MORE INFORMATION: Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests 1755 Cleveland Highway Gainesville, GA 30501 770 297-3000
HIGHLIGHTS: The Chattahoochee National Forest is one of two National Forests in the State of Georgia, and it takes its name from the Chattahoochee River whose headwaters begin in the North Georgia mountains. The River and the area were given the name by the English settlers who heard it from the Indians that once lived here.
The Chattahoochee National Forest was created when the Forest Service purchased 31,000 acres in Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin and Union Counties from the Gennett family in 1911 for $7.00 per acre. In the beginning, the Chattahoochee was part of the Nantahala and Cherokee National Forests in North Carolina and Tennessee, but eventually the Forest Service made additional land purchases and expanded the Chattahoochee to its current size of nearly 750,000 acres.
The Blood Mountain Wilderness area received its designation in 1991, and it is a sub-section of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The wilderness area is bordered to the northwest by Georgia Highway 60 and the Blue Ridge mountain range, and to the northeast by Georgia Highway 19/129 and Neels Gap. Major trails in this area include the Appalachian Trail, Freeman Trail, the Dockery Lake/Miller Gap Trail, the Coosa Backcountry Trail, the Duncan Ridge Trail, The Bare Hair Trail, and the Slaughter Creek Trail.
Blood Mountain is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail in the state of Georgia, and it is a popular destination for both overnight and day hikers since there are magnificent views from a rock outcropping at the summit. Blood Mountain and nearby Slaughter Gap were once the site of a major battle between the Cherokee and the Creek Indians. The summit is also known for an old stone shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Core during the 1930’s. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is still used by hikers as a backcountry shelter (although no water is available at the summit).It’s a steep climb to the summit of Blood Mountain at 4,461 feet but the views from a rock outcropping near the shelter are spectacular.
We started our hike to Blood Mountain from the Reece Memorial Parking Area off GA 19/129 near Neels Gap. It’s a steep climb to the summit at 4,461 feet but the views from a rock outcropping near the shelter are spectacular. Blood Mountain is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, and it is the second highest peak in the State (after Brasstown Bald.) As a result, the area is heavily used and no campfires are permitted near the summit. There are a number of side trails in this area, however, and a variety of hikes and campsites are available that use blue blazed side trails instead of the Appalachian Trail (where most of the foot traffic is focused).