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Frequently Asked Questions

General Disclaimer: While references are made to specific products and services throughout this document, the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club does not endorse or promote any specific named service or product. They are provided for general reference only.

Guide Books and Maps?

The most commonly used guide books are: “The A.T. Guide” by David “AWOL” Miller, published by Jerelyn Press  and the “Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion” By The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association and published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The guides are updated annually and are available in late winter. The trail descriptions include profiles, distances to shelters, camping locations, water, trail heads/parking, shuttle operators and hostels. Both guides are available at local outfitters. We strongly recommend that you plan your hike with a guide book and be sure to bring in along with you. Also, Guthook AT Guide app, for Android and iPhones is commonly used and is available at your app store.

Maps are available from the ATC, outfitters, National Geographic and others. Note that these are updated far less often and have much less detail than the guides. They are useful for finding trail heads and could assist in emergency situations requiring departure from the trail.

Bly Gap and the northern-most sections of the Georgia AT

These northern-most 9 miles of the trail, Dicks Creek Gap to Bly Gap, are road-less except for a usually very rough road to Blue Ridge Gap. There is no road access to Bly Gap. If hiking to or from Bly Gap, there is road access at Deep Gap, North Carolina, or at Dicks Creek Gap in Georgia.

Water availability/purification

Refer to a guide book for specific locations and to this web-site’s listing of Water Sources and Availability for recent water availability information. The longest section generally without water is between Hawk Mountain shelter and Justice Creek, about 6.3 miles, though drought conditions lengthen the distance considerably.

All water should be purified before using. Some common methods are Aquamira, Sawyer Filters, various filter pumps and the Steripen.

Another longer range indicator of water supply can be found at a site that monitors A.T. rainfall over a three month period using NASA’s precipitation stations along the AT.

Bear Canisters

There is a USFS requirement to use a rigid bear canister if overnighting between Jarrard Gap and Neel Gap, between March 1 and June 1 each year. Northbound there is camping at Lance Creek and Jarrard Gap. Southbound there is camping before reaching Neel Gap. See www.fs.usda/detail/conf/news-events for additional information.

Permits/ranger notifications

Permits to hike and camp, and ranger notifications are not required in Georgia nor North Carolina south of GSMNP. Family or friends should know your plans and expected completion date. This will provide an emergency notification if you are delayed or injured.

Regulations concerning commercial uses of the Appalachian Trail are available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/conf/passes-permits/event-commercial.

Thru-hikers are encouraged to pre-register your start at http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/explore-the-trail/thru-hiking/voluntary-thru-hiker-registration.

Section hikers and groups are encouraged to pre-register their hikes at https://www.atcamp.org

Getting to Springer Mountain or the Approach Trail at Amicalola State Park

For information about directions, parking and shuttle options, go to GATC's reference page.

Camping on the trail in Georgia

Refer to the guide books for locations. There is camping at all of the shelters or you may camp at one of the many established campsites along the trail or stay in one of the shelters. Learn about and follow Leave No Trace principles and use areas already hardened by use. If you have a fire, please use existing fire rings and be sure your fire is dead out before leaving the area. Be acquainted with no-fire zones such as on Blood Mountain. Refer to the Chattahoochee National Forest website for news and information about fire restrictions that may be in effect.

Food protection

Most shelters in Georgia have cable systems to assist in hanging food out of the reach of animals, the cable systems will be phased out in favor of bear proof steel boxes. The Hawk Mountain tenting area has bear proof steel boxes as does the Hawk Mountain Shelter. In other camping locations hang your food bag so that it is at least 10 feet off the ground and 6 feet away from the tree trunk. Also note the bear canister requirement discussed elsewhere and at the Chattahoochee National Forest news and information website.

Day hiking or slack packing the Georgia AT

The two terms mean the same thing. Basically, you will hike a section and leave the trail at the end of the day. Unless you are going to hike and return to your starting point, this will require a minimum of two vehicles or coordination with a shuttle service. Shuttle services are discussed elsewhere (see above).

Multi-day backpack of the AT in Georgia or section hike of GA

As with slack packing, multiple cars or a shuttle service is required.

Hotels, Motels, State Parks

Refer to the guide books for information about lodging in towns and near the trail heads. Besides Amicalola SP, there are two state parks near the trail in Georgia. They are Vogel SP and Unicoi SP. Note that they are off trail. Go to the Georgia State Parks website for more information.

Trail head parking

The largest parking lots are on paved roads i.e. Woody Gap, Neel Gap (at Byron Reese trail head), Hog Pen Gap. Unicoi Gap and Dicks Creek Gap. Parking is more limited at trail crossings on Forest Service roads. In general there has been little vandalism in Georgia. Do not leave valuables in your vehicle or make sure they are hidden. There is a 14 day limit on parking at the Springer Mountain parking lot.

Section hiking the AT in Georgia

Due to many requests, we have laid out a sample hiking schedule for hiking the Georgia section of the AT.

Day 0 – Approach Trail to Springer Mountain 8.8 miles

Day 1 - Springer to Hawk Mountain campsites or shelter 7.9 miles

Day 2 - Hawk to Gooch Mountain shelter 7.7 miles

Day 3 - Gooch to Woods Hole shelter 12.3 miles

Day 4 - Woods Hole to Low Gap shelter 15.0 miles

Day 5 - Low Gap to Blue Mountain shelter 7.3 miles

Day 6 - Blue Mountain to Tray Mountain shelter 8.1 miles

Day 7 - Tray Mountain to Plum Orchard shelter 15.5 miles

Day 8 - Plum Orchard to Bly Gap 4.5 miles

Climate on the Georgia section of the AT

The following weather summary is provided by the USDA Forest Service for the Georgia mountains:

Temperature - The area experiences all four seasons. Summers typically consist of lengthy spells of warm and humid weather. Average afternoon high temperatures are in the lower 80s. Readings of 90 or higher can be expected on 15 to 25 days. Overnight lows are usually in the 60s.

Temperatures during winter months are more variable. Oftentimes, stretches of relatively mild weather will alternate with cold snaps. Winter high temperatures average in the 40s, with lows averaging in the 20s. Lows of 32 degrees or lower can be expected on 90 to 110 days each year.

Spring and autumn seasons are characterized by much variability from day to day and from year to year. The average dates of the first freeze in the autumn are in October. The average dates of the last freeze in the spring are in April.

Precipitation - Annual rainfall amounts average over 60 inches, with measurable amounts of rain typically recorded on around 140 days each year. Snow falls on a average of 5 days each year, producing average seasonal total snowfall of about 4 to 6 inches.

Averaging over many years, the driest months are September and October while the wettest month is March. Thunderstorms are common in the spring and summer months. In a typical year, thunder will be heard on 50 to 60 days.

Current or near term weather forecasts

These sites show current weather conditions at each shelter, AT Weather and sophiaknows.com.

Forest Service road conditions

USFS road conditions vary seasonally and by the amount of rain fall. The roads going into Springer Mountain are heavily used and involve long stretches of gravel road, To check on road conditions contact the Forest Service at 706-754-6221 or visit the Chattahoochee National Forest website.

Hostels

There are many hostels and other off-trail accomodations offered. Hostels offer services to hikers such as overnight lodging, shuttles between trail heads and rides to town for resupply. The guide books describe the services offered, location and phone numbers.

Georgia thru-hiker badge

If you have hiked all of the AT in Georgia, either as a thru hike or in sections, go to https://georgia-atclub.org/gatc-store to purchase your patch to commemorate your accomplishment.

Join The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club

Go to https://georgia-atclub.org/join-gatc.