Start YOUR Appalachian Trail Journey

Appalachian Trail | Blue Ridge

Gear packed, excited, and ready to head out on your Appalachian Trail journey along the East Coast? Then you should probably figure out where you would like to begin your thru-hike, aka hiking an entire trail in one direction from one end to end. Where is the start of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia? There are 2 starting points — Springer Mountain in Blue Ridge and Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville. Deciding which path to start on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail isn’t always easy, but as experts on everything North Georgia, we’re here to help! 

The Appalachian Trail

Tons of hiking trails wind throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains, but the renowned Appalachian Trail is special and deserves more thought and planning. As the longest hiking-only footpath in the world — about 5 million steps to complete! — the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is noteworthy indeed for any visitors, day hikers, section hikers, or thru-hikers. 

The Appalachian Trail follows the eastern ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, spans 2,193 miles, ranges approximately 464,500 feet in elevation, and stretches from Georgia’s Springer Mountain all the way to Maine’s Mount Katahdin in New England. In fact, the A.T. passes through 14 states — Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. 

Since the northern section is considered the toughest part of the trail, many people opt to traverse the Appalachian Trail northbound (NOBO) in an effort to work their way up in stamina and experience while backpacking through the backcountry of national parks and national forests — including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Shenandoah National Park. To note, the A.T. is primarily managed and protected by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service, and 31 trail clubs.

Of course, if you just want a sneak peek of this long-distance hiking trail, access points to the Appalachian Trail can be found throughout Blue Ridge in Fannin County, Georgia. Even so, it’s neat to see the start of something so epic in the Chattahoochee National Forest

Springer Mountain

Perhaps the better-known start of the Appalachian Trail is Springer Mountain in Blue Ridge, Georgia. At the top, you’ll find a notable bronze plaque that reads “A footpath for those who seek fellowship with the wilderness.” 

There are 2 paths to reach the summit of Springer Mountain: a short 1-mile hike from the Springer Mountain parking area or a longer 4-mile hike from Three Forks, a junction of the Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail. 

Directions to the Springer Mountain Parking Area

  1. From Blue Ridge, take Aska Road 13.5 miles to a dead end. 
  2. Turn right onto Newport Road for 4.5 miles to another dead end. 
  3. Turn right onto Doublehead Gap for 2 miles. 
  4. Turn left onto FS Road 42. 
  5. Parking will be roughly 7 miles ahead on the left. 
  6. Cross the street and start your hike to the summit of Springer Mountain.

Directions to the Three Forks Parking Area

  1. From Blue Ridge, take Aska Road 13.5 miles to a dead end. 
  2. Turn right onto Newport Road for 4.5 miles to another dead end. 
  3. Turn right onto Doublehead Gap and travel across a concrete bridge until the road turns to gravel/dirt. 
  4. Continue for just under half a mile, past a church and cemetery, then turn right onto Forest Service Road 58 (also gravel/dirt). 
  5. After 5.3 miles, you’ll reach the Three Forks parking area. 
  6. Follow the hikers crossing sign and start your scenic hike to Springer Mountain.

Amicalola Falls State Park

Take the trail less traveled — and less crowded — when you start the Appalachian Trail at Amicalola Falls State Park (AFSP). In fact, the 8-mile, blue-blazed Approach Trail that leads to Springer Mountain was part of the original Appalachian Trail until 1958.

Along this path, you can snap a photo under the stone archway behind the visitor center, refresh by Georgia’s tallest waterfall — Amicalola Falls — enjoy mountaintop views, and reach the summit of Springer Mountain while following the blue blazes. 

Directions to Amicalola Falls State Park

  1. From Blue Ridge, take US-76 West for 13.6 miles. 
  2. Turn left onto State Road 52 / US-76 CONN. Continue onto Greenfield Road.
  3. Take an immediate left onto GA-52 East for 17.7 miles.
  4. At the traffic circle, take the second exit to continue on GA-52 East for 1.5 miles. 
  5. Turn left onto Amicalola Falls State Park Road. In 150 feet, you’ll see the paved parking area.
  6. Check out the visitor center and start your journey to Springer Mountain. 

Tips for a Successful Hike

  • Beware of the wilderness and local wildlife. Research bear and plant safety before you go. 
  • Look up the weather and type of terrain to properly prepare. 
  • Wear weather-appropriate clothing and shoes. 
  • Know where prime campsites are ahead of time and plot out your route carefully.
  • Know the limitations of your body. Don’t push yourself…or it won’t be a positive trip.
  • Bring enough water and food to get you from A to B and back with ample energy. 
  • Leave no trace. Leave nothing behind. What you take on the trail, you must bring back with you.

Where to Stay

Not planning to tackle the entire 2,000+ mile hike? We totally get it. Just a taste is all you need, and the Blue Ridge Mountains are quite a beautiful sight indeed! So, where do you go after hiking the start of the Appalachian Trail? Head back to rest, relax, and recharge at your North Georgia cabin rental with Georgia Cabins for YOU.  

Soaking tired muscles in a steamy hot tub with massaging jets — excellent after day hikes — eating dinner down by the Toccoa River, watching the somehow-still-energetic kiddos get out their wiggles playing games, and shooting pool while enjoying local wine is a great way to end the day, eh? 

Plus, our Blue Ridge cabin rentals feature homey conveniences and even more bonus amenities, like fireplaces, king-size beds, outdoor lounges, big screen TVs, fully equipped kitchens, grills, and high speed Wi-Fi. A cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the perfect pick to wind down after a day of fun exploring the start of the Appalachian Trail.