Try these great FREE outdoor resources: 800+ Georgia Trail Maps or try the Discover Georgia Trails App

DO IT: Hiking - Bear Creek Trail Lower Loop – Chattahoochee National Forest

Bear Creek Trail Lower Loop – Chattahoochee National Forest -

The trailhead is accessible from Ellijay by taking the Chatsworth, GA Highway 52/2 northwest out of Ellijay. Take a right on Gates Chapel Road, then turn right onto Forest Service (FS) Road 241. Coming from Dalton, Chatsworth and other points west, take GA Highway 52/2 East to Sam Hill Road/Highway 64, turning left. Follow Sam Hill Road until it joins Gates Chapel Road, taking a left. Follow to Forest Service 241 and turn right. The trailhead is approximately one mile on the right, with parking.

Upon entering the trail, Bear Creek will be running to your right, the stream flowing down from the peak of the hilltops.

Prepare to get the blood pumping as you will ascend during the first mile of this hike. The exciting part of this section is the constant sounds of Bear Creek that keep you company. Mountain biking is also permitted on Bear Creek Trail, so keep an eye out for faster moving companions.

At mile 0.2 the trail joins with the Pinhoti Trail as you continue upstream. The damp valley is home to many Georgia hemlocks, along with standing and fallen pines. By the time you reach mile 0.5 you will have crossed Bear Creek several times. Occasionally you will experience an opening in the forest, allowing for views of the skies.

As you approach mile 0.8, you will reach the surprise of this trail, the Gennett Poplar. The giant poplar tree is the second largest in Georgia, measuring 18 feet in diameter. The tree is really a tulip, though, or yellow poplar, with orange and yellow flowers in the spring.

Continuing on to mile 1.0, you have a choice to extend the Bear Creek hike to 6.4 miles by following the trail straight. To stay on the Loop, the Pinhoti Trail leaves Bear Creek Trail to the right. The cut-through on Pinhoti is brief; it continues to the northwest as you make the turn to the right and head back down the ridge.

The descent back to the trailhead is made easier by the grassy, more open path, which was part of a former road that was seeded, creating a linear clearing. Here you may see wildlife such as birds, turkey, and deer crossing the path in these open canopies. There are several of these clearings along the switchbacks heading down the Loop.

Ending the Loop at the 2.9-mile mark, you will cross Bear Creek one last time. Only this time, be prepared to dip your feet in, as this is one of the wider points of the creek.

Trail Maps

Interactive Map:

Featured Attractions