Hike the 1.9-mile Freeman Trail in Lumpkin County, Georgia, to see wilderness, an Appalachian Trail approach and rock outcrops.
By Tim Homan
Unlike other AT approach trails, which begin at a trailhead and lead to the AT, the Freeman Trail has both of its ends joined to the AT, making a loop. Starting at Flatrock Gap (3,420 feet), Freeman Trail often follows the contours along the southern flank of Blood Mountain. In winter, you can see Blood Mountain’s uppermost slopes towering above the traiL
The path winds through a second-growth oak-hickory forest with occasional large trees. While the trail is not steep, gaining only 240 feet to Bird Gap, the treadway and trailside are rocky. It is this rock – boulder jumbles, protruding outcrops, large slabs – that gives this trail its distinctive, rugged scenery.
The western end of the footpath follows an easy upgrade to Bird Gap (3,660 feet). Turn right onto the white-blazed AT to complete the loop over Blood Mountain. The three-trail loop – Byron Herbert Reece to Flatrock Gap, Freeman from Flatrock Gap to Bird Gap, the AT from Bird Gap back to Flatrock Gap, and Byron Herbert Reece again from Flatrock Gap to the parking area – is 6.7 miles.
The Freeman Trail is entirely within the 7,800- acre Blood Mountain Wilderness.
Throughout: steep, rocky, scenic slopes.
The Byron Herbert Reece Memorial Picnic Area is located on the west side (left if you are heading north) of US 19-129. From Turners Corner, where US 19 joins US 129, continue north on US 19-129 for approximately 8.3 miles (0.5 mile past Neels Gap), then turn onto the second road downhill from the gap. The parking area is halfway around a one-way loop; the unmistakable trailhead is slightly farther along the loop.
From the Blairsville square, travel south on US 19-129 for approximately 12.5 miles to the memorial loop.
Freeman is an interior trail. To reach the AT junction from the nearest trailhead, walk the 0.7-mile Byron Herbert Reece Trail (formerly known as Blood Mountain Spur Trail) to its junction with the AT at Flatrock Gap. Turn right onto the AT toward Blood Mountain. Freeman’s sign and entering treadway are to the left 25 yards away.
This hiking guide to the Freeman Trail is adapted from The Hiking Trails of North Georgia by Tim Homan and is published in cooperation with the publisher, Peachtree Publishers. With his meticulous attention to detail and accuracy, Homan has long been recognized as the authority on North Georgia hiking trail by serious hikers. His other books include Hiking Trails of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock and Citico Creek Wilderness, Hiking the Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wilderness and others. For a complete inventory of his books see his Amazon Author Page. For an inventory of Peachtree Publishers books including its Nature books for children, go to the Peachtree Publishers website.