Ascent of Tray Mountain on 2011-12-31

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Saturday, December 31, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Tray Mountain
    Elevation:4430 ft / 1350 m

Ascent Trip Report

Of the three long rough roads that lead to Tray Gap, Tray Mountain Road seems to be the most traveled, compared to Chimney Mountain Road from the SE or Corbin Creek Rd from the NE. In decent weather, any car should be able to make it up Tray Mountain Road, but you'll have your doubts along the way. It's 8 miles of gravel that looks like it hasn't been maintained in years. Take heart: the road generally gets better toward the top.

Allow 40 minutes for the 10-mile drive from Helen GA.

Headed north on GA 17/75 (the main street in Helen) zero your odometer on the Chattahoochee River bridge.
2.2 miles--turn R on unsigned Tray Mountain Road. There is a small black sign for Bison View Lodge.
5.3 miles--pass Bison View Lodge on L.
8.3 miles--the road forks. The L fork is Indian Gap Road, which leads down to GA 17/75 north of Unicoi Gap. Take the R fork to continue on Tray Mountain Road. The next little stretch is the roughest on the road, but it soon improves.
9.3 miles--AT crossing. There's no room for parking here, and you don't need to. The AT crosses the road again at Tray Gap.
10.2 miles--Park at Tray Gap.

When I found the first AT crossing, I assumed this must be Tray Gap, so I wedged my car onto the shoulder and headed up the AT northbound. This adds 2 miles and 350 feet of climbing to the roundtrip. It's a not a bad stretch of the AT, but not necessary if you're just going to Tray Mtn.

The hike from Tray Gap to the summit of Tray Mtn is simple: 0.8 miles and 570 feet of climbing. Nice views from the outcropping at the top. Even better views if you continue another quarter-mile.

Continue on the AT northbound for 0.12 miles to a campsite on the R. This is the second of the three 4400-foot contours on Tray Mtn, and the bump is evidently the tri-county corner point and the HP of Habersham County.

Find an unmarked but well-used trail that leads SE through a rhododendron thicket to more campsites. It emerges on a ledge that has the third 4400-foot contour. However, it is obviously lower than the others (30 feet lower, according to my altimeter).

The view here features Standing Indian to the NE, Rabun Bald and Lake Burton to the E, Yonah Mtn to the S, and (on a clear day) Stone Mtn, the Atlanta skyline, and Kennesaw Mtn to the SW. The path of the 2011 tornado that ravaged million-dollar homes on Lake Burton is clearly marked by flattened trees.

The round trip is just over 2 miles from Tray Gap to the viewpoint on the other side. (From where I started at the first AT crossing, it's 4 miles roundtrip.)

My 8th and 9th COHPs in Georgia (4th and 5th today) and 98th and 99th overall. Later in the day, I got my 100th in the county where I was raised, Anderson SC.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1035 ft / 315 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1035 ft / 314 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1035 ft / 315 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 915 ft / 279 m; Extra: 120 ft / 36m
    Loss on way in:120 ft / 36 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Route:AT northbound
    Start Trailhead:Tray Mtn Rd 1 mile SW of Tray Gap  3515 ft / 1071 m
    Time:1 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:915 ft / 278 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Route:AT southbound
    End Trailhead:Tray Mtn Rd 1 mile SW of Tray Gap  3515 ft / 1071 m
    Time:1 Hours 
Ascent Part of Trip: Tray Mtn GA

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Tray Mountain2011-12-31 d1035 ft / 315 m
2Tray Mountain-Southeast Peak2011-12-31 e 
Total Trip Gain: 1035 ft / 315 m    Total Trip Loss: 1035 ft / 315 m

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