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Tray Mountain Road

Helen, Georgia (White County)

Last Updated: 03/21/2020
4.5 / 5 ( 8 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 3-4
(MODERATE )
Length: 8 miles
Highest Elevation: 3667 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Helen
Nearest Town w/ Services: Helen
Official Road Name: 79
Management Agency: Chattahoochee National Forest
District: Chattooga River District
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Tray Mountain Road
Just north of Helen, Georgia lies Tray Mountain Road. Perhaps the most popular offroad trail in all of Georgia, this road climbs Tray Mountain to Tray Gap, a small parking area and an intersection with the famous Appalachian Trail. The road follows along the ridge so there are spectacular views off one side or the other for the northern portion of the trail, especially in the winter months when there are no leaves on the trees blocking the view. With so many things to do and it's close proximity to Helen, don't pass up Tray Mountain Road.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Tray Mountain Road

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
Concerns:
Summary:
Very rocky gravel Forest Service road with one rutted area, many potholes and a few muddy sections. 4WD recommended, although it is 2WD passable in dry conditions and driver experience.

Technical Rating: 3-4
(MODERATE )

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 18" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 18" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 36" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.
Read more about our rating system

Description

Tray Mountain Road can be ran in either direction. Heading north is primarily uphill while heading south is primarily downhill. The rainy winter season has really taken a toll on this trail. What used to be a smooth gravel road with some rocky spots is now full of potholes with one rutted area and a large mud hole just before Indian Grave Gap Road (Waypoint 7). There are also some rocky areas from Indian Grave Gap road up to the northern trailhead. While it is passable in 2WD in completely dry conditions with driver experience, 4WD is strongly recommended. Ground clearance is mandatory. This trail is mostly 1.5 to 2.0 vehicles wide making for easy passing throughout.

Waypoints

1. Southern Trailhead
The southern trailhead is an intersection with Highway 75.
2. Camping Area (0.90 mi)
On the left is a small camping area.
3. Camping Area (2.90 mi)
On the left is a small camping area.
4. Closed Road (3.30 mi)
On the left is an unmarked road. This is not listed for motor vehicle use and should be avoided.
5. Intersection - Continue Straight (5.00 mi)
Continue straight at the intersection with Mule Branch Road, a private road on the right.
6. Camping Area (5.90 mi)
On the right is a small camping area.
7. Fork - Stay Right (6.10 mi)
Stay right at the fork with Indian Grave Gap Road on the left.
8. Appalachian Trail (7.00 mi)
Here is an intersection with the Appalachian Trail.
9. Mud Pit (7.30 mi)
On the left is a small mud pit.
10. Camping Area (7.40 mi)
On the left is a small camping area.
11. Northern Trailhead (8.00 mi)
The northern trailhead is a three-way intersection with Corbin Creek Road to the north, Tray Mountain Road to the west, and Chimney Mountain Road to the southeast. There is also an intersection with the Appalachian Trail, a small parking area and a very small clearing commonly used for camping.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.723100, -83.747880

Starting Point: Helen, Georgia

Head north on Highway 75/17 for approximately two miles. Turn right onto Tray Mountain Road.

Camping

Dispersed
Dispersed camping is available along this trail such as Waypoints 2 and 3. Dispersed camping is also available along the connecting trail Corbin Creek Road. While there are no improved campgrounds in the area, Unicoi State Park is only 2.5 miles away and offers powered campsites that are suitable for tent, trailer and RV campers along with cabins for rent and rooms at the lodge.
Camping: Tray Mountain Road

