OverviewNot to be confused with the high point of South Carolina, this Sassafras Mountain is along the Appalachian Trail in Northern Georgia. It is about 11 miles northeast of Springer Mountain, the official start of the AT. Sassafras Mountain is between Horse Gap and Cooper Gap and the hike to the top and back down again from either gap is steep but not technical. On the top of the mountain is a beautiful, lush hardwood forest that unfortunately blocks most of the view but is pretty nonetheless. In the spring wildflowers carpet the floor of this forest. I saw columbines, iris, jack-in-the-pulpit, trillium, among others on my visit in May 2006. I'm told that this is also a beautiful hike to do in autumn when the trees turn. Forest Road 42 is also on some people's autumn-must-drive lists.
Sassafras Mountain is in the Chattahoochee National Forest in northern Georgia. To get there from Atlanta, take I-75 to exit 268, then 575 north to Ellijay (this becomes the Appalachian Development Highway, Route 515 at Tate). At State Road 52 turn right and go about 7 miles. Turn right on Roy Road and follow this 9.5 mile to a stop sign. Turn right. 2.1 miles on this road is the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. Turn right onto Forest Service Road 42. 13 miles later this road ends in downtown Suches. But you're not going to go that far. Forest Road 42 intersects the AT at Horse and Cooper Gaps. The hike up Sassafras Mountain from either gap is about 1 mile with 500-600' elevation gain.
Suggested guide book: Appalachian Trail Guide to North Carolina-Georgia by Jack Coriell
You can also buy it from Amazon.com
Red TapeNo permits are needed to hike Sassafras Mountain. Please practice Leave No Trace ethics when you hike in this area!
When to Climb
All year climbs are possible. Of course fair weather (May - September) months are the most popular. AT thruhikers generally start from March - April.
This hike is mostly in a beautiful forest of mixed hardwoods... And I've been told that in the fall the colors of the trees are spectacular!
Trails in this area can be quite muddy in April and May with spring rains. In May, though, I can attest that there are many beautiful wildflowers!
CampingThere are two small campsites at the top of Sassafras Mountain. There was space for a couple of tents along with a campfire ring. You can also camp at Horse or Cooper Gaps. All camps are dry so make sure you have plenty of water! Also, watch out for poison ivy.
Gainesville Weather Forecast
The first 20 miles of the AT Trail Description
The first 16 miles of the AT Trail Description and Photos
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
Appalachian Trail Conservancy