Looking for Jeep trails in Georgia for a fun off-road adventure? We found one near Helen Georgia that’s challenging enough to be interesting, but doable by just about anyone? Look no further than Tray Mountain Rd. Not only do you pass through the coolest little tucked away town to get to the trail, there’s even a short 30 minute hike at the top to see some amazing panoramic views!
WHEN TO GO
Open year round, with the occasional exception for post weather repairs, and meandering through the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, it offers a different experience with each change of season. We explored it in late January when the forest was clear of leaves, offering frequent views of the Blue Mountains in the distance. In summer the trail will be canopied with trees making it more difficult to see the full landscape.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The trail itself is aptly named Tray Mountain “Road”, as its more of a single lane dirt road, and less of a “trail”. The road is passable by any high clearance vehicle, and is often frequented by hikers, walkers, and mountain bikes although we only encountered an occasional 4WD. It is a through road, so when fully open, you can go from Helen to Hiawassee or vice versa and there are a couple of off-shoots, which take you to the trail from other directions.
WHEELING FROM THE HELEN SIDE
We started on the Helen side, which is an awesome little mountain village known for its vineyards and Bavarian style buildings. The whole village is reminiscent of a town in Germany or Switzerland. Once you pass through you’ll follow the main road for a bit and Tray Mountain Rd will be off to the right and a little hard to see so you might pass by the entrance, like we did!
TACKLING THE TERRAIN
Most of the 15ish mile trail is a one lane decently smooth dirt road, but there are definitely spots where you’ll encounter deep ruts, rocky terrain, and some narrow turns with shoulders that drop off steeply. There was an occasional muddy hole and there are likely more when it’s been raining. We didn’t encounter anywhere that required 4L but we did use 4H in a few spots. We were also pulling a 13 foot overlanding teardrop camper and had no problems.
SUMMITING THE TOP
At the top you can opt for a 30 minute hike up to the summit, where apparently the sunsets are amazing because that seemed to be where the other trail riders were headed. We were ill prepared for the chilly temps and opted to skip the hike this time around.
Once at the top, we found the other side was closed, as was Corbin Creek Rd., another way to access the trail. We came down the way we went up, and opted for Indian Grave Gap Rd, an offshoot about half way down, to change up the ride back. Indian Grave Gap is also where you can access High Shoal Falls, and Blue Hole Falls, but we were hitting up against nightfall, so that’s on our list for next time!
Overall a super way to spend the afternoon, and definitely worth the drive. While not overly challenging, and not a Jeep Badge of Honor Trail, we’d give it a 3-4 on the Jeep Badge Trail Rating scale.