Georgia's Appalachian Trail
If one is an avid hiker, then following the beginning miles of the Appalachian Trail is a “must do” part of your Georgia travel. With its winding trails, beautiful vistas and gurgling streams there is no end to the adventure of hiking this famed American trail.
The starting point for the Appalachian Trail is Springer Mountain, located about 28 miles northwest of Dahlonega. The Appalachian Trail, or AT, is the longest continuous trail in the Eastern United States, traversing through Georgia and through 14 north and southeastern states, ending 2,000 miles later at Mt. Katahdin, Maine.
Georgia’s 75.6 miles of the AT often run through primitive areas of the Chattahoochee National Forest and occasionally climbs to 4,000 feet, but most of it is along ridges at elevations of 3,000 feet. Although the path is often steep, you are rewarded with phenomenal views of rocky outcroppings and sensational summits. The AT is marked along the way with signs and symbols to let you know a direction, upcoming shelters, road crossings and other pertinent information. There is no public transportation to the AT in Georgia; however, the trail can be reached from the highways that travel the mountains.
There are a myriad of mountain trails which intersect with the AT, or you can begin at its southern terminus at Springer Mountain. Views from Springer Mountain include the virgin hemlock grove along Stover Creek, and seeing the three streams converge at Three Forks. South on the AT from Neel’s Gap is the moderate 4.2 mile round trip climb to Blood Mountain. At the top of Blood Mountain you will find a 2 room structure with a fireplace, windows and sleeping area, but be sure to bring your own water as there is not any at the top.
The AT passes through five of Georgia’s wilderness areas--the Tray Mountain Wilderness area, the Raven Cliffs, the Southern Nantahala, the Mark Trail Wilderness and the Blood Mountain Wilderness. There are multiple long trails and shorter day hikes, as well as shelters to choose from to help you make the most of your AT hiking experience, so you will want to pick up a hiking guide at one of the areas visitor centers to help you plan your outdoor excursion. So, get on your hiking boots, load your backpack and come see what the AT is all about. You’ll be glad you did!