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mostlyfreebird
03-15-2017, 23:34
Hey all... about to leave for my hike on April 3rd. I haven't really heard much feedback about doing the 8 mile approach trail to Springer, or skipping it. What do you think? What worked for you, what are you planning on doing?

Just wondering why some people choose to do it or not. Thanks! Happy hiking

Uncle Joe
03-15-2017, 23:39
If you want a good taste of the climbing that lies ahead on the trail you'll get it on the approach. The next 8 miles from Springer are more easy going up to Hightower Gap. I started my section hike at Springer. I was a complete newbie. I later came back to hike the Approach. I was glad I didn't hike it when I first started but frankly it's no harder than what lies ahead it's just first.

Lone Wolf
03-15-2017, 23:41
no. skip it

MuddyWaters
03-15-2017, 23:53
I say have the best of both worlds....

Hike 1/2 of the approach trail
Dilema solved

Your welcome.

rafe
03-16-2017, 00:03
Ah here we go again.

Thru-hiking is kinda dumb to begin with. So what's another eight miles of brain-deadness on top of the other two thousand? YOLO. Isn't that what the kids say?

Lone Wolf
03-16-2017, 00:06
Ah here we go again.

Thru-hiking is kinda dumb to begin with. So what's another eight miles of brain-deadness on top of the other two thousand? YOLO. Isn't that what the kids say?

if you're gonna hike your first 9 miles of a 2200 mile walk on a blue- blazed trail then why not walk every blue-blazed trail between ga. and me. ?

Wooobie
03-16-2017, 00:15
no dont do it

Slo-go'en
03-16-2017, 00:50
if you're gonna hike your first 9 miles of a 2200 mile walk on a blue- blazed trail then why not walk every blue-blazed trail between ga. and me. ?

Well, you do hike a lot of blue blaze trails just getting to and from shelters or water sources and those probably add up to quite a few extra miles by the time your done.

Last time I was down there I stayed at the lodge so hiked the access trail to the top of Springer and found it to be an nice warm up. It's not very hard mostly a gradual up. If your staying at the Hiker Hostel and have a choice to do the approch or the FS42 parking lot, most everyone picks the parking lot.

hyperhiker
03-16-2017, 00:53
These debates happens all the time with everyone giving their opinion. Just do either and don't sweat it.

llittle_llama
03-16-2017, 02:37
I'm doing it for several reasons. Seems another 8 miles is nothing really lol.

Oventoasted
03-16-2017, 06:35
So if you do the approach trail you cone up onto Springer mountian from the south and hike on towards the rest of the AT. If you decide to start at springer you get to the parking lot which is a mile i to the AT already. So you walk a mile up to Springer and then a mile back down to the parking lot to start the hike.

i wanted to do the approach trail anyway when i started but finding out i would have had to walk a mile up to springer and backtrack back down wasnt my idea of starting the AT for me.

rafe
03-16-2017, 07:50
if you're gonna hike your first 9 miles of a 2200 mile walk on a blue- blazed trail then why not walk every blue-blazed trail between ga. and me. ?


I dunno, it seems somehow more real than being driven almost to the summit of the first mountain and starting a NOBO hike walking SOBO.

But that's just rationalizing. Truth of the matter is it was already late in the day, I'd just been dropped off in Gainesville after leaving Boston at 5 AM, and hailed the first cab that came by. If I even knew about the USFS-42 option, it seemed altogether too complicated to explain to the cabbie. Whereas the state park, he knew.

Anyway -- just wondering, when did you turn into a purist?

full conditions
03-16-2017, 08:44
Depends on whether you enjoy hiking or not. If not, skip it.

gatorcoach
03-16-2017, 09:13
(I am not a thru-hiker, let's get that out of the way upfront).

But, I would think it depends on the person. I am slowly making my up the AT (South to North). I will readily admit to being OCD as far as it relates to completing something. I needed to start at the very beginning of the approach trail at the bottom of the Falls and walk the miles in between there and Maine (hopefully) all South to North. If anyone asks why, I can't really explain it. I just need to do it that way. My wife, who has been hiking with me, could walk it North to South, skip parts, take short-cuts, dodge mountains, and it wouldn't cost her a moments thought (and she can out hike me on the trail, so that is not the problem). Despite this, I think we both would agree that we enjoy the hiking the same, and our "craziness" works for us.

Something about a defined starting point and ended point make it enjoyable for me.

bigcranky
03-16-2017, 09:14
I've done it both ways, so I feel like I can comment.

