Last weekend, I had the pleasure of taking on Yonah Mountain with the wonderful Lauren Gates and a pup nicknamed Momo 🐕. We had planned the hike a week in advance having realized neither of us had seen the mountain. The forecast the days leading up was consistent in saying we'd have great hiking weather with a high upwards of 70 degrees.
We left Atlanta around 11:30. Despite a few missed turns, we made it to the trailhead gravel lot in a very reasonable time. Yonah Mountain notoriously stands out as surrounding mountains and hills are much smaller and less steep. However, standing at the trailhead Saturday, we had to guess where the peak might be behind the intense fog.
Momo, in his blue bandana, led the first stretch. We soon realized we'd be lucky to even catch a glimpse of the sun. We didn't mind it though; the trail was one of the more unique trails I've been on. There were many areas of large exposed boulders covered in moss and lichen. We weren't surprised to see some climbers making there way up some of the bigger rock faces. Momo didn't seem up for the challenge so we kept on the trail.
Halfway (about 1.2 miles) up the trail you come to a flat cleared area suitable for group camping. There's a neat view and plenty of room for a Bon fire. Continuing up from there, you'll hike a section of Georgia clay. This may be the most difficult section in my mind. It's steep and the footing is rough especially on a day where the clay is damp and slick. As we rose higher into the clouds, visibility became worst. We'd hear down-hikers way before they appeared from the fog. Thankfully no other creatures appeared out of THE MIST (in reference to the Stephen King novel/movie). Lauren was apparently the only one on that mountain aware of that danger.
Shortly after passing an area used for military training, you come to a bald at the summit. Trees circled the area providing many hammock sites. Fire pits are scattered across the open area and into the wooded perimeter as well. There is a ton of room for hammock and tent campers to spread out. We hung our Enos around an existing fire-pit. An impressive trio of younger guys had a fire blazing in minutes. Resourcefully, I attempted to borrow their flames to start our own fire. I hate giving up on a fire but after many failed attempts, I concluded my kindling was too damp. When the guys left, we inherited their blaze. The temperature was great when we were hiking up, but once stopped, we became a bit chilly. I had worn shorts expecting a sunny day so the fire was a nice touch.
We stayed up top for a while hanging around, eating cliff bars, tending the fire, and talking with some enthusiastic bare-foot hikers (shout out to those Tarahumara inspired brothers). Momo enjoyed hammock break after having to be carried a little ways up. We couldn't resist but to snap a bunch of photos of the eerie summit.
On our way down, the fog subsided a bit and we were able to catch some of the scenery. The down-hike is always the easier part but don't let it fool you into thinking you can run over some of the slick earth or you'll wind up eating it. At that point our mind was on eating tortilla chips with a fresh bowl of salsa. Momo was just ready for a nap.
We'll definitely make it back to Yonah for a few reasons. Not only did we not get to experience the views, but the mountain is easy to fall in love with. It will be perfect for a group camping trip this spring. Interested? Go ahead and leave a comment below! We'd love to see you up there.