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A good hike is just a short, easy drive away at Yonah Mountain
Yonah Mountain
Alexis Ransom, left, and Kyle Garrett lounge in a hammock near the summit of Yonah Mountain north of Cleveland in White County in summer 2017. - photo by Nick Bowman

There’s an easy drive between those quads of yours and Yonah Mountain, one of North Georgia’s best and more-accessible hikes.

Yonah Mountain sits about 45 minutes north of Gainesville between Cleveland and Helen via a route that has none of the brake-melting twists and turns you see on the way to Blood Mountain or Raven Cliff Falls.

If you’re a car person or enjoy nauseating your family and friends, those other two hikes are for you. The mountain road between Gainesville and the Blood Mountain trailhead includes a series of hairpin turns and views that makes for a top-notch Sunday drive.

But for normal people, the stone-faced Yonah Mountain is a beautiful hike in White County reached by a pleasant drive through beautiful country.

It’s doable for people in a wide range of physical conditions, given the good state of the well-traveled trail. There are some rocky sections and some steep inclines, but if you pace yourself and bring plenty of water you’ll reach the top just fine. Yonah is a good trail for both kids and dogs for the same reasons, and it includes multiple camping areas along the route to the summit.

The mountain also serves as a training ground for Army Rangers and is popular among rock climbers.

And at the top is majesty.

The trail empties onto the mountain’s southern stone face, staring out over a forested valley that drifts into the horizon, tinted blue by the heat and humidity of Georgia summer.

The valley and your panoramic view near the summit is rimmed by the hills and mountains of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest that farther north turns Georgia into Tennessee.

Pound for pound, step for step, the view from the Yonah Mountain summit is among the best within an hour’s drive of Gainesville.


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