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tipcar
07-06-2017, 22:20
When you thru-hike do you have to hike the 8 miles At Amicalola Falls State Park to the trailhead of the AT to be considered a thru-hike? Or can you just go to the trailhead and start?

LDog
07-06-2017, 22:30
When you thru-hike do you have to hike the 8 miles At Amicalola Falls State Park to the trailhead of the AT to be considered a thru-hike? Or can you just go to the trailhead and start?

No, you don't have to use the approach trail to get to the southern terminus on Springer's summit for a thru hike to be official. It's beautiful, tough and a small percentage of the overall hike. I did it. Many get a shuttle to a parking lot near the summit, hike to the top, sign the register, hike back, then hike to the summit of Katahdin.

Here's a lot of great stuff on Thru hiking the AT http://appalachiantrail.org/home/explore-the-trail/thru-hiking

Good luck and have a ball

tipcar
07-06-2017, 22:44
I am looking forward to it. Thanks for the tip.

Uncle Joe
07-06-2017, 23:14
What LDog said. Remember the summit of Springer is .9 mi south of the parking lot so you'll want to hike that out-and-back returning to the parking lot then head north from there.

If you want some time to acclimate yourself to the trail, skip the Approach. It's ~8mi of climbing that's more like the rest of the trail, though.

tipcar
07-07-2017, 10:36
I don't mind the climbing. I hike here in the Smoky Mountains at least 3 times a week and in the past month hike almost 300 miles of it. I am going for the 900 mile club. It is the time that I don't want to waste.

soumodeler
07-07-2017, 10:45
The Approach Trail is one of those topics where 10 people will give you 11 different answers...

IMO, the approach is worth it because of the falls, although you can see those without hiking the approach trail.

The approach is no harder than the rest of the GA section, although a lot of people claim otherwise.

On a thru hike attempt, the day spent on the approach trail can easily be made up elsewhere, and will not affect your overall timeline.

Another thing to consider is it is easier to get to Amicalola Falls (where the approach trail starts) than it is to Springer. Shuttles cost less to Amicalola as well.

tipcar
07-07-2017, 16:06
I don't need a shuttle. I will be having someone to drop me off.

soumodeler
07-07-2017, 16:14
Access to Springer is by a forest service road. Most cars can make it, but lower ones will scrape or bottom out. Just FYI

blw2
07-07-2017, 16:55
sortof a sidetrack, but close to topic....
i was just looking at the map yesterday, and thinking about this question
Odd to me in a way, that they would "start" or "end" a trail where you can't get to it. backtracking just seems odd. Why not have the official end at the park, or at the forest service road?

No matter..... So, I was looking at Amicalola, and remembering a lot of youtube videos I've watch of folks starting the trail....they usually go up the stairs. But it looks like there is a trail, East Ridge Trail according to google map, that bypasses the stairs. I guess it also bypasses the view of the falls from the stairs, but still.... that seems more appealing to me personally that the stairs. I'd be there to walk in the woods, not do some cardio on a staircase!
Anyway, why do I not see folks referencing this trail?

soumodeler
07-07-2017, 17:01
There are several ways to bypass the stairs, the easiest of which is to drive to the top! :D

That being said, the East Ridge trail is quite steep (assuming I am remembering the right trail) in sections, and has no view of the falls.

Uncle Joe
07-07-2017, 17:45
East Ridge is very steep. It starts benign enough but pitches up. Keep in mind, you're essentially hiking up the same mountain the falls are on. That's the route I took when I did the approach. I had done the stairs before and had descended the East Ridge.

I agree that the Approach isn't any harder than other sections on the AT. When I first started hiking I started at the Springer lot and did some day hikes around it before deciding I wanted to section hike the AT in GA. I'm glad I didn't start with the Approach mainly because I was a novice hiker. I think new hikers starting out from Springer don't get that first big dose of GA hiking until after Hawk Mtn Shelter. That could be a good thing or a bad thing.

