Woody Gap to Preachers Rock

Preachers Rock is a beautiful summit in Georgia located along the Appalachian Trail. There are several options to hike to the viewpoint, but one of the most popular begins at Woody Gap. This 2 mile out-and-back hike is short and relatively easy, making it a great day hike for hikers of all experience levels.

The hike to Preachers Rock begins at the Woody Gap parking area off GA Hwy 60, just outside the town of Dahlonega. White blazes mark the route to Preachers Rock along the Appalachian Trail, which heads northeast through the woods. Spring is a beautiful time to do this hike, as plants will be blooming and conditions won’t be as humid as they become in the summer months. The trail is very easygoing for the first 3/4 mile with minimal elevation change as you make your way to Preachers Rock.

The last 1/4 mile or so is the most challenging part of the hike to Preachers Rock. You’ll begin to head uphill as you approach the summit, and there are a number of switchbacks and stone steps along the trail. It isn’t long before you arrive to Preachers Rock, a rocky viewpoint that overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Make sure to take your time appreciating the beautiful views from Preachers Rock. This is a great spot to kick back for awhile and enjoy a snack or some lunch (make sure to leave no trace and pack out all your trash). The hike back to the Woody Gap parking area is very easy aand straightforward, though you will want to watch your step on the steeper sections to ensure you don’t trip.

Preachers Rock is one of my favorite hikes along the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail. It’s also a great hike for beginners, and I’ve taken several friends up it as their first official hike. Have you done this hike before? Let me know in the comments!

North Georgia Bucket List: 10 Must-See Sights and Experiences

I was born and raised in Georgia and spent my childhood and teen years exploring the mountains of North Georgia. Even though I now live in Colorado, North Georgia holds a special place in my heart, and I think the whole area is seriously underrated. This guide will highlight 10 must-see sights and experiences for you to add to your North Georgia Bucket List ASAP!

  1. Visit the Bigfoot Museum in Blue Ridge – First up on my North Georgia Bucket List is Expedition: Bigfoot. Expedition: Bigfoot is a humble and quirky museum located in Blue Ridge that is entirely dedicated to the legendary creature. The museum is chock-full of Bigfoot-related artifacts, documentaries about the mysterious creature, and a map of reported Bigfoot sightings throughout Georgia. Whether you’re a believer or not, Expedition: Bigfoot is a super unique and entertaining way to spend an afternoon.
  2. Stand Atop Georgia’s Highest Peak – As the highest peak in Georgia with an elevation of 4,700′, Brasstown Bald is definitely worth adding to your North Georgia Bucket List. You can reach the summit of Brasstown Bald by hiking a short yet steep paved trail from the visitor’s center, or you can hop on a shuttle that makes the mountain accessible for all. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. On a clear day, you’ll actually be able to see four states from the summit: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
  3. Backpack to Springer Mountain – Springer Mountain is an iconic North Georgia hike because it is considered the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, aka the point where hikers either begin or end their journey along the 2,000+ mile long trail. To reach Springer Mountain, most hikers begin from Amicalola Falls and hike 8.8 miles along the AT Approach Trail before camping overnight at the summit and returning to the Falls the next day. Springer Mountain is a classic hike, making it one of the top experiences on my North Georgia Bucket List.
  4. Go Tubing in Helen – If you’re not familiar with the concept, “tubing” is a classic summertime activity where you float down a river in a large inflatable tube. There are a number of places to go tubing in Georgia, but one of my personal favorite options is floating along the Chattahoochee River in Helen, a small town modeled after a Bavarian village. Helen is definitely a little touristy, but it’s honestly a super cute and quirky town that has definitely earned it’s place on my North Georgia Bucket List.
  5. Pay a Visit to Mountain CrossingsMountain Crossings is another legendary, Appalachian Trail-related addition to my North Georgia Bucket List. Mountain Crossings is a small outdoor outfitter located right along the AT in the town of Blairsville. Everyone who works there has thru-hiked the trail and can offer expert advice on gear, hiking the AT, and backpacking in general. Even if you just drive up and stop there for a quick lunch break, it’s a great opportunity to connect with the AT community and learn about some local history.
  6. Climb and Rappel at Mount YonahMount Yonah is an iconic mountain in Georgia that is known for its massive granite dome feature. Mount Yonah is a great hiking and backpacking spot, but one of the best ways to experience the mountain is by climbing and/or rappelling the massive granite face, making this one of the most thrilling experiences on my North Georgia Bucket List! If you’re new to rock-climbing, there are a number of companies in the area who can guide you up and provide all the necessary equipment (including this one, which was co-created by a former coworker of mine). You can also hike to the top and simply rappel down if you don’t want to commit to fully climbing it! Note: don’t attempt to climb or rappel Mount Yonah unless you are going with a knowledgable climbing partner/group or are an experienced climber yourself.
  7. Become a Member of the Canyon Climbers Club – next up on my North Georgia Bucket List is becoming a member of the Canyon Climbers Club. The Canyon Climbers Club is a super fun challenge put on by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The challenge is to hike the 4 major canyons in the state of Georgia: Amicalola Falls, Cloudland Canyon, Providence Canyon, and Tallulah Gorge. Each of these areas are unique and beautiful in their own way, and the challenge is a great opportunity to explore areas of Georgia you may never have otherwise. Fair warning: be prepared to take on a lot of stairs during this challenge!
  8. Do Some Shopping at the Wander North Georgia Store – a North Georgia Bucket List wouldn’t be complete without visiting the mecca of all things North Georgia! At its heart, Wander North Georgia is an outdoor store with all kinds of apparel, gear, and souvenir items, but the company also emphasizes conservation and education. Wander North Georgia’s store in Clayton is super cute and fun to “wander” around, and they’re currently building a new, even larger second location at Tallulah Falls!
  9. Kayak and Swim at Lake Blue RidgeLake Blue Ridge is a gorgeous reservoir that is a super popular summertime destination. Lake Blue Ridge is one of my favorite lakes in North Georgia because the water is clean and cool, and it offers a number of recreation areas to choose from. You can enjoy this North Georgia Bucket List destination by kayaking, swimming, boating, or paddle-boarding.
  10. Camp at Blood Mountain – last but certainly not least on my North Georgia Bucket List is spending a night camping on top of Blood Mountain. Blood Mountain, the highest point of the AT in Georgia, is my favorite mountain in the state, and a great place to go camping for the night. Despite the ominous name, Blood Mountain is actually a beautiful hike, and there are amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains at the summit. You’ll also find a historic shelter that was constructed in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program during the Great Depression that employed men to work on various environmental projects.

