Unicoi State Park Trails

Helen, Georgia

Unicoi State Park Trails Professional Review and Guide

"Unicoi State Park is the gateway to the higher mountains of the southern Appalachians and is one of the most popular parks in Georgia. Four well-marked trails in Unicoi State Park provide hikers with diverse habitat and degree of difficulty. Unicoi Lake T"

Unicoi State Park Trails Reviews

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5/10/2008
What a beautiful day for a hike. We enjoyed 70 degrees, low humidity, a light but steady breeze, and great company. We did the Coosa Backcountry Trail counter clockwise - a tough hike with plenty of elevation, varied terrain, foliage, and several good water sources. Coosa begins winding up and down crossing over GA 180 at Burnett Gap. Poison ivy is abundant over the next several miles so I recommend wearing convertibles or gators here. As we crossed the Wildcat Branch Fork footbridge we came upon a huge cluster of Monarch butterflies that dispersed as we approached, filling the air throughout the campsite with fluttering color. Here the trail begins its steady incline up through Locust Stake Gap and on to Calf Stomp Gap crossing over a forest service road and continuing about ½ mile to a backcountry camping area where we broke for lunch. Continuing up a couple of more miles we stopped briefly at the large campsite at Coosa Bald. There is a small rock outcrop here which provides one of the only views of the valley on this trail. From here it’s down hill toward Wolfpen Gap where the trail. There is a new section of trail here that has been cut into the mountainside around Wildcat Knob. Its pretty level and an easy hike, avoiding some of the more technical rocky parts of the previous route - which is now closed. Crossing back over GA 180 it’s a hard 1 mile climb up Slaughter Mountain. From Slaughter, its a long 5 mile hike back to Vogel. There is another new route cut here just past Slaughter Gap bypassing the old steep rocky step section and the creek crossing. We returned to the park via the shared Coosa / Bear Hair yellow trail for a total hike of roughly 13.5 miles in 7 hours. I would only recommend this trail for strong day hikers. It’s best for an overnight or weekend backpack outing.
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4/15/2006
Did this trail Saturday morning as a trail run and finished the loop in a bit under 5 hrs. Only about 2/3 of it was runable as much of the grade is 15-25% or more up and down. From my campsite in the state park, the round trip was a little over 5 hrs, 13.8 mi, 3800' ascent with the min. elevation at 2015' and max. at 4075'. I did this counter-clockwise, starting at the state park trailhead. This matches the profile from the visitor’s center even though it says clockwise in the lower right. After the climb to highway 180 (1.2 mi) you get a really nice relaxing 2.7 mi down to the lowest elevation where you cross a river and a dirt road. At this point you start climbing. For 3.6 mi! There is a half-mile section in the middle where the climb levels off, allowing your HR to return to something reasonable. Over the top there is a half mi downhill followed directly by a little less than a half mile uphill. After this short uphill, you get 0.7 mi down again (there is little flat area on this trail) at about 20% grade where it levels off as you reach highway 180 again. Cross the street and you begin about 900' in 1 mi of ascent. At the top it rolls for a half mi before heading down again. While there are some steep sections of this descent, most of it is runable. Enjoyable if you have been eating and drinking enough. I hadn’t been and it was slower than it could have been. I did have 1 wrong turn. When I approached highway 180 for the first time, there was a truck parked in front of the trail entrance and a dirt road to the left. I started across and followed the dirt road before looking at the map and returning to the truck. There were a couple of hunters a couple hundred feet from their truck, blowing their silly whistles. I only passed 1 other group of hikers the entire time out there. Nice. Anyway, this was a beautiful trail. I really enjoyed it. Even though I was in shorts and T-shirt (85 degrees), somehow missed getting any of the poison oak or poison ivy!
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3/26/2006
Great Strenuous Day Hike! Started at Wolfpen Gap going counter clockwise. Very surprised to find snow on the ground all the way to the top of Slaughter mountain and into Slaughter gap. Starting at Wolfpen gives you no warm up before you start the climb toward Slaughter Gap. The downhills were very steep and definitely hard on the knees. We had planned this as a day hike, so my pack weighed less than 20lbs. (about 10 lbs was water). Once you get o the top of Slaugter mountain, its down hill and somewhat fast hiking till you start the climb back toward Coosa Bald. We finished the hike in 5:45 with only a 15 minute break for food and rest. Water was plentiful, the wind was very strong and I dont the temperature ever got higher than 35-40 degrees. I will definitely be back on this loop, but as a day hike not an overnighter.