Do the approach trail. It's only 8.8 miles added to a 2200 mile hike - you'll add hundreds of miles of blue blazing during your hike anyway. And I found something special about hiking up out of the woods and seeing the first white blaze, more so than hiking south on the AT for a mile to the summit then starting north.

Sandy of PA
03-16-2017, 10:06
The waterfall is really pretty, the arch gives the sense of a real starting point, the visitor center has people to take your picture for you if you are solo, you get a number to know how many are ahead of you, you can weigh your pack, why not hike the approach?

Ethesis
03-16-2017, 10:10
I say have the best of both worlds....

Hike 1/2 of the approach trail
Dilema solved

Your welcome.

How?

I've hiked the approach trail. Where can you get to just half of it?

Ender
03-16-2017, 10:14
It doesn't matter either way, but I see no reason not to do it. Just more time you get to spend in the woods. :) That said, if you don't want to do it, no worries there either.

Rain Man
03-16-2017, 10:22
While I agree with BigCranky (and also have done it both ways myself), I also feel you almost might as well ask us what color socks to wear. It's not for us to answer such questions for you. Having said that, those who have done it both ways have both experiences to share, ... and almost universally tell you it's truly up to you. Keep in mind, at Springer you have a choice; at Katahdin you don't.


I've done it both ways, so I feel like I can comment.

Do the approach trail. It's only 8.8 miles added to a 2200 mile hike - you'll add hundreds of miles of blue blazing during your hike anyway. ...

full conditions
03-16-2017, 11:39
A slightly more detailed and nuanced response than my first: This question comes up on this forum fairly often and with enough regularity that it sometimes appears to trolling because for some strange reason people have absurdly strong opinions about a fairly trivial question. But, just in case its legit, let me add that I come from a perspective of two through hikes and a section hike completion and am about a third of the way through my second section hike. I should also add that I really like hiking. I would rather be walking thru the woods than just about anything else. So why would I not jump at the chance to add nine miles to any adventure? I also realize that for many aspiring thru hikers, hiking is not a priority, some are in it for the athletic challenge, a sense of accomplishment, the social scene, camping, etc... . For those folks, adding another day to their itinerary on a trail that isn't even the AT seems silly and unnecessary. You'll meet a bunch of different folks on the trail and they all have their own reasons for being there and if you're there because you enjoy walking then I give my wholehearted endorsement to the approach trail - otherwise, skip it - you won't miss anything life-changing.

PennyPincher
03-16-2017, 11:47
I asked this same question myself about a month ago. I'm only doing a section hike this year. 30 days as far as I can go. IF I get to the hostel early enough in the day I MAY hike the 8 miles approach trail, spend my planned evening at the hostel and then "start" my 30 days the next morning by hiking the less than 1 mile to the summit and and then heading north. If I don't have time the day before to do the whole 8 mile approach trail I may just "wander about" a bit. I have a limited number of days to hike and prefer to use my time on the actual AT. When my husband and I do our thru we will likely do the approach trail. However, the approach trail IS NOT part of the AT. Some will suggest that if you are willing to skip it then you may just skip other parts of the AT. But again, it's NOT part of the AT. Do it or don't do it. Completely up to you.

ShelterLeopard
03-16-2017, 12:18
Do whatever floats your boat. I skipped it because I started my (intended) thru on a snowy as heck and icy day, and the awesome guy who dropped us off at Springer offered to take us to the summit on the dirt road. Turned out that a prius is no match for the icy mud, so we ended up getting out halfway and doing our own version of an approach trail. I didn't feel like I missed out on the approach trail.

Krippledprophet
03-16-2017, 18:25
I don't see the point of skipping it.

Heck I'm going south bound in a couple months going for broke hiking over katahdin via helon Taylor to descend the hunt trail. No pack left at katahdin stream. Legging full supplies over the knifes edge.

I just think it is kind of silly to question the approach I mean it's 4 hours or less

Grampie
03-17-2017, 16:45
During my thru I choose to hike the approach trail. I started up around 8:00. It was a nice feeling to finally start after passing through the arch at Amicalola state park.
After walking for a hour and a half I took a break at Frosty Mountain. Hear I was. A 65 year old man walking in the Georgia woods alone, Just starting my great adventure and already tired and aching. Thoughts of quitting were on my mind, but I made a promise to stay with it for at least a week. I thought of that often especially when I had finished and stood at the sign on Katahdin and how glad I was that I had hiked the approach trail, and didn't go back home.

KDogg
03-17-2017, 20:28
I hiked the approach trail and stayed at Springer Mountain Shelter the first night. It was a beautiful hike and I liked starting from Springer in the morning. This really is a personal choice though and it is your first decision based on the "Hike Your Own Hike" philosophy. Take your pick and don't worry about explaining yourself.

Sarcasm the elf
03-17-2017, 21:09
Personal preference. I enjoyed the approach trail myself.

More importantly, is one logistically easier for you than the other? I got dropped off at Amicolola primarily so that my buddy's wife didn't have to drive up the forest service road to Springer.

shelb
03-17-2017, 22:30
Up to you... but I figured what is another 8 miles out of over 2,000??? No biggie! Plus, it put me in the mindset. (However, I do understand that some might want to do not a mile more....lol).

AfterParty
03-17-2017, 23:49
I will do it going down not up!

blw2
03-18-2017, 07:01
I haven't done either yet....
logically either way makes perfectly great sense, but the way my brain works, everything needs a beginning, just as much as it needs an end.
Unless you have a helicopter, you can' really begin at the "official" beginning, so the logical beginning then becomes the only choice
....and in my thinking the arch and welcome center seems to define it......backtracking just doesn't make sense....

Lone Wolf
03-18-2017, 07:50
back in 86 Robie Hensley parachuted on Springer. trail name Jumpstart

eggymane
03-18-2017, 08:11
I always skip the falls, there's a wonderful starting point on top of the falls. Starting at Springer and backtracking back down sounds ridiculous to me, so I've always hiked half the approach.

Christoph
03-18-2017, 09:41
I did the 600+ stairs on my first thru attempt. Glad I did! Those stairs were a PITA but well worth what little view I had during a tornado warning with lightning and thunder all around. Maybe that part wasn't such a great idea but.... I enjoyed the trail. It was a great starting point for my hike and I'll do it again this year on my 2nd thru attempt. I wanted to start at the infamous arch I've always seen on youtube and forums and wanted to enjoy the falls. What a great start to my trek. I enjoyed it, it's only 8 or so miles to Springer.

FreeGoldRush
03-18-2017, 09:48
Much of the approach trail was the Appalachian trail when the starting point was at Mt. Oglethorpe. So some of the most famous AT thru hikes went over part of what is today the approach trail. Does anyone know if the original first 50 miles of trail went through Amicalola Falls?

So that is reason enough to hike it. If they were to redefine the start of the trail as being Three Forks would you then drive to Three Forks and start there? The definition of the starting point seems a bit abstract to me. When you hike in that area it sure feels like the arch at the state park is the start of the trail.

Keep in mind I have not attempted my thru hike yet, so maybe I'll feel differently when it's time to start.

rafe
03-18-2017, 10:13
Seems odd to fret over the extra miles.

If you hike the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail, there's no "credit" for getting to the top of Monadnock in the first place or hiking down Sunapee when you're done. Not fair. Waste of time. ;)

DavidNH
03-18-2017, 13:14
I've never understood this debate. You are about to embark on a 2200 mile hike, and here you are already fussing about an 8-mile blue blazed approach trail? seriously? I bet these are the folks who slack pack southward from peaks just so they don't have to climb it. Or hitch ahead. Or just can't tough it out all the way.

Here is how the ATC could solve this problem and even improve the thru-hike experience. Start (or end depending on NB or SB) the AT at the Amicoloa Falls Visitor Center.. at the big stone arch!!

Deadeye
03-18-2017, 15:40
I haven't done either yet....
logically either way makes perfectly great sense, but the way my brain works, everything needs a beginning, just as much as it needs an end.
Unless you have a helicopter, you can' really begin at the "official" beginning, so the logical beginning then becomes the only choice
....and in my thinking the arch and welcome center seems to define it......backtracking just doesn't make sense....

To add my two cents to the absurd "where do I start" debate: IMHO, the arch is not a logical beginning, it's an emotional beginning. A ride up the Forest Service road to within 1 mile of the start of the AT is the logical choice. Just ask Spock - he's whispering in my ear right now.

George
03-19-2017, 08:03
like the rest of the trail, do just enough of it to be able to talk about how tough it was and how fast you did it - keep that hitching thumb in good shape!!

Uncle Cranky
03-19-2017, 13:56
If you're into A.T. history the Approach Trail, starting from the top of the falls, is the surviving remnant of the original Old AT route from 1930 to 1958 between Mt. Oglethorpe and Springer Mt. If you're not an A.T. purist, another remnant of the original 1930 Old AT route is the section of the Benton MacKaye Trail from the summit of Springer Mt. to Big Stamp Gap, where the Old AT route turned east and followed FS-42 to Gooch Gap, until the A.T. was relocated to it's current route in 1977.

