Benton MacKaye Trail

Blairsville, Georgia 30512

Benton MacKaye Trail

Benton MacKaye Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Named for Benton MacKaye, who provided the inspiration for establishing the Appalachian Trail (AT), this path provides a challenge for any serious hiker. The trail extends in a sweeping S shape to the north and west through Georgia from the trailhead on S"

Benton MacKaye Trail Reviews

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Nice ease trails. Good quiet sleeping areas in off-season.
Wonderful area. Nice trial. Beautiful hike. I loved the lake and the common area. It is a wonderful location. The trail was mostly moderate but at a quick pace could be more strenuous. My son and his friend (13 at the time) enjoyed the hike too. The lake, the running water, the sun on the trees, the quietude made for a great afternoon. My friends enjoyed the area a great deal.
I did the Slaughter Creek -> AT -> Jarrard Gap loop. The Slaughter Creek postion has some more strenuous sections than the guide implies. The AT section is poorly blazed, and what few blazes I could find were very faded. The signage back to the Jarrard Gap sectionis poor, with a turn down a FS road, followed by a quick and easy to miss turn to the left. The end of this section is confusing as well. The whole loop only took me 3 hours. Overall, this is a great loop.
We made a 2 day backpacking trip out of the Slaughter Creek -> AT -> Jarrard Gap loop. Arrived the first night at Lake Winfield Scott rec. area, car camped at the public camping area there, and then headed out on the Slaughter Creek Trail the next day. Where the Slaughter Creek trail intersects with the AT, there are some stone stairs leading uphill that will take you past the Blood Mtn Tent Pads (our 2nd camp) and continue to the summit of Blood Mtn. We set up camp and left our gear at the tent pads prior to heading to the summit of Blood Mtn and back down. The next morning, headed back downhill on the AT to where the Slaughter Creek intersects, and continued down the AT until we came to a large, group campsite with signposts. The "Lake Winfield Scott" sign pointed to the right at the trail intersection, however that was a bit confusing b/c after 20 yards down what looked to be a forestry service road, a trail w/ blue blazes branced off to the left. We were unsure of which path was the Jarrard Gap trail to Lake Winfield Scott. After some deliberation, we took the blue blazed trail instead of the road, which ended up being correct. The loop was fabulous, moderate hiking, very scenic, and fall colors were superb. The only downside was there could have been some additional signage to avoid confusion, and also we were given a $50 citation by a ranger for having a campfire at the Blood Mtn Tent Pads. Apparantly campfires are banned there, but when it's 35 degrees at night, it's tough to resist building one to stay warm!
Started @ lake winfield hiked on the slaughter trail. climbed up slaughter mountain resturned to lake windfield in 5hrs. Stopped on top of mountain for 30 min for lunch. I hiked a few trails before. I would say that this trial loop( AT, jaarad Gap, slaughter trail) had moderately strenous spots. A few streams great, view from the 4k foot mountain if the weather permits, the vegetation lush and green.
The Jarrard Gap Trail and the Slaughter Creek Trail both use the same trail head. I turned right and went up the Jarrard Gap Trail first. When it met the Appalachian Trail I turned left and went to the top of Blood Mountain,passing by the end of the Slaughter Creek Trail. At the top of Blood Mountain I turned around and came back to the Slaughter Creek Trail, turned right on it and returned back to Lake Winfred Scott. These are all excellent trails and I recomend them highly. A very good day hike of about 9 miles.
It's important to note the difference here between the very easy trail around the small lake and the two trails that access the Appalachian-- the Slaughter Gap Trail & the Jarrard Gap Trail. These two trails make an excellent loop hike that even novice hikers can enjoy.
Fairly easy hiking with lots of green and a nice lake. Just beware of the showers next to the lake-Ice cold with so much pressure that you think you are going to lose some skin.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
About 6–7 days
Mar–June; Oct–Dec
USGS Nimblewill, Noontootla, Wilscot, Blue Ridge, Cashes Valley, Dyer Gap, Hem Top
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018