Visitor Center Loop Trail
This .3-mile trail begins at our Visitor Center, crosses a small tributary of Dukes Creek, and winds around a large pasture along Dukes Creek. Just off the trail is a planting of Florida Torreya, considered to be one of North America’s most critically endangered trees. There also are a couple of adult swings and several picnic tables.
Laurel Ridge Trail
Located adjacent to our Visitor Center, this interpretive trail is a moderate 1.6-mile loop that climbs to Laurel Ridge and provides a seasonal view of Mt. Yonah. Ask for a free interpretive brochure from the Visitor Center to learn more about specific points of interest along the trail.
Ash Creek Trail
1.5 mile one way | 0.6 miles from Visitor Center at the north end | 1.3 miles from south end
This rugged trail requires fording/wading Dukes Creek near the north end. The beauty of the Dukes Creek area and the large expanse of Georgia woodlands make this a noteworthy hike. In cooler weather, or after a large rain, some guests start at the covered bridge, pass our group camp, hike all the way to Dukes Creek, and simply turn around and retrace their steps to avoid fording the creek.
Cathy Ellis Trail
0.5 mile one way | 2.8 miles from Visitor Center
Also called the Chunanee Falls Trail, this memorial trail is in honor of Cathy Ellis, who loved the north Georgia mountains. A plaque at the trailhead tells the historical significance of this 640-acre tract. A moderate half-mile hike (mostly downhill) leads to a beautiful waterfall on what is known as the Alabama Branch. A short wooden bridge crosses a section of a historic water ditch, part of the early gold mining history. Deeply shaded by rhododendron, the last 400 yards is alongside a noisy stretch of Dukes Creek, and is a cool retreat in warm weather.
Martin's Mine Trail
0.9 mile loop | 2.1 miles from Visitor Center
A wooden bridge across Dukes Creek begins this picturesque and historical trail. The 0.9-mile loop interprets the history of gold mining at this site. A vertical shaft of the earlier gold mining era is a focal point and provides a unique habitat for bats. A short extension from the main trail offers a view of a small, but soothing waterfall.
Wetland Loop Trail
0.55 mile loop | 1.2 miles from Visitor Center
This easy ½-mile loop trail passes a beaver pond and wetland area. A boardwalk and large deck provide a great spot for “birding” on the pond. Waterfowl and frogs are residents that hikers may see or hear. Our brochure “The Frogs of Smithgall Woods” makes it possible to identify frogs by their call.