Tray Mtn: Drive to Trailhead & Trail Guide

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

NOTE: There are four ‘entry points’ to the trailhead. 3 of 4 are sometimes impassible for a sedan.:

  • Southern: Tray Mountain Road all the way from GA-75. In 2020, this had scary erosion gullies and a huge mud wallow.
  • Ford: Ford a creek near GA-75 on Indian Grave Gap (IGG) Road, past IGG, then Tray Mountain Rd. The Tray Mountain stretch is sometimes too rutted. The creek bed is lined with fist-sized rocks. I’ve never had a problem crossing it with my Corolla, but it is scary because I can’t see the creek bed well. IGG Road is always in very good condition for a forest service dirt road.
  • Northern: Drive past other two entry points, cross new Hiwasee River bridge, Corbin Creek Rd all the way. Bumpy and long. Sometimes impassible in a sedan.
  • Indian Grave Gap: Park at Indian Grave Gap and walk 1.8 miles to Tray Gap.


  • 2020.09.04: Tray Mtn Rd between GA-75 and IGG Road. Very scary. Erosion gullies and huge mud wallow. I had to leave the road and drive between trees to get around mud wallow. This is Tray Mountain Road before reaching Indian Grave Gap road.
  • 2018.08.26: Foot-deep erosion gully from one side of the road to the other, just past the 6 mile mark on Corbin Creek Rd.
  • 2016.05: Tray Mtn Rd from IGG Rd to Tray Gap deeply rutted; unsafe to drive in a sedan. Deep ruts, big rocks.
  • 2015: Corbin Creek Rd is 10.1 miles and 45 minutes to Tray Gap. Rough but not “Wonder Mode”.
  • If you park at Indian Grave Gap, hike to Tray Gap is extra 1.8 miles one-way.

Drive Guide - Atlanta to GA-75

Getting to near the destination (applies to all 3 entry points):

  • 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.)
  • Continue to intersection of GA-75A and GA-75. Turn L. Unicoi Gap is 7.8.


  • Last McDonalds: GA-400 at GA-53 (38 miles north of I-285)
    • If you miss it, 5 minute detour to McD at 1550 S MAIN ST, Cleveland.
  • Penultimate McDonalds: 2815 Keith Bridge Rd, Cumming

Drive Guide - Tray Gap Trailhead From Atlanta via Corbin Creek Rd

  • Duration: 2:30
  • Google Maps URL from Atlanta (33.917, -84.3378):
  • Follow directions for “Atlanta to GA-75”
  • L on GA-75 and go 12.4
  • After crossing Hiwasee River, R on first road. (It is paved for 10’.)
  • Immediate R on (dirt) Corbin Creek Rd and go 10.2

Drive Guide - Tray Gap Trailhead From Unicoi Gap (Blue Mtn Parking) via Corbin Creek Rd

  • Duration: 0:50
  • Google Maps URL from Atlanta (33.917, -84.3378):
  • Follow directions for “Atlanta to GA-75”
  • R on GA-75 (north) from parking and go 4.6
  • After crossing Hiwasee River, R on first road. (It is paved for 10’.)
  • Immediate R on (dirt) Corbin Creek Rd and go 10.2

Drive Guide - Tray Gap Trailhead via Tray Mtn Rd

  • Duration: 2:15 to Tray Mtn. Tray Mtn Rd is slow.
  • Google Maps URL from Atlanta (33.917, -84.3378):
  • Seasonal/Limited Access:
    • 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:
    • Follow directions for “Atlanta to GA-75”
    • Final approach (60 minutes - tell Google Maps to take you to 34.79921, -83.69089. This is much slower than Google estimates.):
      • L on GA-75
      • 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”.
      • At 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. Road to R is now perma-closed.

Drive Guide - 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.
  • Note: This is a very good quality dirt road. You will pass right by the route to Standing Indian.
  • Head 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.
  • 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 IGG
    • Road fords a creek. I had no trouble at 6” deep water level in my Corolla.

Drive Guide - Tray Mountain TO Atlanta via Tray Mtn Rd

  • 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 - Indian Grave Gap to Tray Gap

  • Distance (one way): 1.7 miles. 1:00 up, 0:45 down.
  • Navigation - Follow white AT blazes. Trailhead is across the street from the trail to Rocky Mountain.

Trail Guide - Tray Mountain from Tray Gap

  • Distance (one way): 0.7 (0:35 up, 0:25 down)
  • Navigation - Follow white AT blazes, 0.7 miles, 500’ climb.
    • Trailhead is straight ahead as you drive into the gap).
  • Altitude: 3760’ @ Tray Gap. Summit: 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
    • Grid Square: EM84dt

Summit Guide

  • For the view, stop at the summit. For a better operating site, continue 1/10 mile to a campsite, which I measured to be within the activation zone. About 20 ft past the summit, there was a new cleared area about 15’x15’ in 2020. This looks like the best operating position.
  • Hang antenna from tree: Poor on the summit. Very nice at the campsite.
  • Space to guy mast: Challenging on the summit (Bungee mast to shrubs). Better at the campsite.
  • Cell coverage: AT&T SMS worked from the campsite in 2020; APRS text worked (on the summit; not tested at campsite)
  • Unique features: Nice view. Benchmark embedded in trail on summit.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • I drove Indian Grave Gap Rd in a Corolla with no problems in dry weather. 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.