Appalachian Trail: Unicoi Gap to Tray Gap

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Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

Appalachian Trail: Unicoi Gap to Tray Gap is a 10.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Hiawassee, Georgia that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 10.8 miles Elevation Gain: 3,553 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

The current response to the COVID-19 emergency has closed several trails and recreation sites in Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests. Please see website for up to date info: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/conf/recreation

hiking
bugs
4 days ago

Jonathan Steinmetz's review below is spot on. Doing this hike in May, the main difference is that the greenery at the top of Tray Mountain is fairly overgrown, obscuring the viewpoint a bit. Not sure if this is the case all summer long, but when I went, there were also a LOT of flies at the top of Tray Mountain. After taking a quick look at the top, I opted to go back down about a fifth of a mile to the smaller overlook point where there weren't as many flies to sit and eat lunch. Beware, I did find a little hitchhiker (aka a tick) on the back of my leg once I got up to head back down the mountain. You may want to bring along a pad to sit on, or at the very least just make sure you do a tick check here and there if you're hiking in the spring or summer. Overall, this was a very pleasant hike - perfect if you're looking for something a little more strenuous but doable in half a day (I finished this hike in 4.5 hours including rest time). Bring at least 1.5 or 2 liters of water and some trekking poles and you'll be in for a good time.

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
snow
2 months ago

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
snow
4 months ago

This hike kicked my butt. The other reviews are spot on with the elevation and how the trail just goes up.

hiking
6 months ago

Did this with a hiking buddy on Wednesday, 6 November 2019. I thought the trail was in great shape and could tell that the maintainers had been out that same day or a day earlier. All the wash-outs had been cleaned and raked. Leaves all over the trail but not a one in the wash-outs. I expected to see them at the shelter but they must not have stayed overnight. Instead we shared Tray Mtn Shelter with four other hikers from Illinois (all retired) and there more hikers in tents nearby. Who would have thought there be so many hikers at the shelter, in November, in the middle of the week? Also, every single campsite had a stacked wood supply! It’s like consigliere service on the AT. Thanks GATC for all you do.

Pretty natural setting. Steep elevations and rocky.

Strenuous but great views. Found a good lunch spot just over Trey mountain on the way to the shelter

Amazing views. It is as hard as it sounds! Bring poles and plenty of water.

hiking
8 months ago

Average fitness, Experienced hiker. Trail will def make you work and feel like you've earned it, but won't completely wreck you. Did not see a lot of people - Hiked on a Sunday in the AM (8:45ish) and saw 2 people who were hiking down about 2.5 hours in. Saw 6 people on the descent. Very peaceful. Unicoi Gap to Indian Gap is a steady up then - but very even terrain- the levels off for a spell just past the campground -- this is where the best views on this section are to found via a couple nice windows looking south - before plunging down to Indian Grave Gap road. From here to the top of Tray mountain there's a nice stair step that creates a bit of an interval -- so you go up then flatten out then go up again. This is fully wooded, some exposed roots - one short section that requires minimal scrambling, but otherwise easy footing. The final .5 mile up to the Shelter at Tray mountain is slightly strenuous but not very difficult. There is a killer viewpoint before you make a turn to the top which has a nice rock to lounge for a meal. There's another good viewpoint near the UGS marker. From there to the AT Shelter is not much to see, trail is more overgrown and views are shaded by trees. BUT there is a water source and privy at the shelter. On the return: Pretty easy since it's all down hill until you get to Indian Grave Gap road where you will hit the toughest part of the hike. This is around mile 8.7 where you have get back up and over to Unicoi. After 9 miles and low on water, I really had push to get back up to the campground before the descent to the parking lot down at Unicoi. Trail is in good shape, a little overgrown on the sides, but super easy to follow. You will have to cross three roads, but just keep an eye out for the white blaze and it will be easy to pick up where the trail is. Took 1.5 liters of water, could have used 2. There's a spur trail to Rocky mountain That i did not do, but may try next time. Fairly big parking lot.. id guess enough for 20 cars right on off Highway 75 so very easy in /out from to trailhead.

