The rocky trail from Blue Mountain
Roughly mid-way between Unicoi Gap northbound on the AT and the Blue Mountain Shelter rises Blue Mountain. Reaching 4,020 feet, Blue Mountain is both a “Georgia 4er” as well as a Georgia Top 20 summit (based on summits with 300 feet or more prominence). Blue Mountain sits on the crest of the Tennessee Valley Divide and rises above the Naked Mountain Branch of Henson Creek.
19th Highest peak in Georgia
Appalachian Trail Conservance: Chattahoochee National Forest | Springer Mountain to Bly Gap | GEORGIA
Rank & Prominence: Lists of John
Fern forest |The nearest town to Blue Mountain is Helen, Georgia, about 90 minutes north-northeast of Atlanta. This map shows you how to get there from surrounding communities, including Atlanta.|
From GA 75/17 (paved) at Unicoi Gap via the AT
• To reach Unicoi Gap, travel south on GA 75 11.6 miles from Hiawassee or north 9.2 miles from Helen.
• From Unicoi Gap (ample parking), head southbound on the Appalachian Trail.
• Follow the white blazes
• One-way distance: 1.4 miles
• Elevation Gain: 1,050 feet
Large ferns near summit Southern slopes of Blue Mountain
There is no fee to visit this part of the Chattahoochee National Forest and permits are not required for overnight stays in the backcountry. Please be mindful of posted Forest Service user warnings, such as “problem bear” alerts and campfire bans. Note that the Appalachian Trail is open to foot traffic only. Motorized vehicles and pack animals are not permitted.
Please practice Leave No Trace principals:
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Hiking Through the Mist on Blue Mountain
CampingAT Backpacker Camping: Blue Mountain Shelter
Blue Mountain Shelter is just 0.8 mile southbound on the AT from Blue Mountain and sleeps approximately 7. There are ample flat spots for tent camping. Note that water is downhill of the shelter. (Many head southbound on the AT briefly to a spring at Hanson Gap.) Additionally, this shelter sits someone exposed to the weather on a ridge and is known for high winds during weather events.
Tent Camping at Blue Mountain Shelter
Unicoi State Park
Nearby Georgia State Park Unicoi State Park
features a lodge (100 rooms) and camping (82 sites), plus 30 cottages and something called the Squirrels Nest
, a special group campsite of 16 platforms sleeping 4 each.
Weather & Seasons
|Spring and Fall are considered by many the most pleasant time to visit the Southern Appalachians. |
Spring: In the Spring, daytime temperatures and warm and evenings are cool while the flowering shrubs are in bloom and the waterfalls are running. Water sources such as springs are most reliable this time of year.
Fall: In the fall, the broadleaf deciduous trees put on a bright display of autumn color, though waterfalls may not be as impressive and springs and other water sources less reliable. The air is cooler and crisper and visibility should be prime for long-range views.
Summer: Summer in this part of the country can be oppressively hot and humid and even the higher elevation and ample tree cover will not keep the hiker from feeling overheated, sticky and dirty. High humidity and haze plus deep leaf cover mean limited long-range vistas, though it is in summer that the term “temperate rainforest” will have the most meaning to and be most appreciated by the visitor.
Winter: Winter in the Southern Appalachians can range from cool and damp to cold and severe with bouts of deep snow following major storms. In other words, while this range may be relatively low in elevation and southern in latitude, mountains are still mountains and can bring unpredictable and potentially dangerous weather.
Trail rolling across summit White Oak and mist