Fastest trek from NC border to Dicks Creek Gap with shuttle assistance? More...
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As a habitual slack packer, I have not had any trouble with GA's trails, but I don't want to be caught off guard on this one. My plan is to find a shuttle service that can drop me off as close to Bly Gap as possible for my hike to Dicks Creek Gap. I have read the Bly Gap may not be accessible. If this is still the case, would it be faster to hike from Deep Gap south, or do a round trip from Dicks Creek so I can finish that part of the trail in GA?
I also need to do the hike from Springer Mountain to Hightower Gap. After I finish these two sections, my GA trail section will be complete. In your opinion, will I need to catch a shuttle from Amicalola Lodge to Hightower and then hike back to my car? What has worked best for you, if you've done these sections.
Another guy and me just did Standing Indian (Kimsey Creek Trail to AT) to Dicks Creek Gap 3 weekends ago. This was recommended to me over the 2 alternatives you mentioned. The Saturday we chose to do this was pretty cold and windy and about 1+ inch of dry snow. I had my wife do the shuttling so we had that covered. Started at Kimsey Creek Trail right at daybreak at 7:20 AM and finished at Dick's Creek Gap at 3:00 PM. We fast packed and jogged a few easy sections. Since the net elevation change is mostly downhill, it is not especially difficult, especially once you get to the ridge above Deep Gap. It would have taken us 2+ hours longer to go the reverse direction.
I expect Ron Haven from Franklin could do the shuttling since that is right in his area.
Springer to Hightower is very easy. The reverse is not bad either and I'm sure you could hike down to Amicalola and do the whole thing in 1 day if you got an early start. I'm not sure who could get you to Hightower. Others here will know.
I'll tell you what I would do and then I'll tell you the quickest way.
I'd park at Dicks Creek and hike to Bly, turn around and spend the nite at Plumorchard shelter. Next day short hike to car.
I'd park at the Springer parking lot, hike S and tag Springer, turn around and hike N to Hawk shelter. At that point I'd decide if I wanted to hike down to Hightower and return or save that for the morning. Next day short hike back to car.
If you don't mind paying for a shuttle, and you want the quickest way to go, then this is what I'd do:
You can't drive to Bly, but Blue Ridge Gap gets you within 3 (or 4) miles of Bly. Park at Dicks creek, have shuttler take you to Blue Ridge Gap or to where the paved road ends if the fs road is too rutted to travel (probably the case). FS rd is a mile to the AT if you have to hike it. Hike 3 miles N to Bly, turn around and hike to Dicks. One day hike if that is what you want to do.
Park car at Hightower and meet shuttler. Have shuttler drive you to Springer parking lot. One day hike. Or you can do as you suggested and make a 2 day hike out of it by including the approach trail. Another alternative if you are feeling lucky if you are going to hike on a weekend mid March - mid April is to park at Springer and offer to pay for a ride to Hightower. I bet someone would do it for $20 (or free if they are going that way).
the FS road that goes towards Bly Gap is permanently locked and gated according to the sign on it. I tried to find the side trail marked on the map to hike to Bly, but gave up when I got tangled up in blackberry bushes. The road to Deep Gap is currently locked and may stay locked until the middle or end of next month. You can contact the Nantahala Ranger District for their schedule. If you just want to knock off that end of Georgia and have the time to do it I'd suggest parking at Dicks Creek Gap and getting shuttled to Blue Ridge Gap or as near as your shuttler can take you and then hike to Bly and then double back through Blue Ridge Gap to Dicks. About a 16 mile day.
Franklin's Budget Inn
At Deep Gap in NC there is an old trail that is one mile to Water Oak Gap and from there it is a little over 4 miles to Bly Gap. If this would be an option for you, pm me and I will give you the details.
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