4,461-foot high Blood Mountain , one of the six highest mountains in Georgia derives its name from local legends of fierce battles fought on the mountain by people of the Creek and Cherokee Indian Tribes. During the 16th century, the two tribes co-existed peacefully, sharing the bounty of the land. However, by the end of the 17th century, the two tribes began to compete aggressively for game and other resources. A viscous battle raged on the mountain near Slaughter Gap. The Creek Nation was defeated and ceded the mountain to the Cherokee. The Cherokee Indian Tribe considered Blood Mountain sacred ground. Other myths attribute the mountain’s name to the red-tinged lichen and Catawba rhododendron that blankets the crest of the summit. Located on the border of Lumpkin and Union Counties, Blood Mountain lies within the boundaries of the Chattahoochee National Forest and 7,800-acre Blood Mountain Wilderness.
Birding and wildlife viewing are popular activities of visitors to the mountain. Game is plentiful including black bear, wild hogs, raccoons, squirrels, wild turkey, deer, grouse, quail and woodcocks. The hillsides of the mountain support heavy strands of white pine, hemlock, hickory, basswood, mountain ash, black walnut, tulip poplar and magnolia. In spring and summer, open meadows exhibit brilliant displays of wildflowers. Dense thickets of blueberries provide a delicious summer treat for wildlife and hikers.
The jaw-dropping view from the top of Blood Mountain is unquestionably breathtaking. Spectacular vistas include views of Slaughter Mountain, Tray Mountain, Mount Yonch and Lake Winfield Scot. A short, but devilishly steep trail winds through the boulder field that covers the mountain peak. The 2-mile hike presents a 1,800-foot elevation gain. Although a strenuous trek, the view more than justifies the effort. Even though, the last 1.5 miles of the trail consists of a series of switchbacks, it is considered the most hiked section of the Appalachian Trail. Blood Mountain is also tallest point on the Appalachian Trail. Somewhat longer, the Slaughter House Creek Trail offers a less demanding approach to the mountaintop.
Vogel State Park 
Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s, the picturese park is located in the Chattahoochee National Park at the base of Blood Mountain. The park is one of Georgia’s oldest and most utilized state parks and is a superb base for exploring the area. Driving to the 233-acre park from the south, visitors travel through Neel Gap, a spectacular mountain pass located near Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia. The beautiful mountain park is located just 11 miles south of Blairsville on U.S. Highway 19. Perched at an elevation of 2,500 feet, the faucility is one of the state’s highest altitude parks and remains delightfully cool during the summer months.
Natural park amenities include several streams, Trahlyta waterfall and tiny 22-acre Lake Trahlyta, a 52-foot high and 600-foot long earthen dam. Vogel state park offers 103 well-maintained trailer and RV camping sites, 18 walk-in camping sites, trailside primitive campsites, 35 cozy cabins, boating, swimming at a mountain view beach, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, geo-caching and a diverse array of other recreational opportunities.
In autumn, the Blue Ridge Mountains are wrapped in a “coat of many colors” including brilliant purple, red, orange and golden yellow. The fall foliage is utterly spectacular. Vogel State Park offers hikers and backpackers a choice of several trails of varying length and difficulty. For a leisurely stroll, choose the 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail Loop to Trahlyta Falls. For a more challenging trek, select the strenuous 13-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail that leads travelers upward toward Blood Mountain and the Appalachian Trail. The trail ascends Coosa Bald and Slaughter Mountain, climbing to an elevation of 4,000 feet before a steep descent back to the Bear Hair Gap Trail and the point of origin. Although the trail is blazed, hikers are advised to carry a local topographical map and compass as well as adequate supplies and clothing in preparation for changing trail conditions or inclement weather.
Throughout the season, the complex offers a wide range of fun-filled family focused events. April offers a guided wildflower walk, June presents a kid’s fishing rodeo, in July celebrate Independence Day at the park. September is time for the much anticipated Mountain Music and Arts and Crafts Festival. Enjoy spirited mountain music while shopping for a one-of-a-kind treasure. Appalachian artists and craftsmen offer woodcarvings, musical instruments, pottery, quilts and homemade food treats.
For driving directions, reservations, trail maps and trip planning assistance for your adventure to Blood Mountain and Vogel State Park, contact the United States Forest Service, Brasstown Ranger District, 1881 Highway 515, PO Box 9, Blairsville, Georgia, 30512 or call (706) 745-6928.
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