These are a Few of My Favorite Things - North Georgia Walking Trails

Those who are new to Gainesville/Hall County and Northeast Georgia are often surprised at the area's day trip and weekend recreational opportunities.  For those who like to hike, the Appalachian Trail is nearby and offers a number of day hikes and overnight camping opportunities.  

The approach trail to the Appalachian Trail starts here behind the visitor center and gift shop at  Amicalola Falls in Dawson County.  Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfalls in the Southeast. 

There are many more great trails out there though.  These are my favorites that I visit over and over:

1) Georgia's newest state park, Don Carter State Park, is right here in Hall County, just a few miles north of Gainesville GA and is on the shores of Lake Lanier.  In addition to campsites, cottages, and picnic shelters, there are walking trails and also a nice fishing pier with easy access from the parking lot.  Eventually, there will be 75 miles of walking trails here on this 1316 acre park with over 10 miles of Lake Lanier shoreline.  Daily admission is $5.  The smart buy is the $55 annual pass that allows you entrance to all Georgia state parks and a discount at the gift shops.  Don't miss the gift shop at Don Carter State Park. It's open every day and has a wide variety of locally made crafts.

One of the "primitive" campsites on shore of Lake Lanier

The trail is "dog-friendly" which Maxx loves.

The gift shop is open daily and has a great selection of locally made crafts.

2) A hidden jewel of Dawson County is The Hike Inn, only accessed via a 5 mile walk through the woods that begins at the top of Amicalola Falls.  It has become one of our favorite getaways.  Although you can walk in for the day, have a few snacks and walk back out, it's a true joy to have dinner there family style and spend the night.   It is a family friendly trail, beautiful in all seasons, even in the rain!  When we last went, we walked in and out in the rain, but the fog added a dimension of splendor I had never experienced.   You can now book online.  Book well in advance of when you'd like to go if you want to stay on the weekend.  It is a great spot for a family outing with 20 rooms.  

Garland Reynolds, a Gainesville architect, designed The Hike Inn and calls it one of his favorite projects:  
"...The Hike-Inn Lodge at Amicalola State Park is a special favorite with a unique story. This remote state park and historic site facility was constructed on the top east side of a mountain on the access trail leading up to join with the beginning of the Appalachian Trail on Springer Mountain. ... Designing it involved a lot of research including walking through the White Mountains of New Hampshire where I learned how not to construct self-composting toilets and how to ventilate rooms to prevent moisture coming from perspiring arriving hikers from collecting on ceilings and raining down.  It was not a consideration in the design, but the Hike-Inn went on to be awarded a coveted Gold LEED environmental certification."

The heated rooms each have bunk beds.  Also, a  pad is available for a child to sleep on the floor.

Although the sign says it's a three hour walk, we always do it in about two hours at a leisurely pace.

These chairs line the back yard...Perfect spot for a large family outing.

Breakfast and dinner are served daily.  And everyone endeavors to waste as little as possible in order to earn a smiley face.  It is pack in/pack out.  So everything you bring in, you take out.  Keep that in mind if you bring a bottle of wine.  You're carrying the empty out. 

The large family room opens to a covered porch filled with rocking chairs.  Evenings are enjoyed around the warm wood-fired stove.

The fog made for a beautiful walk in the woods.  We couldn't see the Inn until we were right up on it.

The trail to The Hike Inn is marked with lime green blazes.  Approach and side trails of the Appalachian Trail (AT) are blue blazed and white blazes signify the AT.

3) High Shoals Falls in Towns County is a fun day trip from almost anywhere in Northeast Georgia.  In addition to High Shoals Falls, you'll also see Blue Hole Falls.  The trail is 2.4 miles round trip.  There are two observation decks at the base of each waterfalls.  To get there:  Take GA 75 N from Helen for 1.4 miles. Turn right on Indian Grave Gap Road (FS Rd 283) at the High Shoals sign. Go 1.5 miles on this road to trail head on left.

A sight like this always makes the walk in worth it.  It is a little steep uphill coming out.

4)  Jackrabbit Mountain, North Carolina in the Nantahala National Forest (okay, it's a little outside North Georgia) is only about 5 miles out of Hiawassee and is a great spot for hiking and biking.  It is free to use and one of my all-time favorite spots to get away from it all.  Most every trail takes you alongside Lake Chatuge.  All trails are fairly gentle with no steep inclines.   My favorite trail and a suggestion that will take you out for some incredible lake and mountain views on a beach are the red and red/white trails off of the main circle.  Here's a link for some history on the trails and how they came into being.  The only facilities at the trail head are a large gravel parking area and rest rooms.  To get there:

From Hiawassee, Georgia, take Georgia Route 75 north (right beside the McDonald's)  for about 3.5 miles, where it turns into North Carolina Route 175, and go an additional 1.5 miles. Turn left onto State Road 1155 at the Nantahala National Forest sign.  Trail head parking is on the left.

All the trails are gentle with no steep inclines, great for trail running, walking or biking.

5) Bell Mountain, Hiawassee GA - Just outside the city limits of Hiawassee is this spectacular mountain, also known as Bell Knob Mountain, at an elevation of 3323.  We were engaged here on a cold, foggy day in December 2013.   The trek up the mountain starts as a paved road and ends up as a hike over what used to be a Jeep trail.  Rain, erosion and misuse of the road by ATVs has turned it into a road that is now accessed only by walking just under a mile.  Sunset is an amazing time to go.  My birthday wish almost every year is to walk up there and watch the sun set.

To get there, follow 75N from Helen to Hwy 76.  Turn left on Hwy 76 and then right on Shake Rag (beside gas station).  At one point, the road forks.   Stay to the left.  Drive until you see a place large enough to park.

If you are considering buying or selling in Northeast Georgia, I hope you'll consider contacting me.  I work with husband, David Stovall, my mother, Joyce Waters and sister Kayla Shoemake.  As natives of this area, we know North Georgia Real Estate.

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Selling North Georgia Since 1988
Associate Broker/Partner


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