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Help Preserve the AT in Georgia

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As a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Charitable Organization, the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club can accept your financial donation in any amount. Donations of $100 or more may be designated to one or more of the following specific purposes:

  • General Donation
  • Ridgerunner Program
  • Trail Ambassador Program
  • Outreach Programs
  • Conservation
  • Activities
  • Trail Maintenance/Repairs

Donated amounts of less than $100 will be considered a general donation. Click here to make a donation.

Sport your support when you have a Georgia AT License Plate!GATCNewPlate

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) receives $10 annually for each Georgia specialty A.T. plate purchased or renewed. Since the plate became available in 2013, Georgia license plate holders have raised almost $100,000 for ATC.

Apply for Your Georgia A.T. Plate

Apply for your plate by visiting your local Tax Commissioner’s tag office, or by choosing the “Appalachian Trail Conservancy of Georgia” specialty plate when you renew your registration online. In addition to the regular vehicle registration fees, a standard, numerical A.T. license plate costs $35. There is also a one-time manufacturing fee of $25 when you first purchase your tag.

Georgia A.T. License Plate Grant Program

Each year, the ATC uses funds from the sale of Georgia A.T. license plates to provide grants to organizations and individuals who are working to help fulfill the ATC’s mission within the state of Georgia. Since 2014, $62,195 has been awarded to grant recipients working on a wide variety of A.T.-related projects. Click here for a year-by-year summary of previous grantees and projects that received funding.

Give to the Appalachian Trail in Georgia when you shop onlineAmazon Gives

While the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club does not endorse Amazon, we appreciate their support through the Amazon Smile program. If you shop there please consider using this link. Through this program, the Club will receive a small portion of the proceeds of your shopping. Click here to shop at Amazon and help provide funds to preserve and maintain the Appalachian Trail in Georgia at no additional expense to you.


Whitley Gap Privy Gets a New Roof

Whitley Gap Privy
Georgia Appalachian Trail Club members recently completed the installation of a new tin roof on the privy at Whitley Gap Shelter. Our club member volunteers are always working to improve the Trail and facilities so others can enjoy their experience on the Appalachian Trail. Thank the trail maintainers when you see them out there!


GATC has received a 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award from the Rollins School of Public Health and the Goizueta Business School of Emory University. The award ceremony was held in Atlanta at Emory on January 19. Accepting the award was GATC’s current director of Community Outreach Jay Dement. Also in attendMLK Awdance were three former Outreach directors Marianne Skeen, Frank Wright, and Tom Ottinger.

This award recognizes and celebrates people and organizations in greater Atlanta whose work exemplifies the legacy of Dr. King. Some of the criteria for the award specify that recipients should celebrate diversity and impel action in building a better future for all. Additionally, it looks for organizations that invest resources for the well being of all children, especially those who would otherwise miss out on the many opportunities a young life should offer.

The award cites GATC for conducting a youth outreach program over the last ten years that helps young people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in hiking and camping on National Forest lands. The program focuses both on children in areas of concentrated poverty in the metro Atlanta area and on youth in rural north Georgia counties through which the Appalachian Trail passes. Multi-day backpack trips are arranged for the metro Atlanta kids to build their self-reliance and give them a more immersive experience in the outdoors.

The award citation noted that over 25 GATC volunteers have been involved with these outreach activities. GATC thanks all of you who have participated and were instrumental in the club’s receiving this prestigious award. The Club also encourages any other members who are interested to join in this worthwhile outreach effort.

Presidential Ponderings

Jay DJuly 2019

As I write this, it is HOT!  The weather forecasts mid-nineties for the next 10 days. I wonder if that foretells a long hot summer.  My body isn’t built for that kind of heat, but I will not stop hiking.  I try to remember the hot days in winter as an offset!

We made it through another thru-hiker season and I think we did a great job.  There were five Ridgerunners patrolling three shelters, the visitor center and the trail, along with a corps of our Trail Ambassadors.  A special shout-out to Bill Bryant for stepping in at the last minute as a Ridgerunner, when one unexpectantly left.  Brent Binion did a great job of getting the Trail Ambassadors set up for the season. 

The good news is that for the first time in recent history there was no increase in hikers.  The starting numbers at the end of April showed the volume to be about 24 hikers behind last year.  As a result, the resource is less impacted.  Hopefully this trend will continue next year.