Xycon
03-20-2017, 23:17
I probably will not be doing the approach, but that's just me.

MuddyWaters
03-20-2017, 23:25
FWIW, the falls are the highlight of GA really.
Catch them after day of heavy rain

CrumbSnatcher
03-20-2017, 23:28
how many South bounders do you think skip the Approach Trail? :)

CrumbSnatcher
03-20-2017, 23:56
on my first thru-hike i would probably just do the approach trail with no regrets. if you go to the gym and get a good work out in, you're not going to regret it afterwards. But if you're on a diet and eat a snickers bar,well. :) Either way enjoy your hike! and don't let anyone put their hands inside your Gorp bag!

QiWiz
03-27-2017, 09:13
I was happy I did the approach trail. Just seemed like the proper way to start, rather than backtrack from a forest road. Just my HO, YMMV, HYOH . . .

full conditions
03-27-2017, 09:52
FYI - you can minimize the backtracking by taking the Benton MacKaye Trail to the summit rather than the AT. It connects to the AT just a couple of tenths of a mile from the top. Or, conversely you could drive to Nimblewell Gap and hike the last bit of the approach trail. All of this presupposes that you're just not that in to walking and wish to minimize that aspect of your trip.

Dogwood
03-27-2017, 14:09
Umpteen, oodles, mega opined threads on whether or not to hike the Approach Tr already existing. Enjoy the day perusing the comments. There is no universal consensus. This is hiking. You get to - HAVE TO - make your own decisions based on you and your hike.

JC13
03-27-2017, 14:18
If I were going to thru hike I would probably skip it like I did last year on our first section. The logic being if I were going to thru, I would be starting at the Pinhoti and going to Katahdin so I would be missing a bit of the trail unless I backtracked anyway. If I were starting over sectioning or skipping the Pinhoti, I would probably do the Approach as my dad was pretty disgruntled having to drive his new vehicle on the FS road to drop us and my kids off at our van.

RWHowe56
03-27-2017, 16:31
If you're sure of your goal to make the trek, you really can't beat the hospitality at the Len Foote Hike Inn, part of the Amicalola State Park, and just a little divergence from the Approach Trail and no harder. It'll add a couple of miles to your day, but they serve ice tea, lemonade and snacks to day and thru-hikers alike IF you don't show up when it's time for them to serve their paying guests. Give them a shout to find if anything's changed about time to arrive. It'll be a nice rest and you'll be rejuvenated for the rest of the trip to Springer and the first night out.

somers515
03-27-2017, 20:32
There is someone on whiteblaze that has a funny signature line that this debate reminds me of.

"Mt. Katahdin would be a lot quicker to climb if its darn access trail didn't start all the way down in Georgia"

Now if I only could find out who first came up with that line!

RWHowe56
03-27-2017, 21:19
Love it! Would love to claim it as my own. Wouldn't you?

BuckeyeBill
03-27-2017, 22:42
There is someone on whiteblaze that has a funny signature line that this debate reminds me of.

"Mt. Katahdin would be a lot quicker to climb if its darn access trail didn't start all the way down in Georgia"

Now if I only could find out who first came up with that line!

You can check here (https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/59836-Alternatives-to-HYOH?p=987512&viewfull=1)

Let me know if this works.

Dex
03-27-2017, 23:34
I have read all the questions about, should I or not. Hike your own Hike. My wife and I decided to do it just because in our minds, our adventure stats at the Approach trail

Sarcasm the elf
03-28-2017, 00:08
https://i.imgflip.com/1m80n6.jpg (https://imgflip.com/i/1m80n6)via Imgflip Meme Generator (https://imgflip.com/memegenerator)

:D

Spencer828
04-03-2017, 10:52
I didn't do it. Everyone I have talked to on the trail this year said they wish they would have skipped it.

Lyle
04-03-2017, 12:40
Short answer, yes, it's a pleasant hike.

Dogwood
04-03-2017, 13:05
...I haven't really heard much feedback about doing the 8 mile approach trail to Springer, or skipping it. What do you think? What worked for you, what are you planning on doing?

Just wondering why some people choose to do it or not. Thanks! Happy hiking


LOLLOLLOLOL.......

Obviously hasn't Googled it or did a search on WB for the landfill high heap of opining on it

Last Call
04-03-2017, 13:51
The first A.T. shelter is right behind the visitor center, Max Epperson shelter....for the life of me I don't understand why one would want to skip the 1st 8 miles of the A.T. and be driven up the mountain to Springer.....

