Distance: 4.1 Mile Loop
Bear Hair Gap Trail is a partial loop trail located in North Georgia’s Vogel State State Park. The trail carries hikers through the Blood Mountain Wilderness at times paralleling two creeks that feed the lake below. At the top of the trail, hikes are rewarded with a view high over Vogel State Park and Lake Trahlyta. The views from the top, however, are likely to be much better during winter months when the dense forestry doesn’t block the vista. Be aware that Bear Hair Gap Trail brings hikers outside of the boundaries of Vogel State Park and into some areas that are occasionally opened for hunting. If hiking during hunting season, make sure to know if the area has been opened to hunting, and take all safety precautions.
Upon arrival at Vogel State Park, one can stop by the visitors center to get a map of the hiking trails. Stay parked at the visitor’s center as it is the nearest parking area to the trailhead.
The trailhead can be somewhat difficult to find, as the trail does not really begin until one has walked a few tenths of a mile into the woods. Walk past the visitor’s center (away from the Lake), and follow the road until a there is a stone staircase on the right and a sign indicating the Byron Herbert Reece Nature Trail. Follow the staircase up, and turn left, following the signs towards the Bear Hair Gap Trail.
After walking just behind the Vogel State Park camping area, one comes to an intersection just below the true trailhead. A sign straight ahead indicates the direction of Blood Mountain. This is where the trail will come back out at the end, and as such, can be the beginning of the trail. Heading straight will result in hiking the trail clockwise, which will result in a steeper ascent along the trail. Instead, we opted for hiking the trail counterclockwise for a longer, but less steep climb. To do so, turn right at the Blood Mountain sign following the Bear Hair Gap Trail signs up and around this initial ridge. The true trailhead is found at the first separation of Bear Hair Gap with the Coosa Backcountry Trail.
From here, the trail continues uphill, very slowly for approximately 2.0 miles. Along the ascent, hikers will cross one of two creeks on the trail numerous times. During the summer months, the crossings were not more than an inch or two deep on the trail, and provided plenty of rocks to keep the feet dry.
After a few of these creek crossings, the trail connects with, what appears to be, an old forest service road. The service road is very broad, and follows several switchbacks further up the side of the mountain. At one point, hikers will see several posts mounted on the trail designed to block vehicles from attempting access up the trail.
Finally, at the top of the ridge, hikers will be given an option of continuing along the trail, or following a sign to “Vogel Overlook.” The sign doesn’t tell hikers anything regarding distance. DO NOT skip this turn off. The Vogel Overlook, is the only really good vista on the hike. The turnoff is a very short, less than 0.2 mile lollipop loop back to the trail, but at the top of the loop, hikers will be rewarded with views across the Blue Ridge mountains with Vogel State Park below.
After taking time to enjoy the view, return back to the trail to begin a slow descent back to the state park.
After returning to the trail, hikers will, initially, be taken back along the wide service road with occasional obscured views over the state park.
The trail will soon turn off of the service road and begin a steeper descent back to the park. During this descent, hikers will cross and hike along the second creek on the trail. This creek has much more water than the first, but allows dry crossings when the trail intersects it. This part of the trail feels much more like a backcountry trail. The forest becomes thicker and greener, and the trail begins to narrow to a single pathway.
Base of the Trail
As hikers reach the base of the trail, the descent initially gets steeper with erosion barriers, and then flattens out into a pine forest. I saw several deer off in the distance on this part of the trail. Hikers should recognize when they have reached the end of the loop when they arrive back at the initial intersection of Bear Hair Gap and Blood Mountain. This time hikers will be coming from the “Blood Mountain” sign at the intersection. Go straight to get back to the park.
Coosa Backcountry Trail- 12.9 mile loop
Byron Herbert Reece Nature Trail – 0.8 miles loop
Trahlyta Lake Trail – 1.0 mile loop.
Brasstown Bald – 0.6 miles
DeSoto Falls - 0.75 miles to Upper Falls, 0.25 miles to Lower Falls.
Helton Creek Falls – 0.1 mile
1. Take US 19/129 South for 11 miles. Turn right into Vogel State Park.