|Trail Length: 5.4 miles||Type of trail: In and out|
|County: Union County, GA||Our rating: D|
|Features: stream, picnicking, historic, camping, ATaccess||Your rating:|
|Usage: Medium||Added on: January 01, 1994|
|Last hiked: October 02, 2005||Updated on: December 03, 2010|
|About these ratings|
Hiking trails in Union County, GA
Two Indian tribes called North Georgia home starting in the 1500's. By the late 1600's the Cherokee and Creek had begun to compete for the same resources and fought a battle on the mountain near Slaughter Gap. The Creek lost, ceding Blood Mountain to the Cherokee, who considered it a holy place. Archaeological evidence has been discovered that tends to back the story of the battle, but the date of the battle and its participants are still hotly disputed.
Today the trail rises through second growth hardwoods, beneath which massive stands of rhododendron and laurel compete for the remaining sunlight. Some hikers refer to the alternating stands as "lauredendron," which at times grow tall enough to form a canopy over the Slaughter Creek Trail. One of the easiest access hikes to the AT the trail is pretty much all uphill, but unlike some of the AT access trails, it does not become steep near the top.
Slaughter Creek forms the beautiful Lake Winfield Scott. Beginning on a level roadway just over a bridge across the creek before it enters the lake, the trail is on the left. At the first wooden bridge turn left and continue, climbing an old roadbed through a stand of rhododendron. The trail leaves the roadbed and descends to a moist cove, crossing a creek on a bridge. Notice the old bridge, a large log, on the right before the bridge. The footpath then rises to a road. The Jarrard Gap Trail is to the right while Slaughter Gap is straight ahead. Curving left, the trail begins the climb to Slaughter Gap. On the lower portion of the trail bridges carry you across Slaughter Creek's tributaries, but after a mile (two wooden bridges and two "land bridges") the crossings are all wet foot. After a wet-foot crossing at 1.4 miles over a particularly wide stream, there is a nice rock on the left, a great place to enjoy the babbling brook on your right.
After this crossing the pathway winds deep into coves to cross rivers, and occasionally narrows on rocky paths. There are a couple of spots that may cause problems with hikers who are afraid of heights. As you approach Slaughter Gap the sound of the creek diminishes and the old trail comes in on the left. This completes the Slaughter Creek Trail. Turn around and return to your car to make the round-trip distance of 5.4 miles.
Of course, for a slightly longer hike you can bear right on the Appalachian Trail and follow it to the Jarrard Gap Trail. By combining these three trails the total hike will be 6.1 miles (2.7 miles on Slaughter Creek, 2.0 miles on the AT, 1.4 on the Jarrard Gap Trail). A second option is to turn left and climb a set of rock stairs that carry hikers into the Blood Mountain Wilderness and the stunning views from the top of the second tallest mountain in Georgia. The hike to the top and back adds 2.8 miles making a total trek of 8.2 miles. Camping is available, both at a primitive camping area below the top of the mountain and the famous Blood Mountain shelter at the top. The Duncan Ridge Trail is about half-way up the trail on the left.