Top 5 Places to Hike Around Young Harris, GA

Above photo by Trent Sizemore

My name is Callie Stevens and a senior Outdoor Leadership major at Young Harris College. I have over six years of experience of backpacking and camping and have led more than 25 trips into the wilderness. I have created a list of the top five places around YHC to go hiking. We are lucky enough to be surrounded by the North Georgia mountains which provides an abundance of opportunities to experience nature. One of the best ways to do this is hiking. So please use this list – or talk to returning students who know the area – and get out there and explore the YHC beauty.

Brasstown Bald

The hike up to Brasstown Bald is a must do for all YHC students. There are two very different trails, one is only .5 miles long and starts near the top of the mountain, and one starts at campus and makes its way up the north side of the mountain. The shorter Summit Trail starts at the Brasstown Bald parking lot; in order to get there one has to drive from school up the mountain which takes nearly 30 minutes. The .5 mile trail is long and paved, with a moderate difficulty rating (all trails are assigned a difficulty rating, see table below). Someone looking for a harder trail might take Wagon Train Trail. It is much longer than Summit Trial with a 5.6-mile hike that is also moderate difficult. This trail is easy to access because is starts behind East Appleby on Bald Mountain Road. Both trails offer chance to stand at the highest point in Georgia. On the top of the Bald is an observation platform where you can see 360 degrees for miles (even to Atlanta on clear, smogless days).  Each hike has its own advantages and the end result for both is the breathtaking view atop the Bald, which essential for all YHC students to experience.

High Shoals Trail

High Shoals is located on Trey Mountain between Hiawassee and Helen on Forestry Road 283. To get to the start of the trail one has to cross a small creek with their vehicle on the forestry road, so be prepared if in a small car. The trail is a little over 30 minutes away from school. High Shoals is a moderate 1.2 mile hike down to a series of five waterfalls. The largest waterfall is over 100 feet tall. The waterfalls are even more dazzling after periods of heavy rain. The trial curls its way down the High Shoals Valley and is steep in some spots, but steps have been built in to make the hike easier. Although there isn’t much vegetation besides pine and oak trees, the waterfalls alone are worth the hike. The trail also provides several spots for camping near High Shoals Creek which makes is a great spot for even the novice camper. The trail is a nice place to get away from the stress of school for a couple of hours or even a night if you camp.

Raven Cliffs Trail

Raven Cliffs is a stunning, easy trail for day hiking and backpacking. The trail is 2.5 miles with a series of waterfalls leading to a last one that is surrounded by rock walls. The trail is very relaxing as it glides through fern fields and the surrounded by the peaceful sound of Dodd Creek. The waterfalls allow hikers to take breaks and look at nature’s natural beauty and even sometimes allow places to swim in the creek. The trail offers many spots for camping which makes it a great spot for backpackers with little experience but can also be easily done as a day hike.

Blood Mountain

The Blood Mountain area contains a lot of history and beauty. To reach the top of the mountain, hikers use the Byron Herbert Reece Trail. After a mile, the trail dead-ends where the hiker continues on the Appalachian Trail. The hike ranges from moderate to difficult as it winds its way through oaks and white pines. At the top of the mountain, hikers are greeted with large slabs of natural granite to climb over. The mountain received its name after a fierce battle on the mountain between the Cherokee and Creek Indians. Legend says that after the battle the rivers ran red with blood. So the mountain received its unique name.  During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Corps provided many jobs where they worked on conservation of US natural resources. The CCC built the famous shelter that is located on top of the mountain in 1937. Every time I hike the mountain I think about its history and it humbles me to know that I am walking the same path so many before me have taken.

Appalachian Trial

We are lucky enough that Young Harris is surrounded by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, also known as the AT. The trial starts in Dahlonega, Georgia and travels 2,150 miles to Mount Katahdin, Maine. The trail accommodates hikers of all skills, as sections of it range from very easy to very strenuous. The closest sections to YHC are Sections 4, 5, and 6.  Each section has a different difficulty and the difficulty changes within each section. The Georgia part of the AT is arguable one of the toughest of the whole trail. So hikers are guaranteed the sections will hold moderate to difficult ranges. The start of a new section means there is an access point onto the trail. The easiest access point to section 4 is on GA 75 or Richard B.  Russell Highway. At the highest point of the highway, Hogpen Gap, is a parking lot on the left. From the parking lot you can start hiking on the AT either going north or south. Like on Blood Mountain, every time I hike on the AT I am over whelmed by its history. Since 1951, when the trail was completed, more than 9,000 have hiked the whole trail and countless others have hiked different sections of it. On the trail, each step a hiker takes has been taken by thousands of people. There is truly a humbling experience when someone joins the “I have hiked on the AT” Club.

I hope that the list opens your eyes to ample opportunities to go hiking and explore nature’s beauty around YHC. Each trail holds its own surprise of the states own wildlife, vegetation, and adventure. I know that if you take advantage of the opportunities the area holds for you, it will return the favor by making you awe in its presence. All of the trails I listed are within an hour of school, so access to these magnificent areas in your grasp, all you have to do is take hold of it and explore.

 

Trail Difficulty
Hiking trails are graded on how difficult they are to walk based on a variety of features like incline and length. Below are the most common grade types:
EASY: Trails marked “easy” can be done within a couple of hours. They are mostly flat with little incline.
MODERATE: Trails marked “moderate,” can be done in a day. They have flat areas but also have steady to steep inclines.
DIFFICULT: Trails marked “difficult,” has to be hiked at a fast pace to be hiked in a day. They have frequent steep inclines that can be very strenuous.