Location: North Georgia
Trip Starts: Reece Memorial Lot
Trip Ends: Reece Memorial Lot
Total Distance: 7.9 miles
Hike Type: Roundtrip, Loop Hike
Hike Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Trails Used: Reece Access, Freeman, Appalachian Trails
Trail Traffic: Heavy
Trip Type: Day or Overnight Hike
More Information:

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
1755 Cleveland Highway
Gainesville, GA 30501
770 297-3000


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 wilderness 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.

On this hike, we followed the Reece Memorial Trail across the Appalachian Trail and picked up the Freeman Trail to traverse a lower section of Blood Mountain over to Bird Gap. Here the Freeman Trail again joins with the Appalachian Trail and there is a blue-blazed side trail that runs 0.5 miles down to Wood’s Hole Shelter which sleeps 6-8. The shelter is named for Roy & Tillie Wood of Roswell, Georgia who came to the aid of hundreds of long distance Appalachian Trail hikers with inexpensive food and lodging at their summer home near Pearisburg, Virgina. The spring is unreliable here – especially in the fall months, so plan accordingly.

From Woods Hole, we hiked through Slaughter Gap and over Blood Mountain the following day. 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.)

This hike can be done as overnight backpacking trip (with additional camping options at Bird Gap, north on the Appalachian Trail from Slaughter Gap, and at Blood Mountain Shelter. It can also be as a day hike, but give yourself plenty of time because the terrain is not easy – especially in wet or icy conditions.


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