I hope you find this North Georgia Bucket List helpful as you plan your next visit to the area! What are some of the top sights and experiences on your North Georgia Bucket List? Let me know in the comments!

Best Day Trips from Atlanta

Although I live in Colorado at the moment, I’ll always consider the Southeast my home. I grew up just outside of Atlanta and have spent countless days and weekends exploring the city and surrounding areas. Atlanta is a great city in and of itself, and it’s located near lots of other awesome towns, so here are some of the best day trips I recommend taking from Atlanta.

Chattanooga, TN – 2 hours

Chattanooga is one of my favorite cities in the Southeast for many reasons: it’s super walkable, has a large variety of activities, and is great for visitors of all ages. Whether you like hiking, photography, live music, food, or history, Chattanooga truly has it all. Although you can easily spend just a day exploring the city, I recommend taking a full weekend to stay in Chattanooga and see all the city has to offer. Click here for my full guide to Chattanooga, where I feature some of my favorite accommodations, restaurants, and activities.

Dahlonega, GA – 1 hour 15 minutes

Preacher’s Rock near Dahlonega

I lived in Dahlonega for several years during college and absolutely love revisiting this small mountain town. Dahlonega, a former mining town, is a quick drive from Atlanta, but you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to another state. The mountains surrounding Dahlonega are beautiful and offer plenty of hiking options, and the town itself is full of cute shops and lots of history. Dahlonega is also not too far from sights like Amicalola Falls and Mount Yonah, and there are a lot of wineries in the area which make for a fun day activity.

Clayton/Lake Rabun, GA – 2 hours

The Clayton and Lake Rabun area of Georgia is simply stunning, featuring beautiful mountains and lakes. This area truly shines during the summer where you can enjoy the outdoors by hiking, boating, fishing, and even horseback-riding. Clayton is a small but quaint town with lots of little shops and plenty of restaurant options (you must visit the Wander North Georgia store while you’re there!) If you’d like to spend the weekend exploring this area, I’d recommend staying at the historic Lake Rabun hotel, a beautiful spot located right on the lake.

