One of Georgia's oldest and most popular state parks, Vogel is located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Driving from the south, visitors pass through Neel Gap, a beautiful mountain pass near Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia. Vogel is particularly popular during the fall when the Blue Ridge Mountains transform into a rolling blanket of red, yellow and gold leaves. Hikers can choose from a variety of trails, including the popular four-mile Bear Hair Gap loop, an easy one-mile lake loop, and the challenging 13-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail. Cottages, campsites and primitive backpacking sites provide a range of overnight accommodations. The parks 22-acre lake is open to non-motorized boats. During summer, visitors can cool off at the scenic lakeside beach.
Just finished a two day backpacking trip starting at Vogel state park and doing the Coosa back country trail, dropping down via the Duncan Ridge Trail onto the AT. I went south on the AT to slaughter creek, and took that down to Jarrad Gap road, where I cut over (maybe 100 yards on dirt road) to the Jarrard gap trail, back up to the AT, and then headed north to blood mountain (with minimal backtracking in between slaughter creek and duncan ridge trail turn offs) Spent the night on blood mountain, went back south on the AT to Duncan Ridge Trail and back on to the Coosa Back country trail back to Vogel state park.
While on the Coosa BCT there were almost no hikers and plenty of camp sites, with beautiful fall foliage and, while there were occasional car sounds, I was generally treated to the glorious soundtrack of nature. There was a LOT of poison ivy right next to the trail so watch out for that if you're seriously allergic.
Once I cut over the AT there were a lot more people, but it was still beautiful. The detour down slaughter creek was nice if you're looking for a longer day. I'm a fast hiker and it took me about 6 hours to do my full route to blood mountain.
On the way back from blood mountain I decided to stay on the Coosa BCT and not take the Bear Hair gap trail, which was a mistake since the Coosa trail dumps you into about a half mile of RV campsites while the bear hair gap trail bypasses these.
All in all a great 2 night loop with minimal backtracking and a nice amount of alone time on the trail.
Steve W. on Coosa Backcountry Trail
As stated in other reviews, great trail with some challenging uphills; overall very rewarding. Tree coverage provides great shade along entire route but does block visibility (no panoramic views). Quiet, not too busy, very green with undergrowth. You will hear road noise throughout most of the trail.
We hiked with full packs (20-25 lbs) with an overnight on Coosa Bald to break in/test some new gear. If camping on or near Coosa Bald there isn't water very close (like the top of most mountains) as noted in other reviews, but the map was accurate on water sources and we just picked up a few liters at the closest crossing on our way to the top.
We did Vogel to Coosa (counter clockwise loop) in ~4.5 hours and Coosa back to Vogel in ~4 hours*. Definitely doable in a day with packs and in decent shape, but enjoyable as an overnight. We ended up on the Bear Hair trail near the end due to confusion over signage and blazes (approx ~1 mi from end, 3100 ft). In hindsight, the map and highlighted trail was accurate, we chose poorly and added a nice walk down the bear hair trail :).
Although we enjoyed Coosa Bald, there were a few campsites we saw on the DRT just beyond the Bald (Wildcat Knob area) that were very nice as well; plenty of options with fire rings.
Very loud road noise from motorcycles made it sound like the park was under attack from a swarm of giant mutant mosquitoes. Trashy trails and rude hikers ignoring signs to stay on the trail and off waterfalls kind of killed the rest of the experience. We made the best of it and had a decent time, but won't be going back.