About The AT In Georgia
Underrated. That’s my one-word description for the AT through the peach state. If you’re heading northbound from Springer Mountain and getting used to hiking with a full load, you may be in tune with your calf muscles more than the scenery, but the area put enough of a hook in me on my section hike to add it to my “must return” list.
As topography goes, Georgia has enough ups, downs, and viewpoints to get you used to mountain trail hiking, which is a good thing, because you’ll really need to be in shape when you get to the Smoky Mountains!
Springer Mountain – The southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is similar to the northern terminus (Katahdin) in one way – you have to walk a few miles to get to it. But unlike Katahdin, the summit of Springer Mountain is wooded. Nonetheless, it’s an exhilarating feeling to be there.
Preacher Rock – Just 1.25 miles from Woody Gap and sure worth the climb! On the day I visited the viewpoint with my hiking buddy, a few locals showed up to take in the panorama. It’s terrific whatever the season.
Blood Mountain – At 4459′, it’s the highest point on the AT in Georgia. If you climbed southbound out of Neel’s Gap to get there, you had to work a little harder for it than the north bounders, but as I always say, the view always seems commensurate to the work it took to earn it! The most photographed viewpoint is the one I am standing at in this photo, just north of the summit. There’s also a great view from atop the giant boulder behind the summit shelter.
*Based on 2006-2011 data compiled by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Best Section Hike in Georgia
Dicks Creek Gap to Amicalola State Park (N to S) – 75.6 miles
Practically the whole thing! Dicks Creek Gap (8.9 miles south of the GA/NC border) is the northern access point for this trip. At the southern end, you’ll hike to the summit of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the AT.
Note: I included the 8.8-mile hike out to Amicalola State Park as part of the above trip. You can shave that mileage off by parking .9 mile north of the summit of Springer Mountain in the trailhead lot, then doing the nearly 2-mile “up and back” to Springer’s summit. That makes the alternate trip total just shy of 68 miles.
More about the AT
If you are interested in hiking the trail, you may find my book Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year hike on America’s trail a useful resource. I section-hiked the AT over nearly three decades with a good friend and we learned a lot!
If you are interested in the history of the Appalachian Trail — how the trail came into existence in the first place and the powerful personalities that got it built — you may enjoy Blazing Ahead: Benton MacKaye, Myron Avery and the Rivalry that Built the Appalachian Trail.