|From Tray Mountain|
Just outside of the very popular town of Helen, stand many interesting short wilderness trips. About 9 miles to the north, you can quite easily scale the seventh tallest mountain in Georgia, and the second tallest point on the Appalachian Trail, Tray Mountain. The mountain rises 4,430 ft and can be accessed from several places, depending on the length of the hike you want.
If you turn up the dirt road called tray mountain round, there is a circular parking place a few miles up where you get a simple and straight shot up the mountain that can't be more than a mile with a raise in elevation of about 400 feet. Or you can park on Indian Gap Road where the Andrews Cove Trail ends a run up the mountain from that point (this is the way we chose), getting a raise in elevation of about 1100 feet over 3.5 miles. Or the more adventurous path from the Andrews Cove Trail head or Unicoi Gap, creating much longer hikes of 7-10 miles. Any way you slice it, it is a neat diversion from the touristy (I'm not saying that in a bad way) town of Alpine Helen.
Tray Mountains peak is the boundary for White and Towns counties and from the summit to the north there is a nice view of the Nantahala Mountains in North Carolina. Also, the rare double waterfalls called Anna Ruby Falls, originate from the mountain and can be accessed via Unicoi State Park.
Along our path, we encountered some truly breathtaking views, some very colorful and beautiful flowers, and few interesting day and through Hikers. It was the first time, I've encountered a bear (which is a godless killing machine), I was too shocked to work my camera and it thankfully moved away quickly.
I said in a previous post that the greatest resource of natural beauty in the area is our North Georgia Mountains, The short summit hike is a simple way for anyone to encounter this first hand.