It can be a bit strange how some really beautiful places end up having rather gruesome names. The region around Blood Mountain on the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia is a prime example. Lying on the border of Lumpkin and Union counties, the peak of the mountain is one of the most visited spots on the AT in the state. At 4,458 feet of elevation, Blood Mountain is the highest point on the legendary trail in Georgia.
A quick check of a map reveals the mountain is surrounded by Slaughter Creek, Slaughter Gap and Slaughter Mountain. So what’s the basis of this blood and slaughter frenzy in place names?
All these monikers relate back to a 16th century battle between Native American tribes that supposedly occurred here. One version names the adversaries as the Cherokees and Creeks, with a Cherokee victory sealing their claim to the Georgia mountains. Unfortunately, with no written history from the period, that remains just one line of conjecture.
As for the heavy visitation today, the view from the top of Blood Mountain explains that phenomenon. The rock overlook facing south presents a spectacular panorama. But, many folks also make the trek to the top of the mountain to see the Blood Mountain That structure is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934, the stone building is an iconic symbol of the AT in Georgia. The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club now maintains the two-room structure. While backpackers still use the shelter for over night stays, other hikers just want to add seeing it to their “bucket list” of places visited.
Getting to the top of Blood Mountain is no easy task. The eastern approach is from the Walisi-Yi Interpretive Center on U.S. Highway 19/129 in Neels Gap. This steep, 2-mile hike climbs 1,800 feet through a number of switchbacks.
The other approach from the west begins at Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area. This trek follows the Slaughter Creek Trail to a junction with the AT and then on to the top of the mountain. This is an easier hike, but also longer at 4.1 miles. The trail runs through both the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Blood Mountain Wilderness Area.