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Kristen is a Wander North Georgia Campus Rep at Berry College. All words are hers. Campus Rep positions are offered seasonally.

There’s something special about being on the trail. It’s not just a hike; it’s a community of people all striving towards the same thing. Whether you’re going for 1 mile or 2,181 miles, we are all driven by a thrill-seeking and wandering heart. Preachers Rock is one of those places that offer that while continually surprising me. It is a trial that undeniably feels like home which is why Preachers Rock is one of my favorite hikes in North Georgia.

Preachers Rock is located in Suches, Georgia, deep in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The drive alone is enough to give you wanderlust. The winding roads up to the trailhead through the North Georgia Mountains are the perfect setting to roll down your windows with your favorite playlist.

Preachers Rock is part of the Blood Mountain wilderness. It originally got its name because preacher and farmer Joe Lunsford used to climb up to the top to practice his sermons.

photo by Justin Hardigree | @justin.hardigree

photo by Justin Hardigree | @justin.hardigree

When you arrive at the parking area, you are greeted by a stunning view of the mountains before you even begin. The white stripes of the Appalachian Trail begin as your guide. It is one of the shortest Georgia section hikes on the AT so if you’re looking to claim you’ve part of hiked the Appalachian Trail, it doesn’t get much easier than the Preachers Rock trail.

If you’re lucky, you may come across some AT thru hikers, particularly in the Spring. If they’re heading north these people are just beginning their month long walk in the woods so be sure to be courteous and wish them well on their journey. If you’re feeling generous, you can pass along a little trail magic – something that will help them on their journey like a nice snack or just a good deed.

Apart from just the view, being on the AT is an experience all its own. The people you meet and build relationships with for as long as your journey takes you are people that make a special impact that you can only understand from hiking. In fact, I’ve honestly never met a sad hiker. Everyone you meet just has a natural passion for life and living it to the fullest. It’s inspiring, and that’s what the AT offers every time, even if it’s just a mile or two of it.

If you go beyond the trailhead about 9 miles north, you will reach the Blood Mountain summit. But if you want to keep it on the easier side for a nice day hike, Preachers Rock is exceptional. The hike is about 2 miles round trip and moderate in difficulty. It takes you along winding trails, over rocks and through the Georgia wilderness. The trail begins with ease, and becomes more of a climb towards the summit. However, the view is completely worth it. The view is breathtaking, as North Georgia Mountains always are. The summit also provides a nice, large, granite rock to lie out on, eat a snack and take in the view.

Preacher's RockAnother cool part about the Preacher’s Rock summit is it offers some pretty great primitive and natural campsites. Just steps past the summit are some large clearings to set up camp for through hikers or weekend adventurers. The best part: the campsites are just a few feet away from an amazing star gazing spot in an almost perfect dark zone. The beauty of the night sky at Preachers Rock is an experience all its own. The spot offers a cleared out area around the rock that gives you plenty of space to soak in the stars and dream big.

When it’s time to hike down, don’t forget to stop and explore the massive rock formations along the trail. You don’t have to be an expert rock climber to play around on the rocks and little caves hidden on the way.preachersrock3

Once you are done with the hike and make your way down to the parking lot, you are only a short drive away from Dahlonega or Helen, two charming small towns up in the hills of North Georgia. You are also only about an hour away form Blue Ridge and Blairsville to the north of the trail. It is a great location to explore more of what the North Georgia Mountains and small town gems have to offer. These towns and the others filling the top of the state are filled with so much culture and life and are an important reason why North Georgia is such an authentic place to be. Trust me, you won’t want to miss these visiting cities if you get this close to them.Preacher's RockGrowing up in Naples, Florida, I didn’t get much exposure to the mountains or small mountain towns until I was older. Just like beaches, I assumed that mountain ranges all looked the same, but I couldn’t be farther from the truth. No matter how many times I do this hike, or any hike in North Georgia for that matter, the view never gets old. It gives that adventure I crave so much and shows of the place I now hold so dearly to my heart. The North Georgia Mountains have truly become my home.

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