Hike the Yonah Mountain Trail thru a rocky, wildflower-filled forest, hiking this iconic mountain to outstanding summit views and remarkable backpacking campsites close to Helen, Georgia.
With great views, steep drop-offs, and a quite difficult but ultra-scenic climb to the summit, the Yonah Mountain Trail grants one of North Georgia’s fine and most famous hikes. Yonah rises from the foothills of Georgia’s southern Appalachian Mountains, jutting skyward from the rolling panorama between Cleveland and Helen. The mountain’s asymmetrical, iconic form and massive, uncovered rock outcrops close to the summit lend to its recognition with hikers and climbers.
It’s a quite strenuous hike, with a continuous, unrelenting upward climb to the summit and a few scrambles over boulders – however the views from the summit are honestly stunning.
This out-and-back, just-over-four-mile spherical trip hike travels from the mountain’s base to the Yonah Mountain summit on a meandering path and gravel roadbed. The hike explores a rocky, mossy, boulder-filled wooded area that blossoms in springtime with plentiful wildflowers, and passes a couple of campsites along the way. At the summit, far-flung vistas extend in extensive panoramas to the horizon, catching high-quality views from multiple rocky, steep outcrops. It’s an equally tremendous wildflower-spotting springtime hike, a extremely good fall-leaf-spotting hike in autumn, and a outstanding snow-spotting hike in winter.
Yonah Mountain Trail: the hike
The hike departs a trailhead off Chambers Mountain Road south of Helen (view maps and riding directions), accessed from a short stretch of gravel road. The path dives via a grove of younger hardwoods and gnarly-branched mountain laurel, without delay opening its summit-bound climb as it departs the trailhead.
The hike crosses a small bridge over a trickling movement at .3 mile. The path arcs southbound, carving thru the first of quite a few switchbacks at .5 mile and passes a small campsite beside an enormous, fissured boulder at .6 mile.
The path continues its reputedly skyward climb, ascending two sets of stone stairs at .8 mile. The hike scrambles through a small, angular boulder discipline at 1 mile. (A range of side paths, main to climbing routes, veer off the important trail. The major Yonah Mountain Trail is typically the wider of the trails, and is frequently well-blazed with vivid green trail blazes at complicated intersections.) In the springtime, the trail’s boulder-filled panorama fills with brilliant wildflowers.
The path reaches a wide, grassy clearing with a couple of campsites at 1.2 miles, grabbing some stunning mid-hike views from a boulder at the clearing’s western edge. Departing the clearing, the hike follows a gravel road northbound, and the climb shortly intensifies. The hike reaches an intersection at 1.5 miles and turns right, following the gravel avenue eastbound and continuing the climb.
The gravel avenue enters a small US Army training camp at 1.6 miles. From the camp, more than a few trails break up in more than one directions; for the easiest route to the summit, the hike continues following the gravel road, the widest of the trails, veering left at all the essential trail intersections. The hike pauses for a can’t-miss view at 1.85 miles, accessed with the aid of a slight veer to the right on a side trail. From this rocky vantage point, farmland peppers Yonah’s surrounding, rolling landscape, and birds of prey bounce overhead in thermal updrafts. It’s a high-quality area to seize a speedy smash (and high-quality view) before the closing climb to the summit. Cowrock Mountain, a distinguished top on the close by Appalachian Trail, dominates the view on the northwestern horizon.
Continuing on the gravel road, the hike veers left again at 2 miles. The path crests the Yonah Mountain summit at 2.2 miles, getting into a wide-open, grassy mountaintop meadow dotted with stone campsite hearth rings. The mountain’s green, rounded peak stands at 3166 feet, a 1400-foot climb from the trailhead a ways below.
Side trails lead beyond the treeline that rings Yonah Mountain’s grassy summit. Views from these trails are fantastic – however the drop-offs are sheer, unexpected and extraordinarily dangerous. If you pick to discover the summit besides climbing gear, be extraordinarily careful and remain well away from the edge. One wrong step or slip ought to be without a doubt horrific news.
The breezy, sun-drenched summit makes a first-rate spot to dangle out in an ENO hammock, grab a snack or cloud gaze in the grassy clearing before the hike again down. Departing the summit, the hike retraces its steps in reverse, reaching the trailhead at 4.4 miles and finishing the adventure.
Yonah Mountain: backpacking & campsites
Primitive tenting is handy at the Yonah Mountain summit and mid-elevation base camp. Campsites are first-come, first camp, so be certain to arrive early for the high-quality spots, particularly on warm-weather weekends.
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