Red Columbine on Justus Mountain
Justus Mountain is a pleasant Appalachian Trail peak in northern Georgia. Its slopes and summits are covered in dense hardwoods and the forest floor is blanketed in a riot of wild flowers including several varieties of trillium, wild geranium and stunning red columbine. In places, thickets of may apple cover the forest floor as far as the eye can see. There are no grand views from the top of Justus Mountain, but the Appalachian Trail winds a meandering way across the long summit ridge, a welcome relief to those on the trail growing wearing of climbing out of gaps, back up to the ridgeline, and back into another gap before beginning another climb.
Trails Illustrated Map:
#777 Springer & Cohutta Mountains
highest peak in Georgia
Rank & Prominence Source: Lists of John
Getting There & Route Information
Justus Mountain rises just to the east of Cooper Gap, where GA 15/80 and GA 42 converge. From Cooper Gap, the top of the mountain requires about ½ mile of hiking with 400 feet of elevation gain.
There is no red tape that I’m aware of in this part of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Camping & Lodging
Justus Mountain Trillium Trillium on Justus Mountain
Wild germanium on Justus Mountain Plentiful wild geranium
The nearest Appalachian Trail shelter to Justus Mountain is the Gooch Mountain Shelter, roughly three miles northbound on the AT from the top of Justus Mountain. The newer, established tent pads above Justus Creek are approximately 1.5 miles northbound from Justus Mountain.
Len Foote Hike Inn:
This 20-room eco lodge provides small rooms with one 2-level bunk bed (adjoining rooms available), a clean bathhouse with running water and composting toilets, several comfortable common/social areas (inside and out) and delightful meals cooked by talented staff. Visit this site (www.hike-inn.com) to learn more.
Amicalola Falls State Park Lodge:
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources hosts a 56-room lodge within Amicalola Falls State Park. Visit this site (http://www.amicalolafalls.com/) for more details.
A decent variety of lodging options can be found in nearby Dahlonega, GA, about 19 miles from the Amacalola Falls State Park entrance. Visit this Trip Advisor page
Dawsonville, Georgia, is only 16 miles away from the entrance to Amacalola Falls State Park. Visit this Trip Advisor page
Weather & Seasons
Official Ground Cover of Justus Mountain
Spring and Fall are considered by many the most pleasant time to visit the Southern Appalachians.
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.
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.
Summers 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 in the South 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.