Blue Ridge, GA – 1 hour 30 minutes

Blue Ridge is another small town that is perfect for a day trip. During the summer, I highly recommend visiting Lake Blue Ridge for boating, swimming, and kayaking. Afterwards, grab a bite to eat and do some shopping in downtown Blue Ridge or nearby Ellijay. In the fall, Ellijay is also a great spot for apple-picking, which is one of my favorite childhood memories. Another fun and quirky stop in Blue Ridge is Expedition Bigfoot, a whole museum dedicated to the elusive creature. It may seem a little silly, but the museum is truly a one-of-a-kind spot that’s worth a visit. If you don’t mind saying overnight or for the evening, Blue Ridge also has an old school drive-in theater which is a super fun and nostalgic spot.

Helen, GA – 1 hour 45 minutes

Helen is a quirky little town worth a visit because it’s modeled after a Bavarian village. I spent many days and weekends as a kid exploring the town of Helen, and even though it is definitely a popular spot for tourists, the town really does offer a unique experience. If you visit during the winter, Helen will be decked out with Christmas decorations which is truly beautiful. A summer visit, meanwhile, will give you the opportunity to try tubing, where you float down the Chattahoochee River in big inflatable tubes. There are lots of shops and restaurants in Helen making it a great spot for families to visit with kids of all ages.

I hope this guide helps you plan your next Georgia adventure! What are some of your favorite day tips from Atlanta?

Backpacking in Georgia

Hello all! Today I’m going to be sharing with you three of my favorite backpacking spots in Georgia. If you haven’t already seen the video, make sure to check it out here!
I think Georgia is a seriously underrated spot for backpackers and nature lovers of all kinds. The Southeast in general is beautiful and offers some amazing backpacking, kayaking, and rock-climbing areas. I count myself lucky that I got to grow up there, and I spent most of high school and college hiking and backpacking as often as I could. Without further ado, here are my three favorite backpacking trips in Georgia!

Appalachian Approach Trail

The AT Approach Trail begins at Amicalola Falls State Park and travels roughly 9 miles to the summit of Springer Mountain. Springer Mountain is the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, which runs 2,000+ miles in length from Georgia to Maine. Though the Approach Trail isn’t included in the official mileage of the AT, many section and thru-hikers embark on this trail to begin their hike. This is actually the first backpacking trip I ever went on with my family (check out that blog post here) and boy, was it quite the adventure.
I’ve returned to this trail several times since and had much more enjoyable experiences than my first impression (I would recommend visiting in the spring for mild, pleasant weather). If you choose to go out and back you’ll be hiking around 18 miles altogether, with 4,000’+ of elevation gain. I would consider this trail challenging, but a good introduction to backpacking as the trail itself is well-marked and fairly moderate. For a classic hike that gives you the perfect opportunity to test out your gear and comfort on the trail, the Approach Trail is a great way to go!

Woody Gap to Neels Gap

Woody Gap to Neels Gap is a roughly 10 mile section of the AT that begins near Dahlonega and ends near Blairsville. I personally love this section of the trail because it takes you through some pretty iconic AT features, including Preachers Rock and Blood Mountain. You’ll gain about 2,500′ of elevation which is definitely a challenge, but still doable for someone a bit newer to backpacking as long as you set realistic expectations and pace yourself.
Although you could definitely just do this section as a day hike, I recommend camping at the summit of Blood Mountain to catch some gorgeous sunset/rise views. Plus, the final push up to the summit is pretty tiring, so you’ll have definitely earned a solid break. Blood Mountain is one of my personal favorite mountains of all time, and hiking to the summit via from Woody Gap is a great way to add some mileage and gain a new perspective of the trail!

Cumberland Island

This one may seem a bit random, but hear me out: Cumberland Island is unlike any other backpacking spot in Georgia, and possibly the entire Southeast. Located off the coast of Georgia, this island is only accessible via ferry and offers a surprising amount of backpacking trails. The island itself has a really interesting history, and each area offers a unique and fascinating environment. You can see the ruins of Dungeness, a mansion that burnt down in the mid-1900s, and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of some wildlife, which includes horses, pigs, and armadillos.
I believe we camped at the Stafford Beach Campground, located about three and a half miles from the ferry drop-off. While you don’t have to worry about too much elevation gain, the island does get quite hot, humid, and buggy, so you have to make sure you’re well-prepared. We returned back to the ferry via the beach, simply following the coastline until we reached the dock. It’s such a unique and cool experience to backpack on the coast, and Cumberland Island is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen.