Tray Mountain Hike

March 30, 2016

This hike scales to the summit of Tray Mountain, and it’s one of the most popular on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. For a good reason, too: the views from the mountain’s summit are simply stunning. This 5-mile roundtrip route explores a beautiful valley terrain at Indian Grave Gap before climbing a scenic ridgeline to the mountain’s summit.

It’s an adventure chock-full of classic North Georgia mountain beauty. The hike tunnels through dense, gnarly-branched canopies of mountain laurel and rhododendron, offering copious blooms in late spring and early summer. Mosses and ferns blanket the forest floor in this shady, sun-dappled wilderness. On the Tray Mountain summit, abundant views spread to the north and south, including Lake Chatuge, the nearby Anna Ruby Falls waterfall valley, and the iconic Yonah Mountain. All-around, it’s a great, classic hike on a beautiful stretch of the AT in Georgia.

The hike departs a gravel parking area, hiking the white-blazed Appalachian Trail eastbound near the base of Rocky Mountain. The trail ascends through a forest filled with gnarled and twisted rhododendron and mountain laurel. The evergreen canopy shades the forest floor, helping shade-loving vibrant green mosses and ferns to thrive in the dappled sunlight.

The trail begins a considerably steeper ascent, meandering through switchbacks on a noticeably steeper incline on the mountain’s lower elevations. The AT reaches the Tray Mountain summit at 2.5 miles, a 1250-foot climb from Indian Grave Gap. The wind-swept trees hugging the mountain’s high elevation disperse at the peak, offering views of sweeping vistas on both sides of the trail. Large slabs of granite angle skyward at the summit, providing outstanding overlooks of the surrounding forest valley and the distant peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Chattahoochee National Forest. The mountain’s views are particularly impressive during the crisp fall and winter months.

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