- The southern end of the Appalachian Mountain range begins in the northeast corner of Georgia, about an hour north of Atlanta. Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest peak at 4,784 feet, is located outside Blairsville. The Appalachian Trail begins/ends at Springer Mountain, between Ellijay and Dahlonega, eight miles north of Amicalola Falls State Park.
It’s a 10- to 11-hour road trip from Wheeling to the Dahlonega in the heart of the North Georgia mountains, depending on your route.
Google Maps takes you down I-77 and I-81 to Charlotte, N.C., and then I-85 South to Athens, Ga., before heading the remaining 40 miles north to Dahlonega — 422 miles;10 hours, 35 minutes. I took I-70 across Ohio and came down I-75 to Cleveland, Tenn. and then followed the stunning Ocoee River (site of the whitewater rafting competition for the 1996 Summer Olympics) down into Georgia — 659 miles; 11 hours, 12 minutes.
Helen, Ga., is about 30 miles west of Dahlonega, and the first half of the journey is twisty-turny, making the travel time 45 minutes.
Cleveland, Ga., is between Dahlonega and Helen, about a half-hour east of Dahlonega and 20 minutes south of Helen.