hikers. But if you’re up for the challenge, it will be an experience you won’t forget!

Best day hikes in georgia
Warwoman Dell Nature Trail in Clayton, GA by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

29. Bartram Trail from Sandy Ford to Warwoman Dell (Clayton, GA)

Level of difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 9.3 miles

Elevation Gain: More than 1000 feet

Following the path explorer William Bartram took in the late 18th century as he documented over 100 new species of flora and fauna, the Bartram Trail covers 114 miles in Western North Carolina and North Georgia.

Read more  The 30 Best Hiking Trails in North Georgia Bucket List

In Georgia, there’s a 35-mile stretch of the trail that travels through some of the state’s most beautiful forests, waterfalls, and peaks.

For our ultimate hiking bucket list we’ve picked a 9.3-mile section of the trail that runs from Sandy Ford to Warwoman Dell. It features many campsites, and is perfect for a multi-day backpacking adventure.

When you make it to Warwoman Dell, be sure to explore the area. There’s a sheltered picnic area, a valley that blooms with wildflowers in the spring, and several small waterfalls hidden throughout!  

Best day hikes in georgia
View from Powell Mountain, photo courtesy

30. Dicks Creek Gap to Powell Mountain (Hiawassee, GA)

Level of difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 5.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,025 feet

Offering a more secluded hiking experience than some of the trails on this list, the trek to the summit of Powell Mountain explores a lush forest of towering hardwoods before showcasing far-flung scenic vistas.

The adventure begins at the Dicks Creek Gap trailhead in Hiawassee and follows the Appalachian Trail southbound. The trail will climb some pretty intense elevation before crossing a small waterfall and shallow creek.

After continuing through McClure Gap, the hike leaves the AT and enters a clearing that reveals the spectacular beauty of North Georgia in all its splendor.

The views here are typically so clear, you can even spot Lake Seed, Lake Burton, and Lake Rabun (three of our favorite mountain lakes in Georgia).

When you’re ready to complete the hike, the route simply reverses back to the trailhead.  by Christina Maggitas; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett  unless otherwise noted

— Update: 04-01-2023 — found an additional article 10 beautiful Georgia hikes to keep you busy in every season from the website for the keyword best day hikes in georgia.

If you picture Georgia as peach groves and coastal swamps, you’re only getting half the picture.

The largest state east of the Mississippi River climbs to Appalachian heights in the north, where wild forested hills of Southern terrain are crisscrossed by incredible hikes that rival anything in neighboring North Carolina or more famous outdoorsy destinations such as New Hampshire and Vermont. 

Best of all, with its mild climate, Georgia is open to hikers year-round. Spring and fall are famously lovely months for hitting the trail, but even in the depths of winter you can walk for miles at lower elevations without getting too frosty. Mountain-top vistas get even more impressive when the deciduous trees that dominate Georgia’s forests drop their leaves. 

From the southern terminus of the legendary Appalachian Trail to spectacular waterfalls crashing into pools ringed by rhododendrons, from under-the-radar thru-hikes like the Pinhoti Trail to unexpected canyons carved by centuries of erosion, the Peach State is full of surprises. 

Pet parents will also find much to love: dogs that are leashed (no longer than 6ft) and accompanied by their owner are permitted on trails at all Georgia state parks (with the exception of Tallulah Gorge and Panola Mountain).

So lace up your hiking boots and grab your trekking poles: from challenging trails with technical features to short day hikes easily accessible to families and hikers with disabilities, we’ve hand-picked some of the best hikes in Georgia. 

The Pinhoti Trail: best hike for backpackers and thru-hikers

160+ miles (257+km) one-way in Georgia; 2–3 weeks; moderate to strenuous

Springer Mountain wasn’t originally intended to be the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Benton MacKaye, the conservationist who came up with the idea for this continent-long thru-hike, imagined the trail would run the entire length of the Appalachian Mountains, including the rolling foothills that extend into portions of Georgia and Alabama.

Work began in the 1970s to blaze the Pinhoti Trail, covering the southern spurs left off the official Appalachian Trail, but it was only in the early years of the current millennium that the 160-mile pathway was completed and opened to hikers. 

Today, Pinhoti is a destination hike in its own right and a good training ground for hikers headed further north on the Appalachian Trail. Some come for day hikes, but you can also make a long-haul backpacking trip by following the trail across Georgia from the Alabama state line near Etna to the northern terminus at Flagg Mountain, near Epworth.

Pinhoti is the Creek Indian word for “turkey’s home,” and diamond-shaped white tags along the trail are emblazoned with a print of a turkey foot. Rectangular white blazes also mark the trail in Georgia. The full length of the trail across Alabama and Georgia is about 355 miles.

Quiet forests envelop hikers in the Georgia hills © Chris Wilson / iStockphoto / Getty Images

Blood Mountain: best hike for scenic views 

4.3 miles (6.9km) roundtrip; 3 hours; strenuous

Despite the sinister-sounding name, the trek to the summit of 4458ft Blood Mountain is one of the most rewarding hikes in all of Georgia. This is the highest point on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail, with a peak that opens up to inspiring panoramic vistas (in contrast to the many other mountain trails in Appalachia that climb to anticlimactic high points hemmed in by dense foliage). 

Pick up last-minute supplies at the legendary Mountain Crossings general store, then start your climb at the Byron Reece trailhead near Neels Gap. You can follow the blue blazes to the intersection with the Appalachian Trail at Flat Rock Gap, then the white blazes to the summit. You’ll know you're getting close to the top when the trees give way to a series of stony open areas that hint at the views to come.

Keep your glutes firing until you reach the big stone shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps almost a century ago, where Appalachian Trail hikers still rest up overnight. 

You can scramble up the boulders behind the shelter for the best summit views and a bite to eat. (There’s a reason it's called Picnic Rock.) To keep the location pristine, look for an outhouse further down the trail and downhill from the shelter. 

If you don't want to backtrack, you can turn your Blood Mountain hike into a 6-mile loop by continuing along the Appalachian Trail until you run into the Freeman Trail partway down the mountain. The path juts off to a sharp left and brings you back to the Byron Reece trailhead at a lower elevation.

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Trillium blossoms in the Pigeon Mountain Pocket © Meghan O’Dea / Lonely Planet

Pigeon Mountain Pocket: best hike for outdoors folks with disabilities 

.9 miles (1.4km) roundtrip; easy; 1 hour

If you're looking for wildflowers and waterfalls, it’s hard to beat this off-the-beaten-path walk in northwest Georgia. Tucked at the foot of Pigeon Mountain is a tiny jewel box of biodiversity. The trail features level boardwalks that float just above a sea of bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches, trillium, Virginia bluebells and star chickweed.

Reached via the accessible, open-all-year Shirley Miller Wildflower Trail, this lovely patch of woodland is typically in bloom from March through May, though it’s pretty any time of year thanks to the bubbling Pocket Branch creek and the lovely, two-pronged cascade that splashes down from Pigeon Mountain. 

Where the walkway ends, a trail leads to the base of the falls, though it’s fairly rocky, rooty and muddy; be careful to stay on the trail to protect the vegetation that makes this place so unique. And if you don’t mind getting wet, go all the way up behind the falls to peek at the arch-shaped passage in the rock behind the right-most cascade.

You’ll need to purchase a Go Outdoors Georgia hunting, fishing or lands pass license to explore the grounds. According to staff, the best license for hikers is the 1-day hunting-and-fishing combo, which is $5 for Georgia residents and $10 for non-residents. 

You can take in Amicalola Falls from several vantage points, depending on how you feel about stairs © Kelly vanDellen / Shutterstock

Amicalola Falls: best hike for families

2.1-mile (3.4km) loop; moderate to strenuous; 1–2 hours

Tennessee has Fall Creek Falls, Oregon has Multnomah Falls, Washington has Snoqualmie Falls and Georgia has 729ft-tall Amicalola – the tallest cascade in the state. 

Just north of Dawsonville, Amicalola Falls State Park not only boasts a waterfall but a popular lodge, restaurant and conference center, along with plenty of campsites and hiking trails (including a spur that connects to the Appalachian Trail). The park is about a 90-minute drive from Atlanta.

Hikers can get a close-up look at the falls on several trails, ranging from less than half a mile to just over 2 miles. The shortest is the West Ridge Trail, an ADA-accessible path that leads to the middle of the cascade and connects to two other paths offering views of Amicalola from above and below. 

On the 2.1-mile loop hike, after kicking off beneath a stone archway behind the visitor center, you’ll have to conquer 604 steps to reach a viewing platform where you can see the falls from halfway up. The loop begins on the Appalachian Approach Trail, which climbs past the falls on its 8.5-mile run to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail atop Springer Mountain. 

From the top of the falls, continue on the East Ridge Trail, which drops back to the visitor center parking lot. If you’d prefer to descend on the steps, begin this hike on the East Ridge Trail.

Cloudland Canyon: best hike for leaf peepers  

5-mile (8km) loop; moderate to strenuous; 3–3 1/2 hours

Protected as a state park, Cloudland Canyon formed millions of years ago as Sitton Gulch Creek cut through the western edge of Lookout Mountain. Today, it’s full of lovely hiking trails and camping spots and is easily accessible from Chattanooga and Atlanta. What sets the park apart is the way the forested canyon shimmers in a fiery blaze of color every autumn. Check the park calendar for foliage hikes along the East Rim and the Georgia state park system’s Leaf Watch for updates about fall colors.

Some of the best vantage points are on the West Rim Loop Trail, a moderate to challenging 5-mile lollipop loop that takes trekkers up out of the gorge to the edge of the canyon. 

You’ll pass through stands of rhododendrons and boulder fields, with plenty of overlooks gazing down on views that are just begging to be Instagrammed. It’s easy to turn this day hike into an overnight trip, as the trail passes the park’s yurt village, rental cottages and campgrounds. 

You can combine the West Rim Loop with the Waterfalls trail to see Cloudland’s famous Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls. This strenuous hike to the base of the gorge and back only covers 1.8 miles but involves a climb back up 600 metal stairs. 

The suspension bridge over Hurricane Falls at Tallulah Gorge is worthy of an Indiana Jones movie © JayL / Shutterstock

Tallulah Gorge: best hike for photographers 

2-mile (3.2km) loop; strenuous; 2 hours

In the far northeastern corner of Georgia – about 100 minutes from Atlanta or 3 hours from Chattanooga – Tallulah Gorge is one of the state’s Seven Natural Wonders. Hikers can view the gorge’s natural delights up close on the gorgeous but strenuous Hurricane Falls Trail Loop, which links some of Georgia’s prettiest waterfalls, including L’Eau d’Or, Tempesta and Hurricane.

On a 2-mile round trip hike to the base of Hurricane Falls, you’ll follow the rim of this water-carved gorge, then descend to its bottom, even crossing an exhilarating suspension bridge that wouldn’t look out of place in an Indiana Jones flick. (In fact, this area does have a movie pedigree: several scenes from Deliverance were filmed here.)

There are 10 overlooks along the Hurricane Falls Loop, along with over a thousand heart-pounding stairs that will leave your quads shaking. But it’s all worth it for the classic Georgia hills scenery. 

The 14 best free things to do in Georgia 

Len Foote Hike Inn: best hike to see the sunrise 

10 miles (16km) roundtrip; moderate; 2 to 4 hours

If you like the idea of backcountry hiking – except for the part where you schlep with days worth of food and sleep in rugged discomfort – try this famous hike that falls somewhere between backpacking and glamping. True to its name, the Len Foote Hike Inn in the Chattahoochee National Forest is only reachable via a 5-mile hike that takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.

Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted with rustic hospitality in the form of 20 private bunk rooms, hot showers, family-style meals, a library stocked with board games and puzzles, and lots of cozy nooks where you can curl up in an Adirondack chair and take in the backcountry mood. 

Spectacular sunrises are the specialty of the lodge, which sits on a mountain ridge with a clear view east. A soft drum beat awakens guests 30 minutes before dawn, which gives them time to assemble on the viewing deck to watch the day begin.

Some hikers choose to pair a multi-night stay at the lodge with a trek to Springer Mountain, reached via a 9-mile round trip. 

Providence Canyon was created when farmers dug ditches in the soft, sedimentary soil, that later eroded into colorful canyons © Alamy Stock Photo

Providence Canyon: best hike for geology fans

2.5-mile (4km) loop, easy to moderate, 2 to 3 hours

Here, Georgia’s famous red dirt is transformed into an eerie canyon. Unsustainable farming practices over a century ago were responsible for creating the Peach State’s “Little Grand Canyon”: ditches cut by farmers into the soft soil were carved deeper by erosion, creating the intriguing gullies and gulches you’ll see today. 

To explore, head to the easy-to-moderate Canyon Loop Trail, a 2.5-mile path that offers grand views down into the canyons numbered 1 to 9. 

You can add another mile or two if you walk down into the canyons (but be ready for mud if you do, as the canyon floor tends to get quite soggy). There’s a 7-mile backcountry trail leading to primitive campsites and views of additional canyons for a gnarlier outing that’s both strenuous and technical.  

The beautiful views at Anna Ruby Falls in Helen, Georgia, USA © Alamy Stock Photo

Anna Ruby Falls: best hike for waterfalls 

From .2 miles (.32km) roundtrip; easy; from 20 min

Twin waterfalls cascade through the foliage at Anna Ruby Falls, which is tucked away in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests near charming Helen, Georgia. 

The Anna Ruby Falls Trail is a smooth half-mile path from the parking lot to a pair of viewing decks, offering a good option for families and others who prefer to keep things short and easy. Though paved, this approach trail is not fully accessible as there are moderate inclines at a few points. 

For a longer hike, try the Smith Creek Trail, a 9-mile round-trip trek through Unicoi State Park that ends at Anna Ruby Falls following a path originally blazed by early gold miners. Although it does not reach the falls, the paved Lion’s Eye Trail is punctuated with signage in braille about the surrounding landscape, with a handrail to guide visitors with visual impairments. 

Appalachian Trail: best for sections and day hikes 

78 miles (125.5km) one-way; moderate to strenuous; 8 days

Only 78 miles of the Appalachian Trail’s 2200 miles are in Georgia – but they’re pretty essential miles, connecting to the hike’s southern terminus atop 3780ft Springer Mountain. 

They’re also incredibly scenic, straining up and down the stunning summits of Springer Mountain, Blood Mountain and Tray Mountain. Hike to the summit of Springer for fantastic views of the Appalachian’s fall foliage, typically from mid-to-late October,

Of course, you can hike all or parts of the Appalachian Trail all the way up to Maine. But you can also break up Georgia’s portion of the trail into a series of enjoyable day hikes or shorter backpacking trips linking major landmarks such as Woody Gap, Slaughter Mountain, Neels Gap, Gooch Mountain, Tesnatee Gap and Hogpen Gap. 

If you want to pick up a map and get some advice, chat with the experts at well-regarded outfitter Mountain Crossings. The parking lot is a meeting point for both hikers and leather-clad bikers.

You might also like: 
9 common mistakes to avoid while hiking and camping 
7 expert tips for tackling your first multi-day hike 
How one first-time hiker conquered the Appalachian Trail


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