Blood Mountain is located near the Union/Lumpkin county line in Northeast Georgia. It is the highest point on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail at 4,458 feet, and offers some incredible views of the surrounding region. The mountain's name comes from an interesting Indian legend.
It has been said that long ago there was a great battle between the Cherokee and Creek Nations on this mountain. According to the legend so many warriors died in the battle that their blood ran down the sides of the mountain and into the rivers turning everything red. It is easy to see from that legend alone how the mountain got its unique name. The Cherokee also thought that Blood Mountain was home to the Nunnehi. The Nunnehi were a spirit people that watched over hunters and people hiking through the region.
Both Because it is the highest peak on the Georgia section of the AT, and has a very high, open, rocky peak it is also the single most popular hiking destination in the entire state. There is ample parking in Neel's Gap at the Walasi-Yi Inn and the hike to the summit is relatively short with a total elevation gain of about 1400 feet.
In addition, two very popular state parks are nearby: Vogel and Unicoi. Both of these offer plenty of outdoor activities, so the crowds who gather at those locations quite often find their way to Neel's Gap and the Appalachian Trail access to the top of Blood Mountain. Don't head up to the summit expecting solitude. You will find great views of the southern Blue Ridge and the highest areas in the north Georgia mountains. Most of the state's other high peaks are visible from the summit of Blood, including Brasstown Bald, Rabun Bald, and Tray Mountain.
Blood Mountain is easily accessible from Neels Gap on Hwy 129. There is a parking area about 1/4 mile past the Store on the top of the gap. If you plan to have a fire on the top of the Mountain you must pack your own wood up, due to a moratorium of wood collecting on the trail leading up from either side--but just avoid building a fire on the summit. There is also no water available on the top on the mountain. The closest water source is about 1 mile down the South side of the peak, where there are also some nice campsites.
Park your car at the Bryon Reece Trail right off of Highway 19.
The parking area is about a half mile North of the Walasi-Yi Center. You will follow the Reece Access Trail until it connects with the Appalachian Trail. When the trails connect turn right onto the Appalachian Trail and follow the white blazes to the top of Blood Mountain.
No permits are required...you can park anywhere on the local Georgia roads or the parking lots at the trailheads and leave your car for days for free.
Parking is FREE throughout the region.
The local Wildlife Management prevents fires along specified Appalachian Trial routes.
In addition, Blood Mountain is now the centerpiece of the Blood Mountain Wilderness Area. All wilderness rules apply. No large groups. No open fires (with possible exceptions for the AT route).
The best time to climb is March-November when weather is phenomenal and views from the top are spectacular.
During colder winter months you may find the rough trail covered in ice and possible snow. Nights can be very cold.
There is a lodge-like AT shelter on top of the mountain, which is completely free offers a brick covered housing with a chimney (supposedly cemented); it is one of the few four-sided and non-wood construction shelters on the AT and is unique in my experience. The Blood Mountain Shelter is notorious for mice. Be prepared to have them crawl over you as you doze. Be aware that there is no water on the summit. If you stay here, bring water.
You can set up a tent right outside of the highest point on the mountain where there is some flat terrain. Good enough for a 2-person tent. But there are great campsites elsewhere, closer to water sources near the foot of the peak and on the far side of Neel's Gap.
The only part of the AT that passes through a building is at the Walasi-Yi Center at Neel's Gap at the foot of Blood Mountain. A great place for all hiking and backpacking needs. Their official site can be found here.
The Chattahoochee National Forest provides the opportunity to rent a cabin very near Blood Mountain. Information on the cabin can be found here.
It's convenient to do a loop hike from Lake Winfield Scott to the summit of Blood Mountain and back via several options which include the AT.
Tent camping and RV sites are also available at Lake Winfield Scott if you want to use a campground as a base from which to hike.