Sarcasm the elf
04-03-2017, 13:58
The first A.T. shelter is right behind the visitor center, Max Epperson shelter....for the life of me I don't understand why one would want to skip the 1st 8 miles of the A.T. and be driven up the mountain to Springer.....

Because a lot of first time backpackers who aren't used to climbing hillls get intimidated by it and then spread rumors that it is much harder than it is.

dudeijuststarted
04-03-2017, 14:03
i did probably the most unorthodox alternative thru ever done on the AT, and the approach trail was the last piece of it. i was pleasantly surprised by it and think the ascent of the falls is awesome. yeah the climb will be hard work for a beginner but the campsite on springer mountain is pretty nice and if you take your time, drink plenty of water, you'll have a great first day. another advantage is there will be shuttles in and around the springer parking lot the next morning should you discover you need to make a gear adjustment, treat some blisters, whatever. i recommend approach trail. whatever you choose, have a blast, that is a beautiful section of trail.

Mags
04-03-2017, 16:05
I enjoyed the Approach Trail when I did the BMT.

My simple advice? Do what is easiest for the person nice enough to give you a ride. When Idid the AT, the person who gave me a ride wanted to hike the ~1 mile to Springer.

When I did the BMT, it was easier to drop me off at the approach trail.

The trail only took me ~three hours for what it is worth. A steady, but not extraordinary, pace.

Lone Wolf
04-03-2017, 17:50
The first A.T. shelter is right behind the visitor center, Max Epperson shelter....for the life of me I don't understand why one would want to skip the 1st 8 miles of the A.T. and be driven up the mountain to Springer.....

it's not the AT

PennyPincher
04-03-2017, 17:53
The first A.T. shelter is right behind the visitor center, Max Epperson shelter....for the life of me I don't understand why one would want to skip the 1st 8 miles of the A.T. and be driven up the mountain to Springer.....

Because it's NOT part of the AT.

Riocielo
04-03-2017, 18:01
If you decide not to do the approach trail, do go back to the falls sometime when you can really enjoy them, they are magnificent.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Last Call
04-03-2017, 18:09
The nice ranger lady told me the A.T. begins at the arch in front of the visitors center, So I'm pretty sure that makes it official. Who am I to question the ranger there in charge?

Lone Wolf
04-03-2017, 18:39
the ranger obviously doesn't know much about the AT

rafe
04-03-2017, 19:19
Because it's NOT part of the AT.

By the same logic, most shelters and campsites aren't either. Ie. most of them are on blue blazes and none of them need to be visited in order earn 2000-miler status. Even a purist will end up walking many dozens of miles of blue blazes, bushwhacks and road walks. It's inevitable.

Always gets the natives riled up, chatting about it. It's just not a big deal either way. HYOH and all that. ;)

LIhikers
04-03-2017, 22:10
Because it's NOT part of the AT.
OK, it's not part of the AT, I get that.
But here you are, setting off on a 2200 mile hike and you'll be walking lots of places that aren't part of the AT, so why skip those 8 miles just because they are at the beginning of the journey?

Sarcasm the elf
04-03-2017, 22:14
If you don't start from Mt. Oglethorpe, then you're not really doing the whole trail. ;)

Nhan
04-17-2017, 22:59
Make the choice that you will regret the least. If you're gonna count every mile then the trail becomes more of a chore than an experience, most people won't care about the certificate that you get when you finish, its about the memories you're gonna take with you. By choosing to skip it you you're opting out of potential memory. my two cents.

Sorry for dredging this thread up, but I had something to say.

MuddyWaters
04-18-2017, 00:07
most people won't care about the certificate that you get when you finish


Understatement

Singto
04-18-2017, 08:21
The Appalachian Trail starts on Springer, not at Amicalola Falls Park. Pretty simple.

rafe
04-18-2017, 08:37
The Appalachian Trail starts on Springer, not at Amicalola Falls Park. Pretty simple.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” or “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

- attributed to Albert Einstein

capehiker
04-18-2017, 09:13
I'm thru hiking now (currently enjoying a zero). After day 1, nobody has ever asked if you've hiked the approach trail or not. There seems to be this idea that you have to hike it to be legit. Nobody cares on the trail as there's other things to worry about like avoiding Norovirus and hitching into town. However, if you genuinely want to see the falls and experience the build-up to Springer Mountain, then have a blast doing it.

FreeGoldRush
04-18-2017, 09:53
The Appalachian Trail starts on Springer, not at Amicalola Falls Park. Pretty simple.

The strong opinion people sometimes have over arbitrary definitions can be amazing. This goes beyond the AT. Why let someone else so easily define your experience?