10 Off-Road Trails Near Atlanta That You Must Try!


Are you tired of driving on the highway and dealing with the rush hour traffic? It’d be nice if the time you’ve wasted sitting through that gridlock were spent on hitting the trails and seeing magnificent views, right?

Do you live in Atlanta? Well, you’re in luck! Georgia has one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the U.S. with its coastal edge in the southeast, the Chattahoochee National Forest in the far north, and a range of gorgeous mountains. So, if you are an off-road enthusiast, you will never be disappointed.

If you’re looking for the perfect trail to tackle on your next trip, there’s no shortage. So, here are some of the best trails near the city:

Corbin Creek Road

Difficulty: Easy

Trail Length: 10.3 miles

Trail Time: Around 1 hour

Terrain: Dirt and rock

Located just north of Helen, Georgia is Corbin Creek Road. Twisting and turning to the peak of Tray Mountain, this famous trail is the northernmost and most accessible path to Tray Gap, a small parking area, and the intersection with the famous Appalachian Trail. Aside from some great campgrounds, there are scenic views to the northwest that sets out over the Chinquapin Ridge – mainly in the winter months when no leaves are blocking the view. So regardless if you’re out day hiking the Appalachian Trail, looking for some secluded camping, or just out for a beautiful mountain drive, give Corbin Creek Road a look.

Corbin Creek Road can be run in both directions. Going north is primarily downhill while heading south is mostly uphill. Also, this once smooth gravel road has been worn down from use and weather over the years and is now quite rocky with a few small ruts. Grades are slight, and the way is wide enough with a lot of passing areas. Although passable by most vehicles in all conditions except during winter, ground clearance is helpful and makes for a much more pleasurable ride.

Currahee Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Trail Length: 2 miles

Trail Time: Around 20 minutes

Terrain: Rocky and undulated road surface

About 1 hour and 15 mins from Atlanta, Currahee Mountain Trail is not too far to go for a beautiful day in the mountains. The trail itself is a short drive with a fantastic view at the top. It is a simple trail that is regularly maintained, so it’s easily passable by almost any vehicle during every season. There are times when sections may be more challenging if there has been heavy rain recently. Keep on the lookout for hikers who may be making the trail on foot, too.

Currahee Mountain trail is within a short drive of Atlanta and has a beautiful view from the top as a great reward. The conditions of the path are mostly light gravel with Georgia clay beneath. In places, you will run across areas where there are ruts created by rainfall. The trail is pretty wide, allowing plenty of room to pass any hikers you may encounter.

Be on the lookout for other vehicles as this can be a busy trail on clear days when people want to see the view from the top.

Forest Service Road 333

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trail Length: 3 miles
Trail Time: Around 1 hour
Terrain: Rocky and undulated road surface
Following the Toccoa River at the base of John Dick Mountain, Forest Service Road 333 is the seldom-used northwestern road to enter the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area inside the Chattahoochee National Forest. This trail also has access to the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge down the Benton MacKaye Trail, a hiking trail that is more than 300 miles along the Appalachian Mountains that covers three states. With fishing, hiking, camping, and access to several other trails, Forest Service Road 333 is an exciting addition to any day in the mountains of North Georgia.
Forest Service Road 333 can be run in both directions. The eastern section of this trail from Rock Creek Road down to the Benton MacKaye Trail is a relatively smooth gravel road with one shallow water crossing making it suitable for most passenger vehicles with adequate ground clearance. The western part of the trail from the Benton MacKaye Trail until you reach Doublehead Gap Road is markedly rougher. The gravel is worn away in a lot of spots making it a very muddy road even after the slightest rain. This section of the trail is also rougher with a few small ruts, potholes, and uneven terrain making four-wheel drive recommended, especially in wet conditions.

Tray Mountain Road

Difficulty: Easy 

Trail Length: 8 miles

Trail Time: Around 1 hour

Terrain: Dirt, rocky, and gravel

Just north of Helen, Georgia lies Tray Mountain Road. Perhaps the most popular offroad trail in all of Georgia, this road climbs Tray Mountain to Tray Gap, a small parking area, and an intersection with the famous Appalachian Trail. The route follows along the ridge so there are spectacular views off one side or the other for the northern portion of the trail, especially in the winter months when there are no leaves on the trees blocking the view. With so many things to do and it’s proximity to Helen, don’t pass up Tray Mountain Road.

