Tray Mountain Road

Helen, Georgia (White County)

Last Updated: 12/08/2021
4.7 / 5 ( 29 reviews )
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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.

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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

MANDATORY
3
MODERATE
OPTIONAL
4
MODERATE
Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 12" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 12" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 24" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep.
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Community Consensus

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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 ( mi)
The southern trailhead is an intersection with Highway 75.
2. Camping Area (0.9 mi)
On the left is a small camping area.
3. Camping Area (2.9 mi)
On the left is a small camping area.
4. Closed Road (3.3 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 mi)
Continue straight at the intersection with Mule Branch Road, a private road on the right.
6. Camping Area (5.9 mi)
On the right is a small camping area.
7. Fork - Stay Right (6.1 mi)
Stay right at the fork with Indian Grave Gap Road on the left.
8. Appalachian Trail (7 mi)
Here is an intersection with the Appalachian Trail.
9. Mud Pit (7.3 mi)
On the left is a small mud pit.
10. Camping Area (7.4 mi)
On the left is a small camping area.
11. Northern Trailhead (8 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

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 (33)

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 (12/29/2018)
A: Awesome!Thank you so much Dave!
–Keith (12/29/2018)
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.