“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
– Beverly Sills
My darling husband isn’t as much of an outdoorsy explorer as I am. He begrudgingly comes along, but to his credit without much complaint. For this, I love him dearly.
We set out on Sunday morning intending to hike the 2 mile round trip trail to Preacher’s Rock just north of Dahlonega, GA. What we didn’t know was there was some 3000 cyclists coming through the area and the trail head parking lot was one of their water stops. It was not ideal as the parking lot is not the largest. Instead of doing the trail I researched, we ended up at the Dockery Lake Recreation Area a few miles down the road. Unfortunately, I had no idea what to expect here as we didn’t have cell service and I had only read about it in passing. Poor Alex.
The main trail head is just next to the small, but beautiful, Dockery Lake. It was the perfect little mountain lake with stunning views and quiet spots to sit at. There’s also a campground here as well as backcountry campsites along the trail. We glanced over the trail map that was posted and decided to just stop at some point along the way to have lunch.
The hike out was extremely enjoyable as it’s entirely downhill. At the beginning, you’re treated to some limited mountain views that are probably amazing in the late fall and winter. Until you get to the first creek crossing, the trail is mostly level. There’s five total creek crossings on Dockery Lake Trail. We did three of them and it was amusing.
If you do plan on doing this trail, keep in mind that the beginning is very narrow and entirely on the side of the mountain. You slip and it won’t be a fun time. I almost fell on our way back up, pretty sure my heart stopped for a moment. My ass certainly clenched.
Once you cross over the third creek, you’re pretty much on the valley floor. We went another half mile before finally stopping for lunch. We came across a pretty backcountry campsite next to Pigeon Roost Creek that even had a small fire pit. At this point, we were about 2.1 to 2.3 miles in on the trail. Keep in mind, the Dockery Lake Trail drops into the Appalachian Trail at about 3.5 miles. From there you can take the AT, go another 1.5 miles to Preacher’s Rock, or loop back to the very beginning of Dockery Lake ending in a 7.1 mile loop. We did not do any of these. Maybe as we continue to strengthen our skills we’ll go back at finish the trail.
After our lunch, we headed back. This is where the trail got rough for us. It’s entirely uphill out of the valley. I am by no means an in shape, small woman. My calves still hurt. It took us about another hour or so to hike back out and in total we did about 4.3 miles total. So much for my 2 miles round trip idea from earlier that morning. Honestly, it was an incredible time. We had so much fun crossing the creeks and laughing at each other trying to get over.
The real joy though was where we stayed the night. Instead of coming all the way home, we stayed at Barefoot Hills Hotel. It’s a small boutique hotel that puts the glam in glamping. Our room was a converted shipping container that came with beautiful sunrise views, a very comfortable bed, and private bathroom. Barefoot Hills has some fun amenities as well like a Happy Hour, sunset fire at the community fire pit, and yard games. After everything we had put our bodies through, I partook in the Happy Hour and we loved watching the sunset next to the fire.
As the sun was setting, we got to talking to an older couple that were already taking in the views. He was 70 and I think she said she was in her late 60s and they were finishing out the Appalachian Trail! They had started at the most northern part, caught a train down to Georgia once they finished in Virginia so they could start the trail down south to where they had left off in VA so they could finish out before winter started. We had so much fun talking to them and their adventures. Alex told me not to get any ideas, but who knows maybe we’ll do something insane like that when we’re retired. However, given this economy we’ll probably be working until we’re 100. Thanks Boomers.
All in all it was a wonderful weekend. It gave us time away from our busy schedules and to just enjoy each other’s company. Next week will be the beginning of our October travels so keep an eye out on my Instagram and TikTok for all the fun! If you’d like to see more of our Dockery Lake Trail hike, look me up on TikTok @travelinfoodies. If you do decide to hike, remember what you take in, you pack out, do not feed the wildlife, and do not bring home any souvenirs other than your photos and memories. If you’d like more information on Barefoot Hills, I’ve linked their website here. As usual, travel often and travel safe.