James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail Black Rock Mountain State Park, GA
miles
LENGTH 6.7 MILES
DIFFICULTY 17.1 Medium
Hard
DURATION 3-4 hours
ELEVATION GAIN
2270
feet
TRAIL TYPE
Loop
James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail

The most difficult hike in Georgia's highest elevation state park, the James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail at Black Rock Mountain State Park will take you on a roller coaster of steep hills, giving your cardiovascular heath a checkup. But with great views from Lookoff Mountain, several peaceful creeks, a waterfall and an optional loop around Black Rock Lake, the trail offers plenty of reward for those who do take the challenge.

If you drive past the trailhead you'll arrive a the Visitor Center where you'll be rewarded with instant views. You can also find maps and restrooms here. Back at the trailhead, walk through the picnic area to begin the hike. Immediately the Tennessee Rock Trail splits to the left at the sign.

The hike is well blazed with orange. In general, if you hike more than a minute without seeing a blaze you're going the wrong way. Most intersections are easy to navigate and many have signs pointing the way. If starting with the East Fork, when the loop is furthest from the trailhead and begins to head back it angles sharply downhill to the left. Instead, continue straight to Lookoff Mountain. I didn't see a sign from the East Fork, but there was one from the West Fork side. Also at the end of the smaller loop on Lookoff, continue straight, heading downhill along the bare rock trail for the 180-degree view at the overlook.

Even though the navigation below is lengthy, other than the two previously mentioned exceptions, the trail is easy to follow. At the loop split, stay to the right to start with the East Fork or if you want a more difficult hike, start with the West Fork (flip elevation gain and loss below). If you want to add some distance without difficulty, take the white-blazed connector to the Black Rock Lake Trail.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Slope Breakdown
Elevation Gain
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Length
Elevation Gain
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
0.8 mi
71 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.9 mi
342 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
0.6 mi
366 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
0.8 mi
707 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
0.6 mi
791 ft
Elevation Loss
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Length
Elevation Loss
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
0.7 mi
109 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.4 mi
162 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
0.5 mi
343 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
0.5 mi
432 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
0.9 mi
1228 ft
Terrain Map Click to control map
Navigation
Reverse Hike loop in reverse direction.
0.0 mi
0.0 mi - Trailhead The hike shares the trailhead with the Tennessee Rock Trail. Walk through the picnic area before the two trails split. Stay to the right at the sign.
0.7 mi
0.7 mi - Loop Split, Then Straight Stay right to head around the loop counter-clockwise along the East Fork half of the trail first. Pass a side trail to Fern Cove Campsite on the right.
1.1 mi
1.1 mi - Stay Straight Looks like an old road on the right, follow the blazes straight.
1.3 mi
1.3 mi - Road Crossing
2.0 mi
2.0 mi - Waterslide on Left Good place to take a quick break along a creek with a short narrow waterslide along the rocks.
2.2 mi
2.2 mi - Gravel Road Crossing
3.0 mi
3.0 mi - Turn Left Connect with an old road. Stay left following blazes.
3.2 mi
3.2 mi - West Fork, But Stay Straight The West Fork section turns back sharply downhill to the left. Instead, stay straight to head to Lookoff Mountain. A blaze was not immediately apparent. There is a sign from the West Fork side but not the East Fork side.
3.3 mi
3.3 mi - Lookoff Mountain Loop Split Small loop around Lookoff Mountain splits. Turn right for the longer but easier path. Left is steeper but shorter.
3.6 mi
3.6 mi - Lookoff Mountain Overlook When the small loop starts to turn back, continue straight along the bare rock trail just a few more feet to the overlook.
3.9 mi
3.9 mi - West Fork Finish the smaller loop then head back to the West Fork trail that went downhill from before.
4.0 mi
4.0 mi - Turn Right Unmarked side trail to left. Look for blazes.
4.8 mi
4.8 mi - Cross Gravel Road, Connector Trail on Right Look to the right about 20 ft down the road. Just before two bridges, the white-blazed connector trail to Black Rock Lake loop leaves to the right.
5.2 mi
5.2 mi - Waterfall, Then Left Pass a cascading waterfall on the left. After the waterfall, turn left following signs and blazes. To the right is Creek Ridge Campsite
5.6 mi
5.6 mi - Road Crossing Look to the left about 20 ft down the road.
5.9 mi
5.9 mi - Finish Loop Reconnect with the original loop split. Stay Right.
6.7 mi
6.7 mi - Return to Trailhead
Details
length6.7 miles
difficulty17.1 Medium-Hard
duration3 - 4 hours
trail typeLoop
blazeOrange
elevation gain2270 ft.
state Georgia 
park/forestBlack Rock Mountain State Park
visitor infoVisitor Center
3085 Black Rock Mountain Parkway
Mountain City, GA 30562
706-746-2141
hours7am - 10pm (Park)
8am - 5pm (Visitor Center)
parking fee$5/Day, $50 Annual Pass
trailhead coordinates 34.907349, -83.412064 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 34°54.44, W 83°24.72 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 34°54'26'', N 34°54'26'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
34.907349, -83.412064 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 34°54.44, W 83°24.72 most GPS units use this one
N 34°54'26'', N 34°54'26'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
The trailhead is shared with the Tennessee Rock Trail.
Parking Capacity
15-20 vehicles.
Notes
Make sure to head up Black Rock Mountain Parkway for several overlooks as well as excellent views at the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has maps, restrooms, snacks and drinks.
Want to add a mile without much more difficulty? Take the white-blazed connector to the Black Rock Lake Loop.
A few downed trees you'll have to crawl over or under, but nothing too bad.
There are 4 road crossings in total. Remember your training and look both ways.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (1)
hikethesouth-2 months ago
Classic GA Hike
Get a workout in and enjoy this classic GA hike. Walk along small mountain creeks and enjoy a nice waterfall and view. Review the elevation map, because this trail is going either up or down without a lot of breaks.
Medium-Hard | Hiked Spring 2019
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