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11/7/2005
If you like to be challenged, the Coosa Backcountry Trail is right for you. The uphill's are more difficult than I expected, but a lot of fun. Not too many views and absolutely no water from the Footbridge to after Calf Stomp Gap (That's a difficult 1700ft elevation change in about 3 miles). We set up camp that night and ran out of water before morning. Pack light and make sure you load up on water at the Footbridge. I especially enjoyed hiking along the high elevations (for Georgia) of the Slaughter Mountain ridgeline and the descent back to Vogel Park was beautiful. Blood Mountain is not too far, if you'd like to stretch out the hike further. The trail map at the Visitor's Center is helpful, but the profile on the back confused many hikers we spoke with. It's recommended to hike the trail counterclockwise and I beleive reading the profile left to right is correct, however in the lower right corner, the map says "clockwise". I guess this is correct reading the map from right to left. Anyway, I recommend The Coosa if you want to push yourself for a day or two, but if scenerey is what you are after, you may want to try something else.
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4/20/2005
All of the reviews listed refer to the Coosa Backcountry, which is a rough one-day or moderate two-day hike. I've done it both ways & wouldn't recommend the one day unless you hike in the summer when you have more daylight hours to hike & enjoy eating your meals "on the go." Don't overlook the Bear Hair Gap Trail, which is a truly moderate hike to the top of the Gap for a lovely overlook of Vogel State Park. I did this hike with a novice hiker & he had no trouble. The top is a great place to picnic & not nearly as crowded as so many of the other spots similar to this one in the immediate area.
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4/13/2003
THIS TRAIL IS RATED MODERATE TO STRENUOUS. THERE IS ONLY ONE SHORT AREA I WOULD RATE MODERATE. I WOULD RATE THIS TRAIL STRENUOUS TO EXTREME. THIS IS A ROUGH TRAIL TO WALK WITH A BACKPACK. TRAIL IS WELL BLAIZED AND EASY TO FOLLOW, BUT IT EITHER GOES STRAIGHT UP OR STRAIGHT DOWN. THERE ARE SOME GOOD CAMPSITE'S AT THE 6.2 MILE MARKER. THE BEST CAMPSITE IS PAST THE 6.2 MILE MARKER ABOUT 1/4 MILE. THIS TRAIL IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS OR PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT IN GOOD PHYSICAL CONDITION. IT WILL KICK YOUR TAIL!!!
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5/3/2001
2 day hike. Get permits from ranger station, also is a convenience store. Walk to the trailhead about a quarter mile. There is a short approach trail followed by the Coosa Trail itself, about a 12.5 mile loop. Day 1 (9 miles) Follow the trail. There is an approach trail that leads to the trail making the total hike about 13.5 miles. Some is old forest road, some is trail. Most of the trail is either up or down, very little flat. Counter clockwise is the best direction to go for the switchbacks. The first half has adequate water supplies, after that the water gets scarce for about 5 miles or so. The trail does cross a paved road twice (same road, loops around) so a way out is possible if the trail is too much. Most of the climbs are close to 1000 feet and steep. There were 4 or so climbs the first day. Camping is allowed anywhere along most of the trail, although there are several established campsites along the way. Two are large, but a few are for one or two tents only. One of the large ones is at 6 miles, about the halfway point. Day 2 (4 miles). A hunter was walking along the trail about 6am before I woke up and Ember (my dog) growled and ran back and forth until he was gone. I ran into him later and Ember was OK with him then. Apparently people aren’‘t allowed close to camp while I’‘m still sleeping. Only one major hill left. Water available towards the end. This is a strenuous hike, even for my dog. At around 8.5 miles the paved road is crossed for the second time. About a half mile down this paved road is a water source (small stream). Then hike the half mile back up to the trail. I camped a few hundred yards up the trail from the road crossing, around 9 miles into the trail. weather info: Blairsville, GA 30512 The park has cabins, a convenience store and a campground with shower facilities. I was able to use the facilities as part of the entrance fee, $2/day. Permit required for the trail but permit itself is free, park pass is $2/day.
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Trail Information

Helen
Nearby City
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
2.5
Distance
Shuttle
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
About 1–1.5 hours
Duration
Mar–Dec
Season
USGS Helen and Tray Mountain
Local Maps
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Jun 2018