Hike the Appalachian Trail to Preacher's Rock

Woody Gap Trailhead

Take a short hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT) to Preacher’s Rock for arguably the best mountain view in Georgia. The view from Preacher’s Rock is an expansive one, facing Cowrock Mountain and Yonah Mountain to the East, and Columbia Ridge and Meadow Gap to the South.

The hike to Preacher’s Rock along the AT starts at the Woody Gap trailhead.  There is usually enough parking, but I would still recommend either getting there early in the morning or later in the evening.  From the trailhead, you will follow the white blazes of the AT heading Northwest, through the Rhododendron and Hemlock forest.  The trail begins relatively flat, with only a gentle climb.  There are a couple backcountry campsites scattered along this section of trail closest to the trailhead.

After about 0.7 miles, the trail gets markedly steeper.  A series of switchbacks will climb over 400 feet in about 0.4 miles.  Since this climb is fairly short and not sustained over a significant period of time, I would not consider it particularly strenuous.  However, it is definitely enough of a workout to make you break a sweat.

Just after you complete your first mile, you will see that the trail begins to flatten out again, before it opens up to Preacher’s Rock at 3,510 feet of altitude.  Preacher’s Rock is a spectacular rock feature that boasts a wide open view.  The rock slopes down the mountain for about 100 feet, giving you great visibility above the tree-line.  If you are dedicated enough to either camp at one of the campsites near the top or to come early enough, catching a sunrise here rivals any spot in Georgia. 

After you are done soaking in the magnificent Appalachian view, an easy return hike will find you back at the parking lot in no more than 30 minutes.  With a good amount of down-time at the top, you could be finished with this trail in an hour and a half.  If this is not enough for you, you can extend the hike significantly by heading towards Blood Mountain, or you can check out other short hikes in the area, such as the Hike to Desoto Falls.

Pack List

* Hiking Boots

* Water

* Camera

* Small day pack

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RT Distance 2.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 644 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Sweet hike with sweeter views

This is a pretty short, sweet hike that lands you a gorgeous view at Preacher’s Rock. It seems like a different place with each season - check it out in winter time for the most dramatic views and sounds (massive trees creaking against each other in the wind). Try to head up early in the morning or on a weekday to avoid the crowded parking lot or too many other hikers. Backpackers: if you take the other trail at the base of the parking lot, you’ll experience less people and can snag a really lovely campsite with great views overlooking more mountain just a couple miles in; keep going through Gooch Gap to get to the nearest AT shelter.

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