Tray Mountain Road can be run in either direction. Heading north is primarily uphill while heading south is mostly downhill. The road is rather smooth from the southern trailhead to Indian Grave Gap Road and suitable for most passenger vehicles in all conditions except snow and ice. From Indian Grave Gap Road to the northern trailhead, the road is much rockier and has some small ruts. While the four-wheel drive is not necessary for dry conditions, proper ground clearance is needed. This trail is mostly 1.5 to 2.0 vehicles wide, making for easy passing throughout.

Appalachian Blue Road

Difficulty: Difficult
Trail Length: 6 miles
Trail Time: Around 1-2 hours
Terrain: Mud and rock
Held dear to many are among the best trails in Georgia, the summit of Blood Mountain hosts an array of rocky cliffs and clearings that make for dramatic vistas that draw hordes of day hikers on any fair-weather day.
There is a debate about what “Blood Mountain” actually means; some believe it is referencing a bloody engagement between the Creek and Cherokee Indian tribes, while others think it may only be the red lichen that usually grows close to the summit. But one thing is for sure; this 4458-foot peak should is a must-try for anyone that would visit the mountains of North Georgia.
At the top of the summit sits a two-room stone shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in 1934 that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. It’s still a great place to get away from the hot sun or torrential rain if one happens to get past you during your trip.
The trailhead has very tricky parking spots. If the lot is filled with cars, you can park either at Vogel State Park or Neel’s Gap and take an alternate trail to avoid being ticketed by park rangers. From the trailhead of Byron Reece, there is a subtle climb that leads to Flatrock Gap, where the Appalachian Trail goes to the right and climbs quite steeply across many stone clearings before heading to the summit. On the way down the back of the mountain, you will pass by two trail junctions, and a campsite loop on your left before the sign leading to the Freeman Trail appears as a left turn at Bird Gap. It is very easy to miss, so always keep an eye out for it.
The Freeman Trail rises and falls along the foothills of the Blood Mountain across several streams and boulder fields before climbing back to Flatrock Gap and back to the trailhead. It is a perfect loop with fall colors, and it can easily be traveled loop with the alternate trails and remote camping. But you need to bring good cameras to take pictures!

Yonah Mountain

Difficulty: Difficult
Trail Length: 3.8 miles
Trail Time: Around 1 hour
Terrain: Paved road, mud, and rock
Yonah Mountain is a mountain ridge inside the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in northern Georgia located between the towns of Cleveland and Helen. The mountain is relatively prominent, and the trail rises 1,500 feet in less than 2 miles from the parking lot. “Yonah” is the Cherokee word, which means “bear.” According to a Native American legend, the mountain was the sight of a Romeo-and-Juliet-style death of a Cherokee maiden and Chickasaw warrior. When tribal elders forbade their love, the Chickasaw warrior was hurled from the mountain, and the maiden sprung after him to her death. The U.S. Army’s Fifth Ranger Training Battalion utilizes Yonah as a base for the mountain stage of Ranger School to practice rock climbing. The area is popular among hikers, climbers, and campers alike.
Beginning from the Yonah Mountain Trailhead right off the Chamber Road, follow the marked trail up 1,500 feet of increase in elevation in less than 2 miles, making it a short, but not easy, a path to the summit. The grassy bald on the peak makes for great camping with numerous viewpoints a short walk through the forest. There is limited water supply near the mountain’s summit, so bring extra if you plan on setting up camp. You should also be more careful near the edge, as the escarpment is sudden and steep. Hike down from the same way you came and make sure to arrive early as the lot fills up by late morning.

Horseshoe Ridge Road

Difficulty: Easy 

Trail Length: 9.2 miles

Trail Time: Around 1 hour

Terrain: Paved road

If you are searching for a trail that is a little closer to home, this trail is north of Atlanta but closer to Dahlonega, which you can reach on the 19. Also referred to as “Grassy Gap Road” on some maps, Horseshoe Ridge Road is considered of moderate difficulty but is an excellent choice for a lot of beginner off-road drivers too. There are a lot of places where you do not even need 4WD, though it certainly makes the trail a lot easier to handle.

One factor to consider is that this trail does have a lot of rocks to deal with. As such, you want to be sure you choose a GMC with plenty of clearance to be able to handle those rocks without damaging your vehicle. Otherwise, this is about eight miles of trail with a lot of nearby hiking paths to enjoy too.

Panther Creek Trail

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard 

Trail Length: 6.9 miles

Trail Time: Around 1-2 hours

Terrain: Rock, dirt, mud, and river crossings

The trail leaves from the opposite side of Historic 441 from the picnic area of Panther Creek. The hike follows its namesake creek downstream, going under a concrete overpass and plunging into a young, mossy hardwood forest. The route ventures into the woods, and the sounds of the highway slowly fall silent in the distance. The trail goes across a small tributary creek at just under half a mile.