Trail Reviews (8)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Wow, this road has gotten much worse with the heavy rains this season. There were some huge mudholes that a 2WD got stuck in. There are also some considerable ruts and much larger potholes and now multiple culverts exposed. Ground clearance mandatory and 4x4 strongly recommended.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this road from the north down after coming off of Corbin Creek. If you take Tray mountain road past the Corbin Creek Rd intersection farther up the ridge the road is more knarled with exposed rock until you get to the Tray Mountain turn-around at the A.T. intersection. Taking Tray Mtn Rd south down the mountain there were several large and deep mud holes to run through. About 1/2 down the mountain there are a couple deep wash outs I was able to straddle. The road was a mix of decent and easy conditions with some surprisingly rough spots here & there. Nice long range winter views of the surrounding peaks with all the foliage down.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Very easy rocky trail. We started on the south side heading north meaning climbing up the mountain. Pretty much all gravel with small rocks... not really a challenge for a Land Rover Discovery. A few spots along the way had standing waters so that was fun to go through and splash in. Perfect easy trail for a beginner. 2WD should be fine all the way but it’s a lot more fun in a 4x4 for easy cruising... Important note: when you get to the end of the Tray Mountain trail, you’ll have to make a decision whether you want to go back down the way you came, or continue up to another trail. In other words, there’s no connection to a paved road. It took about an hour to climb up and about 50 minutes to come down. One noticeable remark - there is trash in spots of the trail and a beer can here and there along the trail. This is sad. Pick up after yourselves! Leave the trail clean or they will close it!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Easy ride up. Very popular with 4x4 vehicles, but I’ve seen minivans and compact cars navigate it with some creativity in the spots where ground clearance would be helpful.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Did the trail starting south outside of Helen and headed North. We did the trail in our Subaru Crosstrek. The trail was rain washed in spots but still easily passable. From bottom to top it took about 1 hour to complete. About half way up we veered left on the trail at the fork and followed the trail down the mountain. Very pretty and scenic area to take a slow drive up and back down the mountain.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The trail was soaked from rain all week with light rain day of. Not a problem on trey mountain road. some parts can get sketchy with slick mud but as long as you drive smart there won't be any problems. When you get to the top and there is a big opening with giant gravel you can continue left for the easy trail or go up and right to where I would recommend only 4x4. there should be makeshift signs on this trail saying "4x4 only!", I'd take the advice from the sign. good camping sights all along the trail once you've passed both home sight on the road. Remember to pick up your trash and make sure your fires are out and have a fun trip!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Took a ride up to the top of Tray today along this trail. Really no change since season. 2WD okay in dry conditions (muddy if wet) but ground clearance definitely needed.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Very easy trail from the beginning (bottom of the mountain) to about half way up the road. Top half is in a bit rougher shape, but passable by most 2wd vehicles with moderate ground clearance when dry. I ran this trail N to S.

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: Has anyone driven from FS283 (Indian Grave gap rd), off of 17, to Tray Mountain Rd? We drove a small portion of it to High Shilo falls and it looks like it goes through on the map. Just curious since there are not any reviews for Indian Grave Gap rd.
–Keith (12/28/2018)
A: I have been up to the high shoals waterfall area, i just wasn't sure about it going all the way through. I will definitely be doing this run soon. By the way, any idea on the trail conditions? A co-worker mentioned that Tray road was shutdown because of the all the rain, but the Forest service doesn't show any alerts for Tray rd. I was planning to go up there next weekend and hoping that hey were open. Thank you again for your insight .
–Keith (12/28/2018)
A: Awesome!Thank you so much Dave!
–Keith (12/28/2018)
A: Waypoint 7 is the intersection of Indian Grave Gap Road and Tray Mountain Road.
–Dave G. (12/28/2018)
A: Yep, Indian Grave Gap goes from 17 up to Tray Mountain Road. There is one water crossing right at the beginning if starting from 17. This road is suitable for most passenger vehicles with suitable ground clearance. There is also a small parking area off Indian Grave Gap Road that offers access to the popular High Shoals and Blue Hole waterfalls.
–Dave G. (12/28/2018)

Writer Information

Dave G.

Mapping Crew - Georgia

Dave is more of an explorer than a wheeler who loves to find remote locations to hike and kayak fish. Born and raised in Chicago for 21 years before moving to Atlanta, backroads and forests and mountains were a whole new experience and now he just can't get enough. When he's not fishing for stripers on Lake Lanier, you can find him in the mountains of North Georgia, Tennessee or South Carolina exploring and mapping backroads. Just look for the guy with the kayak on the top of the truck!
For individual use only, not to be shared.