Today’s hike was an exclamation point on a great week. Richie, my right-hand man from the office joined me today as did my wife, daughter, son and two dogs.
We got an early start right after a great breakfast at the cabin Lynn had prepared.
Our start was from the parking area below Neel Gap. Here the Byron Reese trail leads to Flatrock Gap. At this point you can catch the AT to the right up the steepest ascent of Blood Mountain, go to the left on the AT to Neel Gap, or go straight ahead on the Freeman trail. The Freeman Trail goes half-way around Blood Mountain to rejoin the AT at Bird Gap. To the left takes you South toward Turkey Stamp & Gaddis Mountains. Woods Hole Shelter can be reached not far from this point from a side trail. To the right on the AT from Bird Gap takes you up the less steep side of Blood Mountain. It is still steep, just not as bad as the other side. When you reach the foot of the mountain just before the steep ascent you will see the Slaughter Creek trail off to the left. This leads down to lake Winfield Scott. Continue up the mountain on the AT until you reach the Blood Mountain Shelter at the summit. This shelter was built by the civilian conservation corps in 1934, later restored by the GATC. Click here for an informative piece about it’s history and restoration. The summit is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail in GA at 4,459′ and is the sixth tallest mountain in GA. There are great views atop of a large rock formation at the top known by regulars as picnic rock. This where I set up a 20 meter inverted V. My first contact for the day was the Czech republic. Others around the US and Canada followed. 11 QSO’s in all. A group of young engineers from NASA in Huntsville were on the summit and were really impressed with the set up and contacts I made. We packed up and headed back down the Mountain. This side has some really great views close to the top. As I have said, it is very steep on this side. If you take this loop route I highly recommend you walk a few hundred yards further on the AT and see the balancing rock. Very cool formation shown in my pics link below. Also not to be missed is the Walasi-Yi Interpretive Center at Neel Gap. You can hike back to the parking area, or continue straight on the AT to Neel Gap and from there walk on the road back to your car. Be careful if you do. The drivers on this road are wide open. The safer route would be to drive back up to Neel Gap to visit the Center. This is the first mail drop for North bound thru-hikers on the AT. There is a hostel here and a great store for quality hiking gear. Traditionally many thru-hikers will mail the store their boots when they finish the entire AT. There are a lot of boots hanging from the ceiling signed by their former owners. They must fumigate these or else the store would really stink. Here’s a link for more info on the center.
Some maps have this loop at 8 miles, some guides say 6. My wife’s hiking app said 9 miles. I intend to pull the track from my Garmin GPS and post here in the future with an accurate mileage. All in all a classic great hike to add to your list.