Rocky slabs provide fine overlooks
Sitting on the border of Lumpkin and Union Counties in the highcountry of northeast Georgia, Wolf Laurel Top is quite the treat for AT hikers. The actual summit is indistinct and tree-covered, like many summits in the area, but features a fine (dry) campsite in the general summit area. It’s the views from the southeast aspect of Wolf Laurel Top that draw visitors near the top of this peak. Along with these views, proximity to Neels Gap and fine condition of the Appalachian Trail makes this peak a fairly popular day outing.
Just southeast of the highpoint, dark rock ledges jut out from the grass and shrubs providing open vistas of surrounding mountains, including an impressive close-up of nearby Cow Rock Mountain
. Off in the eastern distance is the distinct form of Yonah Mountain
. The Wolf Laurel Top overlooks are a dramatic experience in an an area of generally softer terrain.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Chattahoochee National Forest Springer Mountain to Bly Gap GEORGIA
Rank & Prominence Source: Lists of John
Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway Tesneete Gap (3,138 feet)
The AT crosses very near summit of Wolf Laurel Top, though nothing I found indicated the highpoint had been reached (such as a cairn or other marker). As with many mountains in this region, the highpoint is rather indistinct.
From the west (AT Northbound):
The peak can be accessed from the west via Neels Gap (elevation 3,109 feet) for an undulating, approximately 6.5 mile roundtrip outing. To reach Neels Gap from Dahlanega (about 60 miles north of Atlanta), follow U.S. 129/19 roughly 22 miles north.
From the east (AT Southbound):
For a shorter but steep outing, park where the AT intersects GA 348 (Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway) at Tesneete Gap (3,138 feet) for an undulating approximately 4.5 mile roundtrip, including an ascent of Cow Rock Mountain both ways.
NE from the overlooks Close-up of Cow Rock Mountain Rain starting to fall
SE from the overlooks
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. Wolf Laurel Top lies within the 9,100 acre Raven Cliffs Wilderness.
|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
Cow Rock Mountain
AT Backpacker Camping
The nearest shelter to Wolf Laurel Top is the Whitley Gap Shelter. This small shelter sleeps only about 6 people and requires a 1.2 mile side-trip from the main AT corridor.
The Walasi-Yi Center
at Neels Gap has lodging in their historic hiker hostel. The hostel is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, lodging is available on a first come, first served basis.
Taking in the views Summit area campsite
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 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.