Friday, August 08, 2014

Off-roading and hiking at Tray Mountain!

Friday, June 6th, before Rach was twinkling in Mum's eye, we were off on another hiking adventure. Only this time, it also turned into an off road adventure too!

We headed out early and met up with our pals Rocco and his Mom, loaded into the Rover and followed the GPS to our destination; up Tray Mountain Road to the parking area where we were to pick up the trail up to the top of Tray Mountain.

We had heard there are some great views up there, and instead of hiking the difficult Blood Mountain trail to see amazing views, here you could drive up most of the way and hike another mile up 500' elevation to the top.

Blood Mountain is pretty challenging and we really didn't want to tackle something like that again so soon, but we do love a good view!

So off we went.

We started out heading up Chimney Mountain Road off 356, the road was nice and getting deep into the forest. We drove over a small stream and enjoyed this part of the drive very much.

Then a little further on that road it turned into Forestry Road (FR) 79 (aka Tray Mountain Road on the other side) which we didn't know at the time was a very challenging road and a big destination for off-roaders.

We had the Rover, so we felt pretty comfortable tackling a difficult road. But what we didn't know was just how difficult it was going to become! It was tough, and very stressful at the time. Now, looking back, we are feeling very 'puffy chested' that we tackled a very difficult off road experience and made it through with just a few little war wounds on the Rover.

Rocco's Mom and my Mum were real troopers throughout the challenge. Mum had never driven that type of road before except for taking the off road course offered by the Land Rover dealer (which she passed with flying colors, I may add). Needless to say she faced some of her toughest driving challenges of her life. And Rocco's Mom was the best, and I mean best, cheerleader of the day! Mum is not sure she could have made it through that challenge without Rocco's Mom, and really isn't sure that she would have been as good a passenger as she was (Mum likes to be in control, BOL!)

It took us about three hours to make it up the five mile road, facing cavernous rocks and ruts formed by the road run off. Rocco's Mom got out and spotted the car a few times and even said she saw one of the Rover's front wheels come three or so feet off the ground at one point! OMD!

But knowing Mum, and knowing Rocco's Mom, they wouldn't have put us in danger at any time. All three of us, Rocco, me and Gracie took the whole challenge like it was nothing. We got out a few times to stop to stretch our legs, get a little drink and water some green.

The entire drive was challenging, but looking back it was kind of an unexpected interesting, growth experience!

When the Mom and Mum had just about reached their limit, three older guys on motorcycles came down the road and told us that we had only about 150 feet left of rough terrain. That gave Mum and Rocco's Mom all the incentive they needed to finish out the road and get us all to the top. Funny how when you know more about what's on the road ahead you can deal much more easily!

And the Mum and Mom found out that there was another, much easier way down (which they kind of knew about, but weren't positive). Another incentive, let's get going! The three gentlemen watched as we navigated the last 150 feet, then we went back and visited for a while. They told Mum they couldn't have driven that last 150 feet any better themselves, how nice!!!

Both Moms were so busy navigating and driving that they didn't have a stitch of time to take photos or videos. But Mum found this vid on YouTube the other day of other folks navigating the road.

Yep, that's just about what the five miles was like! Wow, so proud of the Mum and Mom!!!

We finally reached the top and parked in the parking area, got out and what do you know, we hear thunder. Well, one place you don't want to be is on the top of one of the highest mountains in GA when a big storm is rolling through. So Mum checked her cell and she had a signal, pulled up and saw that the storm cell was just south and heading southeast. If we waited just a few minutes it would all be past us and clear sailing, errrr, I mean hiking!

So off we went!

Here's the entrance to the trail. We met a lot of hikers that day, some taking 50 mile trips to get their Boy Scout badge with their dads, and some that we think were possible thru hikers. They were all nice and we didn't know it then, but we would spend a little time with them at the top.

The trail was steep, but not anything like Blood Mountain. It was an entire one mile of uphill climb, but very doable, especially with Gracie and I pulling along! Let's go, Mum!

We stopped a few times for the Mum to catch her breath, while Gracie took in the scenery.

We saw some amazing natural sculptures, like this tree, very cool!

And we met one of the largest Millipedes I had every seen, I think this one was just about 3-4 inches long.

Up near the top the Rhododendrons were still blooming. Very pretty.

When we reached the top, we met up with the nice hikers. I took a nice little break next to one of their packs.

Then Gracie and I posed a little on top of the big rocks. This was a tight little area, but the views were amazing, just as promised.

See! There I am at the top!

And there's the amazing view from one direction.

And vids from both directions...


Once we enjoyed the top and socialized with the hikers, it was time to head down the mountain. It was a fun hike down, who doesn't like to scurry down a mountain? We reached the car and headed down the easier road toward town.

On the road we passed a very cool little waterfall and drove across the stream of it.

We stopped when we saw this on the road, bear scat, cool!

And we stopped to enjoy the Hydrangea Arborescens, or some call Wild Hydrangeas. Not blooming yet, but almost!

Once in town we headed toward the nearest place for the Mum and Mom to eat, they were hungry.

The closest town, Helen, is a little Bavarian Tourist Town, filled with unique architecture. You can visit all the shops (we got some fudge for the Mum and Mom), and we were intrigued by the horses pulling the carriages.

Photo courtesy of
While they waited for their food, we got to eat ours and watch some of the tubers enjoy their trip down the Chattahoochee which flows through the town.

Photo courtesy of 
Gracie liked to bark at the ones close to the bank. There she is watching for the next one!

So all in all it was a very interesting day! And we're already planning our next adventure!


  1. What a fun adventure and what a gorgeous view from the top!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  2. Wow, what a trip! Looks like you all had a great time. Love the photos.
    Also Congrats on getting anew family addition, Rach is too cute!


Thanks for barking in!

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