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!

Conquering 600+ Stairs at Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls State Park is a gorgeous area for hiking, camping, and fishing in the heart of North Georgia. Amicalola Falls is the tallest waterfall in Georgia, reaching about 730′ in height. The falls are beautiful and one of Georgia’s most popular state parks, for good reason!

There are a lot of trails and hiking areas throughout the park depending on how long and strenuous of a hike you’re looking for. One of the most well-known hikes in the park leads you about eight miles from Amicalola Falls to the summit of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. This is one of my favorite hikes in Georgia for an overnight backpacking trip.

If you’re just looking to experience the falls themselves for the day, one of the most popular routes is taking the 600+ stairs that lead you from the base of the falls to the top. This option is only 2 miles out-and-back, but the stairs make it a decent challenge. There are plenty of opportunities to rest along the way, and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the falls throughout. From the top, there are also gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.

Amicalola Falls is a must-visit spot in Georgia, whether you’re a local looking to explore more of your state, or an out-of-towner with limited time to see all the natural wonders Georgia has to offer. I promise you won’t leave disappointed!

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?

Five Ways to Spend Your Summer in Georgia

Hello friends! Can you believe it’s already mid-July? Summer will be over before you know it and while fall is my favorite season, I don’t want to let the summer slip away too fast! Without further ado, here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy the Georgia summer and escape some of the heat and humidity.

Tubing in Helen

If you didn’t grow up tubing through a small Bavarian-themed town in the middle of the mountains, did you really have a childhood? Sure, it may be kitschy and touristy, but tubing in Helen is one of my favorite memories from summers in Georgia. There’s nothing quite like floating on the river, getting nice and sunburnt, and then enjoying some overpriced German food in town. Better yet, grab some boiled peanuts for the drive home. Now, you’re a true Georgian.

Hiking Blood Mountain + Taking a Dip in Hemlock Falls

Blood Mountain is one of my favorite mountains of all time, and one I recommend to everyone who finds themselves in Georgia. The hike itself is pretty tough, but the views are a fantastic reward. Make sure to check out the trail log located in the shelter at the summit and read through notes left behind by all the hikers and backpackers who have passed through! After working up a sweat on your hike, drive the 10 minutes or so down the road to Hemlock Falls. The falls are stunning and the hike down is very short, but be warned, the water is freezing cold!

Kayaking/Swimming in Lake Blue Ridge

Lake Blue Ridge is a beautiful summer destination for swimming, kayaking, paddle-boarding, or boating. I personally prefer this lake to others that are closer to Atlanta because it seems cleaner and better maintained in general. Plus, there’s nothing like cooling off in a lake surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. After your adventures make sure to check out downtown Blue Ridge or downtown Ellijay for some delicious food and local brews.

Wading in Sweetwater Creek

If you’d like to explore somewhere closer to Atlanta, be sure to check out Sweetwater Creek. This state park offers lots of walking trails and hikes, and plenty of opportunities for swimming and wading. The area is beautiful and was actually used as a filming location in Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1! The ruins of the mill are an awesome sight as well, so make sure to take a moment and learn about the history behind them.

Grabbing Peaches from a Local Farmer’s Market

Sure, farmer’s markets aren’t exclusive to Georgia, but they were always a staple summer activity when I lived there! There are a lot of fantastic farmer’s markets throughout the state ranging from small to pretty large, but my favorite was always the Marietta Farmer’s Market. The market is big enough that you have plenty of options to choose from, but not so big that you’re overwhelmed with crowds. Marietta is a cute town to explore as well, with lots of bistros and cafes for a quick breakfast or lunch. It’s also close to Kennesaw Mountain, another of my favorite hiking spots in Georgia.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer wherever you may be, and that you get to try out some of my favorite activities for yourself!

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.