Hiking the Appalachian Trail to Blood Mountain, Georgia

I was able to go into work early on Wednesday in order to get off at 3 PM to drive to Neels Gap where the Southern Appalachian Trail crosses US Highway 19/129. It's about a 1.5 hour drive from Chatsworth, Georgia. Neels Gap is about 13 miles South of Blairsville. My plan was to park in the Walasi-Yi parking lot (with permission) and hike 2 steep miles along the Appalachian Trail to the summit of Blood Mountain and back. The 4 mile round-trip gains 1,400 feet of elevation on the way to the summit at 4,458 feet. Blood Mountain is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and the sixth-tallest mountain in the state. Like on many of my adventures this year, the weather was not very cooperative. The mountain was completely socked in with fog and light rain. It was, however, relatively warm at about 50°F.

I made it to the Walasi-Yi store just before 5 PM. I went in to request permission to park in their lot for an hour or two. The gentleman working graciously gave permission since it was mid-week and they were closing soon. Normally they do not allow hikers to park in their lot as there is a designated lot about 1/2 mile North with a spur trail that joins the Appalachian Trail. As I had never been on the Appalachian Trail before, I was happy to be able to hike my entire trip on it thanks to the Walasi-Yi store.

My hike began across the road from the store where a warning sign cautioned against parking in the store lot. The trail immediately started to climb through a bare oak forest with a few pine interspersed. Spring had yet to come to the higher elevations in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The trail was well-marked with painted white rectangles on the trees.

Sign at Walasi-Yi Store near Appalachian Trail     Well Marked Appalachian Trail to Blood Mountain in Early Spring

As the trail continued to climb, I came across several rock formations. The landscape was otherwise smooth and covered with topsoil much of the way until I reached the switchbacks leading to the summit.

Cracked Rock Formation on the Side of the Trail     Rock Outcrop near the Trail

Above the switchbacks, there were several long stretches of the trail that took me over exposed bedrock. One spot near the summit was fairly steep and slippery with the light rain fall. Painted white rectangles on the bedrock marked the way.

Rock Slab Portion of Trail to Blood Mountain     White Trail Marker Showing the Way Up a Rock Face

Once at the summit, I could imagine the view of the surrounding mountains and valleys below. Unfortunately, imagination would have to suffice on this trip, as the fog showed no signs of lifting. It took me about 50 minutes to get to the top with several stops along the way to take pictures. It was steeper than I had anticipated and my muscles ached while I pushed them at a brisk pace to the summit. I took a few more photos before grabbing half of my sandwich to eat on the hike down. The weather didn't warrant a long break and I hoped to get back to my hotel before dark.

Foggy View from Near the Summit of Blood Mountain     Jason on Top of Blood Mountain Summit

The trip down was much quicker, due in part to the fact that I ran half the distance. I used my trekking poles to catapult over rocks and mud pits in the trail. After about 25 minutes, I was back at my car, sweating from the run down. I didn't see a single person on my trip. I suppose the weather scared off any would-be day hikers. This was one of the few trips I have worn my jacket the entire hike. I had a fun adventure and look forward to returning in the future to explore more of the Appalachian Trail.


Post new comment

Disclaimer: You are responsible for informing yourself of the hazards of backcountry travel and taking the necessary precautions. Loomis Adventures may not be held liable.