Several North Georgia Hiking Trails Reopen

The USDA National Forest Service opens a series trailheads and access points to the AT

Mike Rhodes | May 22, 2020

Back on March 27, 2020, most trails and trailhead access points in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests were closed in an attempt to keep the public safe from the COVID-19 virus. I was a bit dumbfounded by the move at the time. In fact I had just finished writing a blog with a list of some trails for y’all to hit over the weekend when the news came across the wire. Having just seen the local Walmart parking lot earlier that day, I couldn’t wrap my head around that being open and a trial 8 miles from the nearest piece of asphalt was closed. It didn’t make sense.

Well it’s no longer a concern. As of May 22, 2020, restrictions within four national forests for a series of trailhead are being lifted. Most important for me is the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Georgia made the list, but the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina, Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia are participating, too. So if you didn’t have Memorial Day weekend plans, you now have more options.

Along with the trails and trailhead access points, there are several dispersed campgrounds that are opening back up, as well. I’ll post the link to the Chattahoochee-Oconee Forest Service COVID-19 updates page at the bottom.

Appalachian Trail trailheads in Georgia include: Dicks Creek Gap, Hogpen Gap, Neels Gap, Springer Mountain, Tesnatee Gap, Unicoi Gap and Woody Gap.

There are a bunch of other trails that are not part of the AT but provide access to the AT that are opening back up, too. Some of my favorites include Slaughter Creek Trail, Byron Herbert Reece Memorial Trail, Freeman Trail and Duncan Ridge Trail. Slaughter Creek comes out of Lake Winfield Scott and parts of the other three connect to the AT in and around Blood Mountain. You can access Bear Hair Gap and Coosa Backcountry Trails from Vogel State Park and hike to the Duncan Ridge Trail. Park by the lake. Head toward the campground, and you’ll see the trailhead on your right.

Helton Creek Falls Union County, Georgia.

The Aska Trail System along with the Jake and Bull Mountain Trail System have reopened, as well. If you’re like my bride and enjoy a reward for your hike, there are some trails to waterfalls back in play, too. Trails to Helton Creek Falls, Hemlock Falls, Keown Falls, Minnehaha Falls and Angel Falls are waiting on you.

You can find the full list using this link to the Chattahoochee-Oconee page. I am certain it will continue to be adjusted so as always check before you strike out for the trail.

As always, continue to be respectful of the trails and other hikers. There are hundreds of thousands of acres in the National Forests, but odds are good you’re going to come across other hikers along the trail. Social distancing is still a thing and appropriate. Step off the side of the trail and give a wide berth when you do see others. The earlier you get out there the fewer hikers you’re likely to encounter. Not to mention you’ll have most of the afternoon to let your legs recover.


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