Woody Gap to Blood Mountain

For this epic, twenty mile Appalachian Trail section run, we parked at the Woody Gap parking area in Union, Georgia. There are bathrooms and plenty of ample parking for day’s run.

The goal was an out-n-back trip from the Woody Gap trail head up to Blood Mountain, and back.

Woody Gap headed north to Blood Mountain

The run begins with a modest climb to Preacher Rock, an area that the under the right conditions, produces some incredible panoramic views of the North Georgia Mountains.

(for us, that was later in the morning after the dark fog lifted)

The trail then begins a long rolling, descent that really allows runners to open up the stride and get the legs moving. We did this run in early March, 2009, and the views were awe-inspiring. The trail provides incredible views of the mountain-side in which you are running, creating a feeling of huge-ness, like Mother Nature just painted a playground specifically for us.

This run is typical Georgia Appalachian Trail {AT} running – Run up a mountain, descend the other side, run through the gap, and begin another climb; however, one thing that stood out in my mind was the “run-ability” level associated with this course.

The climbs are challenging, but with a willingness to push your training a little, most of it can be run with only modest amounts of walking.  I assume very strong mountain runners, can run this entire route.

The terrain is just about perfect. The trail is thin single-track with a decent amount of rocks on the ridges and at higher elevations, but smooth as silk down in the gaps and flats.

The approach to Blood Mountain has some steep climbs and sharp switch-backs, but remains surprisingly runnable (or fast hike-able) all the way to the top.

Worthy of mention are

The return trip was every bit as wonderful as the approach; however, be prepared for a long climb back up Big Cedar Mountain, beginning about 4 miles from the end of the return to the Woody Gap parking area.

I can’t wait to do this one again.

* Update (via Carl Laniak): Another popular way to run this route is to continue over Blood Mountain, to Neels Gap and the famous AT thru-hiker store and hostel called Walasi-Yi. 

On the return runners can either ascend back up Blood Mountain or take the rocky Freeman Trail around the mountain which meets back up to the AT in 1.8 miles.

Sounds good, huh?

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I’m planning on running the southernmost 100+ miles of the AT in 4 days in June. I’ve read your blog some & know you run there quite a bit. Where would you suggest as a good first night of camping? Also, I’m coming down for SweetH2O 50K. Looks good.

Looks great, a real contrast to where I run, love the photos!

Sounds goooooood. Sorry I missed. Will have to get back out there with you and V before the heat comes callin again.

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