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Hike the Appalachian Trail

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POSTED: December 20, 2007 5:02 a.m.
Winding over 2,100 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin in Main, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail traces the path of the Appalachian mountains, passing through 14 states, two national parks, and eight national forests. Hikers are responsible for the upkeep of the primitive shelters and trailside campsites, seven to eight miles apart.

The Georgia trail

The Appalachian Trail in Georgia extends some 80 miles through primitive areas of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Although rising at times to elevations of over 4,400 feet, the Trail is mostly along the ridges at elevations around 3,000 feet. It offers unlimited hiking adventure of exceptional challenge and variety. Ascents and descents are sometimes steep, but are often rewarded by scenic vistas from rocky outcrops and open summits.
The trail’s southern terminus is located atop remote Springer Mountain, near Forest Service Rd. 42. Since this area is difficult to reach by automobile, an 8.5-mile blue-blazed “approach trail” begins at Amicalola Falls State Park on GA 52. Outstanding scenic peaks along the Trail include Big Cedar, Blood, Cowrock, Rocky and Tray Mountain. one of the many side trails leads from Chattahoochee Gap to the highest point in Georgia, Brasstown Bald. Bly Gap on the Georgia/North Carolina border is the northern end of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. The Georgia part of the Appalachian Trail is maintained by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, Chattahoochee National Forest.

Reaching the trail

There is no public transportation to the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. The trail can be reached by way of the six main highways, which traverse the mountains; usually the trail crosses at the highway’s highest point, where a large hiking trail sign should be visible. Ample parking is available. These crossings and approximate distances from the nearest town are:
• Amicalola Fall State Park (approach trail) on GA 52: 15 miles west of Dahlonega, 15 miles northwest of Dawsonville, 20 miles east of Ellijay.
• Woody Gap on GA 60: 15 miles north of Dahlonega.
• Neels Gap on U.S. 129/19: 15 miles south of Blairsville, 19 miles northwest of Cleveland, 22 miles north of Dahlonega.
• Tesnatee Gap and Hog Pen Gap on GA 348 (Richard Russell Scenic Highway): 12 mile northwest of Helen, 15 miles southeast of Blairsville.
• Unicoi Gap on GA 75: 10 miles north of Helen, 14 miles of Hiawassee.
• Dicks Creek Gap on U.S. 76: 11 miles east of Hiawassee, 18 miles west of Clayton.

Trail markings
The Trail is marked throughout it’s length with rectangular white blazes. Side trails and trails to water are blue-blazed. Turns in the trail are marked with double blazes, which indicate caution; signs are placed at road crossings, shelters, and other important intersections. The hiker should almost always be able to see a blaze up ahead; if a blaze in not found within a reasonable distance, stop and backtrack if necessary.

Trail shelters
There are 11 shelters on the Georgia portion of the Appalachian Trail. All but one of these shelters are three-sided, open-front types, are floored and have springs reasonably close by. The exception is the stone two-room structure on top of Blood Mountain. It has four sides, a fireplace, windows, and a sleeping platform. There is no water on top of Blood Mountain.
Courtesy of Georgiaoutdoors.com
 

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