The Appalachian Trail in Georgia extends 78.2 miles through the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, passing through five federally designated wilderness areas, a national recreation area, and a protected corridor.
The Trail follows the southernmost segment of the Blue Ridge chain of the Appalachian Mountains, reaching elevations above 4,000 feet at several locations. With 50 miles of connected, maintained side trails, hiking opportunities of challenge, variety, and breath-taking views abound.
The Trail's southern terminus, located on the summit of Springer Mountain, is marked with an Appalachian Trail plaque and white blaze. Forest Service Road 42 crosses the Appalachian Trail approximately one mile trail north, and provides vehicular access off of Double Head Gap Road in Gilmer County. Springer Mountain Summit is connected to the south by the 8.8 mile Springer Mountain Approach Trail, beginning behind the Visitors Center at Amicalola Falls State Park, of off Georgia State Highway 52. A detailed guide book with maps is available from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Book Store.
The Georgia section is very often the point where many who have the desire to thru-hike the trail begin their journey. It's also used by scouts, spring-breakers, section hikers, day hikers and a whole assortment of other individuals and groups. Because of this, it's also one of the most heavily traveled portions of the AT, especially in March and April. The ATC maintains a Thru-Hiker Registry to help you start your trek at the ideal time to find the experience you hope to have, minimize the impact on the environment and help make the Trail more sustainable for the future.
The volunteer trail maintainers of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club see many hikers who are unprepared for the journey they're about to embark on. In fact, about 25-30% who make the effort, sometimes at considerable expense, fail in the first thirty miles of the Trail because of the lack of adequate preparation or a good understanding of what it takes to complete a 2,190 mile walk. There are a lot of resources available to help you prepare, from books to websites. Your local outfitter may be able to help you, too.
A good understanding of Leave No Trace principles and how they apply to your experience is also a good tool to have. An excellent YouTube video series is available at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's website.
We want you to succeed in your hike, no matter the distance you plan. Prepare yourself well for Happy Hiking!
The A.T is marked with both signs and blazes, the latter being the most common. These 2” X 6” vertical white rectangles are painted on trees and sometimes, rocks. Similar sized blue blazes mark recognized and maintained side trails connecting with the AT. Two blazes marked one above the other alert hikers to a change in direction.
There are 12 shelters located close to the Georgia AT. These are intended for use by Appalachian Trail hikers on a first come first served basis.
Privies are near each shelter. With the exception of the stone cabin on Blood Mountain, spring water sources and food hanging cables are near the shelters.
Water sources, mostly springs, can be found along or near the trail at the lower elevations. Access to these is frequently marked with blue blazes. All water should be boiled, filtered or chemically treated before consumption.
Mountain hiking is a strenuous activity. Appalachian Trail hikers should anticipate that and be prepared for it. The Trail passes through a natural environment, the home of poisonous snakes and plants, stinging insects, and animals that enjoy eating hikers’ food as much as they do. Reasonable precaution should be taken. The AT also passes through public lands open for seasonal hunting. The encouraged precaution is the wearing of blaze orange during hunting season.
Management of the Trail
The Appalachian Trail in Georgia is managed, maintained, protected, and promoted by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, first entered into in 1930.