Tray Mtn: Drive to Trailhead & Trail Guide

  • Update: 2016.05 - Tray Mtn Rd from the junction with Indian Grave Gap Rd to Tray Gap is deeply rutted and unsafe to drive in a sedan. Deep ruts, big rocks. Note to self - Don’t do it!
  • Corbin Creek Rd is 10.1 miles and 45 minutes to Tray Gap. Corbin Creek Rd is rough but not “Wonder Mode”.
  • Back in 2012 I was told that Tray Gap Road beyond the gap (i.e. the right fork at the gap) is deeply rutted and unsuitable for 2WD.
  • Either take the long, rough drive up Corbin Creek Rd or park at Indian Grave Gap and hike an extra 1.7 miles one-way.

NOTE: **Do not drive through Helen. Traffic is often 2 MPH. **

Drive Guide - Tray Mountain (Tray Gap trailhead) via Tray Mtn Rd

Directions:

  • Duration: 2:15 to Tray Mtn. Tray Mtn Rd is slow.
  • Google Maps URL from Ashford Dunwoody Rd and I-285 at 33.91998, -84.33898:
    • http://goo.gl/maps/p7PG4
  • SOTA Extra Info Page: http://sotawatch.org/summits.php?summit=w4g/ng-005
  • Seasonal/Limited Access:
    • Condition of road from junction with Indian Grave Gap Rd to Tray Gap varies from year to year. Sometimes it is drivable in a sedan; sometimes it really needs 4WD + HGC.
    • Gates at both ends of IGG Rd. Season is unknown. No gates on TM Rd.
  • Directions:
    • Getting to near the destination:
      • N on GA-400 and go 47 miles.
      • At end of 400 (@ GA-60) go straight onto GA-115. Go 4.8
      • GA-115 turns R. (About 60 minute drive to this turn.) Go 11.4.
      • L on Tesnatee Gap Valley Rd. There’s a left turn lane. Go 2.8.
      • Go straight onto McAfee Rd. (Tesnatee turns left.) Go 0.2
      • L on US-129 N at T. (About 1:15 total drive time to this turn.) Go 0.8.
      • R on GA-75A. Go 8.0. (Pass Richard B Russell Scenic Hwy at 1:25 from trip start.)
      • From intersection of GA-75A and GA-75, on GA-75 go north
    • Final approach (60 minutes - tell Google Maps to take you to 34.79921, -83.69089. This is much slower that Google estimates.):
      • Watch for mile marker 8. ~ 0.2 to TM Rd.
      • Watch for brown house on left, close to road, with no windows. TM Rd imminent.
      • R on Tray Mountain Rd. Small, thin sign “Bison View Lodge”.
      • After about 15 minutes, large gate made of black logs on right. “No trespassing”.
      • 5 more minutes to junction w/IGG Rd. Keep right on Tray Mountain RD (USFS-79).
      • 10 more minutes to Tray Gap. Roads to L and R with AT in center. (Both roads un-gated.)
  • Food
    • Last McDonalds: GA-400 at GA-53 (38 miles north of I-285)
      • If you miss it, you can swing by 1550 S MAIN ST, Cleveland, adding 5 minutes.
    • Dinner: Barbecue in Helen or Barbecue at GA-400 and Hwy 53

Drive Guide - Tray Mountain (Tray Gap trailhead) from Rocky Mtn at Indian Grave Gap Trailhead

  • Duration: 0:10.
  • Directions
    • Drive south about 0.6 miles
    • Acute Left turn and go 1.8
    • See notes elswhere in this guide regarding road condition to Tray Gap.

Drive Guide - Tray Mountain (Indian Grave Gap trailhead) from YELLOW BALD

  • Duration: 2:00. Although Tray Mtn Rd is SLOW, the roads near Yellow Bald are very good.
  • Directions
    • Note: This is a very good quality dirt road.
    • Note: You will pass right by the route to Standing Indian.
    • Head back out the way you came in on USFS-67 (the only way - you’re at the end of the road!) and go 2.1
    • R on USFS-67, following sign to Standing Indian and go 9.5. (Last mile or two is paved.)
    • L on Allison Creek Rd / Old Murphy Rd and go 1.9
    • L on US-64 West and go 16.4
      • Note: You will briefly pick-up a 3G AT&T signal, about 2 miles before you leave 64. This would be a good time to get Google Maps to route you to your destination. (I needed it because the road had been re-routed.)
    • L on NC-175 S and go 0.8. Turn R to cross bridge, staying on NC-175 and go 3.4 more.
    • S on GA-75 S and go 3.5
    • Bear L on GA-2/GA-75 and go 3.3
      • Fast food, including McDonalds here.
    • R on GA-75 S and go 6.8
    • L onto Indian Grave Gap Rd, marked USFS-283 and “High Shoals Scenic Area” and go 3.5 to Indian Grave Gap
      • Road fords a creek. I had no trouble at 6” deep water level in my Corolla.

Drive Guide - Tray Mountain TO Atlanta

  • Head southwest out of the gap and go 1.8
  • Bear L to stay on Tray Mtn Rd and go 6
    • or go R 3.7 on Indian Grave Gap to GA-75. This is a little faster.
  • L on GA-75 S and go 0.7
  • R on GA-75 Alt and go 8.1
  • L on US-129 S and go 0.8
  • R on McAfee Rd / Tesnatee Gap Rd and go 3
  • R on GA-115 S and go 11.5
  • L on GA-115 S and go 4.8
  • South on GA-400

Trail Guide - Tray Mountain from Tray Gap

  • Distance (one way): 0.7 (0:35 up, 0:25 down)
  • Navigation - Follow white AT blazes.
    • Tray Mtn - 0.5 miles, 500’ climb
      • Trailhead is straight ahead as you drive into the gap)
      • 0.7 summit - You’ll find the benchmark embedded in granite in the path.
  • Trailhead altitude: 3760’ @ Tray Gap parking @ 34.79918, -83.69108
  • Summit altitude:
    • Tray Mtn 4430’
  • GPS tracks/waypoints:
    • Indian Grave Gap trailhead 34.79292, -83.71414
    • Tray Gap trailhead 34.79921, -83.69089
    • Tray Mtn Summit 34.80140, -83.68380

Summit Guide

  • For the view, stop at the summit. For a better operating site, continue about 1/10 mile to a campsite, which I measured to be within the activation zone.
  • Hang antenna from tree:
    • Poor on the summit (mostly dwarf trees & Rhodadendron);
    • Very nice at the campsite.
  • Space to guy mast:
    • Challenging on the summit (I did bungee a mast to shrubs)
    • Better at the campsite.
  • Cell coverage: Good AT&T and Verizon; APRS text worked (on the summit - did not test at campsite)
  • Unique features: Nice view. Easy to find benchmark on summit.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • I drove Indian Grave Gap Rd in a Corolla with no problems in dry weather. Don’t drive too fast - there are some surprise potholes and runoff gullies. The ford on IGG Rd went OK in a dry week. Don’t try it after heavy rain. Maintain momentum crossing the creek, to avoid trouble climbing out.
  • There is a very weak Internet/data connection in Tray Gap.