Help me help my mom hike the AT
September 27, 2016 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Hiking a tiny part of the Appalachian Trail is on my mom's bucket list. I want to make it happen for her when she visits Georgia this October. Is there a place in GA or just over the border into NC where we can: 1. park fairly easily near the Appalachian Trail? 2. hike a portion of trail (like a mile in and back) that is somewhat level, or at least not steep? 3. Anything else I need to know? I'm a casual day-hiker only.

She is in her 60s, quite fit, but wants to avoid climbing/steep hiking if possible. I have a bum knee and would tough it out for her, but avoiding climbing sounds great to me too. The trouble is that the two access points I'm familiar with require some steep climbing (up to Springer Mtn -I've heard, and from the Winfield Scott Lake - I've done this one, too steep for her).

Our ideal day would be: drive out from Atlanta area in the morning, park by the trail, walk for about an hour, have a lunch/snack, hike back, drive home.

I can find a lot of resources online, and I can rule out some locations, but I can't tell if some of them might be right for us. Can you recommend a place to go?

So, where should we go?
posted by banjonaut to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I assume you've already found the pages from Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, which have a lot of useful information on day hikes. The Long Creek Falls hike looks like a potential candidate — only 1 mile each way and 200' elevation change.

However, I have not been there personally, so this information should be taken with a grain of salt.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2016

There's a really beautiful hike from the base of Springer Mountain (the AT starts at the top of the mountain) down to Three Forks. There's a description here, although it goes in the reverse direction from what I'm suggesting. If you start at the base of Springer and hike down to Three Forks, it will be 3 miles one direction, and slightly down hill most of the way. About 1 mile from Springer, you will pass an AT shelter that has a privy -- it's a nice new shelter, and a pleasant spot to stop for lunch (you can sit at a table to eat, and you won't have to squat behind a tree to answer the call of nature). I know you were looking for an out and back hike, and that this is longer than you want, but it's easy walking. It's also very easy to hire a shuttle along this part of the AT -- they'll drop you off at one end (Springer) and you walk down to the other (Three Forks) and they'll either pick you up or will have dropped off your car so you can hop in and drive away. This way, it's a 3 mile hike, not a 6 mile hike.

You could also start at Three Forks and just walk 1 mile out toward Springer and back. There's good parking at Three Forks and it's a very, very beautiful area.

If that doesn't appeal, I suggest that you contact the lovely people at the Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega, GA. Don't let the name put you off -- this is a very nice bed and breakfast, with several private rooms available. They can suggest hikes and do provide shuttles, if you decide to go that route.
posted by OrangeDisk at 8:48 AM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I meant to add -- I have no affiliation with Hiker Hostel, but stayed there once and liked it. I have also done the hike I describe and enjoyed it. I would take my 70 year old mom (with bad hips) on it.
posted by OrangeDisk at 8:57 AM on September 27, 2016

Amicalola Falls State Park is the closest access point where you can park. It looks like it's about 7.5 miles from there to the AT proper.
posted by thelonius at 9:10 AM on September 27, 2016

I respectfully disagree with @thelonius. There's a parking lot at the base of Springer mountain off a Forest Service road, and good parking at access spots up and down the trail. You may have to drive unpaved (but graded and graveled) Forest Service roads, but parking near the trail is not hard.
posted by OrangeDisk at 9:59 AM on September 27, 2016

OrangeDisk is probably right - thanks!
posted by thelonius at 11:42 AM on September 27, 2016

« Older How do I gift a small share in a stock to a child?   |   For love of the game Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.