The trail starts to climb, catching scenic views of the cascading creek far below as it travels through a clearing. The creek’s thunderous roar reverberates through the forest as it falls over several hidden waterfalls. The hike passes several campsites before getting close to a massive rock outcrop at around .85 miles. Due to heavy traffic in the trail, erosion has closed some portions of the trail in recent years, so follow the green path for this route.

The trail rolls elevation, passing by a forested area above the valley beside the creek. After that, the hike descends to the creek’s banks, passing a large campsite and crossing the stream over a large wood bridge after 1.5 miles.

The trail then goes into a flat, sandy floodplain on the western shore of the creek, going over the first of several small tributaries after 2 miles. After that, the hike crosses another bridge and moves past a large campground, climbing uphill and rising high. At the next mile, some sections of the trail drop sharply and suddenly to the stream below, and the trail is unusually narrow.

After 2.25 miles, the trail turns left at a fork and will lead you to a series of tumbling waterfalls. The route then scrambles over several massive, carved rock outcrops and makes a lot more tributary crossings, when it goes near the large waterfall further down the road.

The trail then goes into the beautiful, multi-tiered waterfalls of the upper falls at 3.4 miles. Small cascades flow over an extensive, tiered rock outcrop, gathering along banks filled with wildflowers and tall grasses.

The hike goes over a towering rock outcrop and goes down to the base of Panther Creek Falls, reaching the waterfall’s sandy shores after 3.5 miles. Large, toppled over boulders cover the creek’s sandy banks and make a great resting place to watch the beautiful, roaring waterfall.

After taking in some of the beauty of North Georgia, the hike leaves the falls, following the outbound route in the opposite direction. The trek then reaches the trailhead after 7 miles, completing the adventure.

East Palisades

Difficulty: Moderate 

Trail Length: 9.2 miles

Trail Time: Around 1 hour

Terrain: Dirt, mud, and river crossings

East Palisades feels like one of Atlanta’s best-kept gems. Over 300 acres of scenic lush forest isolation might not feel like a lot until you spend the time to walk the trails. It is part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, declared in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter, which protects a 48-mile area of the Chattahoochee River in the middle of Lake Lanier

 and Atlanta.

You can start the loop in the two parking areas. A brief drive on a gravel road just past some of the most beautiful homes in northwestern Atlanta, and you’ll need to pay $3 fee to get started. Start driving down the hill toward the Whitewater Creek Trails parking area and take a right to begin along the river. Also, signs will keep you informed of your current location and let you know when it’s time to climb the hill.

Once you reach the highest point, don’t miss the wooden lookout area for the best views of the entire loop, with optional sidetracks to the north across a little creek to the remnants of a mill along the river. Climb back up by following the map or signposts and walk the gravel road back to your car to finish up the hike.

Rocky Flats OHV Trails

Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Length: 2.3 miles
Trail Time: Around 30 minutes
Terrain: Dirt, mud, and river crossings
The Dukes Creek Trail hikes around 2 miles out and back through a scenic area filled with mountain streams forest in Georgia is located north of Helen. The trail descends along with a shallow, moss-filled stream, hiking to numerous large, massive waterfalls that tumble at the confluence of Davis and Dukes Creeks. At the falls, several sizeable wooden lookouts offer breathtaking views of the main attraction up above: the extraordinarily dramatic, multi-level, 150-foot-tall height of Dukes Creek Falls.
The trail’s reasonably short length and moderate elevation gain make it a popular hike for families with kids – or an excellent stop-off for travelers in this incredibly scenic part of North Georgia. Also, the first portion of the trail is paved and easily accessible, allowing all visitors (regardless of hiking skill levels) to catch a glimpse of the falls from the trail’s lookout point.

Related Questions

Where Can I Ride My Dirt Bike In Atlanta?

Located in Georgia, the dirt biking in Atlanta offers a half-dozen good dirt bike riding options. The best Atlanta dirt biking based on popularity are considered to be Highland Park Resort, A Place To Ride MX, Talking Rock Arena, Sunnyside Paradise, and Lazy River Motocross.

Can You Ride An ATV On The Sidewalk?

ATVs must be registered. ATVs may not be driven on the street, public highway, or sidewalk. An ATV may be towed across or along such an open way if it is in neutral or that the power train is disengaged.

What states are UTV street legal?

Most states allow counties and towns to set their standards. Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Texas, Minnesota, Wyoming, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, North and South Dakota, Washington, Michigan, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, Vermont, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Colorado (HB15-1054) have laws that allow their use.

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