The subcommittees of the Protecting the Appalachian Trail Hiking Experience (PATHE) committee are getting fired up.  This is an exciting effort between GATC, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the Chattahoochee National Forest C-ONF, Amicalola Falls State Park (AFSP) and the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS).  This model works so well it I feel it should be copied up the trail.

The NEPA-Campsite Committee is categorizing our trail into five categories from wilderness to front country.  Through these definitions management prescriptions can be made.  We will follow a study by Dr. Jeff Marion for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (APPA) office where he is suggesting concentrated impacts, even in Wilderness Areas.

I have always felt that by concentrating impact, the rest of the area will remain pristine.  Trails keep users in one place so the rest of the woods remains untouched.  By locating campsites in areas that can handle the use, the rest of the woods will remain unspoiled.

The Stewardship Council of ATC has a campsite committee doing much the same work.  Our Bill Bryant will be heading this committee, as well as working on ours.  This is another example of how GATC is leading the pack.

The Food Storage Subcommittee is working on developing a plan and recommendation to C-ONF.  I have been in favor of a food storage requirement with containers approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC).  We have been lucky that we have avoided any serious incidents and hope to continue with that good fortune.  By requiring approved food storage containers such as a bear can or Ursack, we should be able to avoid bear encounters.  I am concerned when I hear of hikers saying their food bag “makes an excellent pillow”.  What they don’t consider is that food smells linger in the area and invite a visit days later, after the offender has left the area.

While the idea of being in a Wilderness precludes the idea of rules, I think visitors need some regulated guidance to create a more sustainable behavior.  Perhaps with a requirement, awareness will increase about campsites, fire rings, trash and trail etiquette.

The Public Affairs Subcommittee is discussing the idea of promoting Amicalola Falls
State Park (AFSP) as the “preferred” starting point of the Appalachian Trail, with the slogan “Start Smart at the Arch”.  This gives us an opportunity to continue presentations on low impact techniques to hikers.  Many hikers are well prepared but have never hiked or camped!  Many need our guidance.

Also, ATC wants hikers to register through  The benefit is that one could schedule a start on a slower day.  With their contact information ATC can follow up with a survey.

The best statistics are collected at Basecamp at AFSP, with names and start dates counted.  We know how many plan to start and actually do start, but only about 23% actually finish.  What we don’t know is where hikers fall out.  It would be especially interesting to see how many make it to Neel Gap and the border.   If we had Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips in the AT Tags, much information could be collected.  However, I suspect the cost would be prohibitive.

I am running the Education Subcommittee.  One of our charges is to bring a level of awareness to visitors to the Appalachian Trail.  One strategy includes these points; 1) target “overnight” campers, who actually represent a larger problem because they are very underprepared.  2) develop self-evaluation mechanisms where a person can determine, for themselves, their level of preparedness. 3) develop a social media presence (Facebook etc.).

These strategies would reach people researching their hike and would hopefully guide them to a more successful experience.

We also are working on the third annual Trail Skills Workshop to be held in October.  The principle objective is to share sustainable techniques for trail maintenance methods.

The 2 day Workshop will take place over a weekend in early October with camping available.  GATC members will have an opportunity to register early, before the public.  Dinner will be provided Saturday night.  This is an excellent opportunity to improve your trail skills and spend time with other club members.

Northern Boundary

Recently I signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ATC.  This document outlines our mutual responsibility for the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. ATC’s authority comes from APPA and flows through to GATC.  This is similar to the Volunteer Service Agreement (VSA) we have with C-ONF.

The previous MOU listed Bly Gap as our northern border, which is well into North Carolina.  This would require a VSA with the Nantahala National Forest to work that small section, which seems impracticable.

It also became apparent that the Boundary Tree, with a pipe indicating the border, is incorrect.  As Stewart Holt has discovered, the actual boundary is trail south of that tree.  He has an article on this discrepancy in this issue.

As the summer heats up, be sure to stay hydrated.  Please be safe in the woods if you are out for a hike or trail work on your section.  Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.  And…enjoy the trail!


Hawk Mountain Campsites

Check out the U.S. Forest Service Facebook post about the recent updates to the Hawk Mountain shelter and campsite area.  Should make things a lot easier for the upcoming thru-hiker season!