Sunday, May 7, 2017, Freeman Trail and Blood Mountain, Union County­

Posted under: North Georgia .

Sunday, May 7, 2017,     10:00 am

Trip Leader:  John French

Description:  We will meet at the Byron Herbert Reese (BHR) Parking Area and hike the first 0.7 miles on the BHR Trail, which switchbacks through rhododendron and mountain laurel up stone staircases to Flatrock Gap, where the Freeman Trail begins. The Freeman Trail winds around the south side of Blood Mountain, over a rugged and rocky terrain, crossing several small rocky streams and rock outcrops. At this elevation, the woods should be awake with spring wildflowers, such as lady’s-slippers (Cypripedium spp.), wood-lilies (Clintonia spp.), possibly some early trilliums (T. erectum, T. grandiflora, T. undulatum) and some remaining toothworts (Cardamine spp.). There is a sizeable relic American chestnut tree on the south edge of the trail just before Bird Gap.

After 1.8 miles, we will reach Bird Gap and the Appalachian Trail (AT). At this point, some of us may backtrack to the parking lot on the Freeman Trail (for a moderate, round-trip hike of 5 miles). Others may want to proceed on the AT to the summit of Blood Mountain, then descend back to Flatrock Gap junction via the AT, then back down the Reese Trail to the parking lot (a strenuous hike of 6.8 miles).

Directions to Meeting Location:  10:00 a.m. at the Byron Herbert Reese parking area on the west side of U.S. Hwy 129 north, about 0.5 mile north of the Mountain Crossing Appalachian Trail Store at Neel’s Gap. Neel’s Gap is 18 (slow and curvy) miles north of Cleveland. There may be a $5.00 parking fee to park at the BHR lot; parking is not allowed at the Trail Store.

Bathroom Facilities: None on the trail; bathrooms, snacks, water, etc at the Trail Store.

Walking Difficulty: The BHR trail is moderately steep. The Freeman Trail is relatively flat but there are some very large, tricky boulders to scramble over and several rocky streams to cross. Ankle-protecting boots strongly advised; hiking stick may be useful.

Bring: Lunch, snacks, and water. Dress for spring weather with possible thunderstorms. 

Contact: John French, 678-575-1655 or frenchjrfry@att.net