Very hard but worth it. Only a few great views (two really) but if you are looking to challenge yourself, go for it. We were weather shortened but honestly, the first part was all I could do.

hiking
9 months ago

I oompleted Unicoi to Dicks Creek. 16.7 miles. Unicoi starts off with a steady climb for the first mile. Trail was tough and weather didn’t help. Very hot! Very few flat areas - mostly up and down. Found the geological benchmark at top of Tray Mountain. Would recommend splitting up and stopping at Tray. You will need everything you have from Tray to Dicks Creek. Very few switchbacks - just up and down!

hiking
rocky
10 months ago

Agree with Michelle E review. Started at Unicoi Gap TH, trails starts at far right of the parking lot with white marker. And it is indeed 1.15 miles straight up. Then a break flat, then down about a mile. Then up another one, down another and then last long climb to Tray Mtn. About .75 miles past Tray Gap. A few places to see nice views, counted 3 of them. Counted I believe the 4 or 5 camping spots, looks like correct on the map. Water access really only near the trailhead about .75 mile in, I carried my own as did this as a day hike. Took about 5 hours with break for lunch and few stops along the way. Trail maintained well and looked freshly trimmed near Tray Gap. Definitely one of the harder trails I have done as there isnt a lot of switchbacks except at Tray Mtn and just a couple of those. It's long stretches of climbs and some steep steps for sure. Challenging, great workout!

hiking
10 months ago

This trail starts with a long climb up and rarely gives one a break. Under the canopy except for a few brief moments, the shade was welcome. Only a few respites of flat-ish hiking and the rest was moderate to steep climbs with a good dose of stairs, some being a bit too high for comfort. I know, who wants “comfort” on the AT? Hiking sticks helped a lot. Missed the views at Tray Mountain; turned and headed back a little past Tray Gap. Got there early and there was plenty of room to park at the TH. Well maintained and marked trail as one would expect for the AT.

hiking
muddy
over grown
rocky
10 months ago

Just a awesome day hiking nothing beats the AT for awesomeness!!!

hiking
11 months ago

Did this trail a couple weeks ago. Well marked and beautiful. A few breath taking views. Makes you crave more.

hiking
11 months ago

Great trail! definitely difficult. Not that many views for 11 miles and the ending is marked incorrectly..stay left at the last shelter/water sign. Certainly a hike that is worth it if you're fit for it!!

hiking
Sun May 05 2019

the directions to the starting point from AllTrails were actually confusing. You can park and start on the Unicoi Turnpike where the AT signs are- AllTrails was leading us to a random spot a little farther down the Turnpike as a starting point. Could have been user error but we cut the start a little short. otherwise, trail is well-marked and pretty. Definitely not for a super casual hiker but it wasn't super difficult.

hiking
Tue Feb 19 2019

Amazing trail! Found the frog caffe in my way in a freezing day and the guy offered me a hot coffee and chocolate it was amazing. About the hike it’s very well maintained and there are great views. I loved it since the begging. I completed the whole trail in 5 hours. I stopped after the shelter and had lunch and then sat for 30 minutes to have my coffee down in tray gap. Great workout.

backpacking
Sat Feb 02 2019

This is stereotypical Appalachian trail. Very well maintained and beginners could achieve a day hike. You won't be alone or crowded either. water sources are marked every few miles.

backpacking
Thu Oct 25 2018

October 15-16. This was rated hard and I agree. We hiked half a day stayed the night just after the “Cheesecake Factory “ water source but just before Tray Mountain shelter (we knew the shelter was going to be full, and wanted some peacefulness) we had a beautiful view. Watched the sunrise the next morning from our tent. I can’t say enough about this spot. Then hiked out. It was a great hike to test and challenge yourself. Ps. If anyone could share WHY that water source is called “the Cheesecake Factory” please do.

hiking
Sat Oct 20 2018

I completed the trail on Oct 3, 2018. Some challenging ascend in certain sections but overall it was a good work out with some beautiful views. After multiple hikers asked me for wasp nest , I was eventually got stung by one and it hurt and last few days but its all part of the wilderness experience. Since it was a week day, the trail was not crowded at all. I came across maybe 10 hikers and one gentleman who was there to maintain the trail.

Sat Oct 13 2018

Great trail with beautiful views. We stared at the Unicoi Gap trailhead next to the App Trail sign and logged 11.6 miles out and back.

backpacking
Mon Nov 27 2017

Completed on 25NOV17 with my wife and my daughter (10 years old). Stayed one night next to the Tray Gap Shelter. Approx 6.5 miles from Unicoi Gap to Tray Gap Shelter. You will complete around 13 miles out and back. Hard. Recommend good hiking boots. Steep climbing and some sections very technical. Views are beautiful! Met few Thru hikers. Highly recommended!!!

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