Dogwood
07-07-2017, 18:55
No, but it is mandatory to be considered as a thru-hiker you: 1) touch every white blaze going in your direction, 2) have at least one piece of cuben fiber gear 3) carry more water than required 4) consult WB before starting :D

RangerZ
07-07-2017, 19:15
No, but it is mandatory to be considered as a thru-hiker you: 1) touch every white blaze going in your direction, 2) have at least one piece of cuben fiber gear 3) carry more water than required 4) consult WB before starting :D

Guilty of 3/4 but I thought it was every white blaze in both directions. Thanks for reducing my future workload. :banana

Bansko
07-26-2017, 08:44
I started at the bottom, and it was cool because I got to weigh my pack and chat with ranger, who had thru-hiked the year before. Those steps were brutal though, since I was nowhere near peak shape yet.

tipcar
07-26-2017, 19:33
I have actually hiked up those stairs, I have seen the falls and I hiked all the way to Hot Springs, NC. I just didn't know if it was required of me to do it again and be considered a thru-hike.

Emerson Bigills
07-26-2017, 20:35
A family member dropped me off at Springer and I did the short back track to the top.

By the way, every NOBO I spoke with about the approach trail said it sucked and they wish they had not done it. Glad I skipped it. You will quickly learn thru-hikers walk a bunch of miles, but they do not want to hike any unnecessary miles.

MuddyWaters
07-26-2017, 20:44
When you thru-hike do you have to hike the 8 miles At Amicalola Falls State Park to the trailhead of the AT to be considered a thru-hike? Or can you just go to the trailhead and start?

You can do whatever you want, its YOUR thru hike.
The only person whose opinion matters is yours.

The approach trail is no different from any other southern AT. Its just the rude awakening for those that really didnt know what to expect, and envisioned themselves leisurely strolling their way down the AT. Happens soon enough on day 2 if you skip the approach...

Bansko
07-27-2017, 08:48
By the way, every NOBO I spoke with about the approach trail said it sucked and they wish they had not done it. Glad I skipped it. You will quickly learn thru-hikers walk a bunch of miles, but they do not want to hike any unnecessary miles.

Most of the NOBO's I ran into weren't at all upset about having done it. That said, it just doesn't matter. Start where you want, end where you want, skip what you want. Just enjoy your hike.

rafe
07-27-2017, 09:34
sortof a sidetrack, but close to topic....
i was just looking at the map yesterday, and thinking about this question
Odd to me in a way, that they would "start" or "end" a trail where you can't get to it. backtracking just seems odd. Why not have the official end at the park, or at the forest service road?

Out-of-the-way endpoints are the norm, not the exception. The other endpoint is the top of Katahdin. No road there either.

It took me three tries (three separate hikes) to find the small monument that marks the north end of the MA Mid-State trail. It did its best to elude me, as there's a robust network of local/secondary trails around there, eg. the Wapac Trail. The southern terminus is at the MA-RI state line, two or three miles from the nearest road access.

Vermont's Long Trail is the same; from the northern terminus at the Canadian border. It's several miles back through the woods to the nearest trailhead, and the trailhead is several miles to the nearest town. The southern terminus is also in the woods, a couple miles north of the town of North Adams, MA.

Ditto for the PCT, from what I've seen and heard, and probably CDT as well.

rafe
07-27-2017, 09:42
A family member dropped me off at Springer and I did the short back track to the top.

By the way, every NOBO I spoke with about the approach trail said it sucked and they wish they had not done it. Glad I skipped it. You will quickly learn thru-hikers walk a bunch of miles, but they do not want to hike any unnecessary miles.

I did it, no regrets at all. I just didn't know any better. Back then, the forest road wasn't much used. But I cheated a bit, without really meaning to. I was offered a ride to the campground, which is at the top of the falls. So that was my starting point that first day. I'd been on the road since leaving Boston at 5 AM that morning, so maybe wasn't thinking clearly. (Plane to Atlanta, MARTA to bus station, bus to Gainesville, cab to AFSP.)

Alligator
07-27-2017, 14:12
When you thru-hike do you have to hike the 8 miles At Amicalola Falls State Park to the trailhead of the AT to be considered a thru-hike? Or can you just go to the trailhead and start?You can start from wherever you like on the AT, which ranges between Katahdin and Springer Mountain. If you can't finish it in 12 months, you can finish it later and still be a 2000-miler. Enjoy your journey.

tipcar
08-23-2017, 14:00
Thanks for all the reply's.

Last Call
08-23-2017, 18:24
It has long been a tradition to start at the visitor center / Approach Trail; of course weighing your pack on the scales there and all that greatly embellishes the experience. After all, the very first AT shelter is just behind there. And if you're fortunate, you may even get to meet a thru-hiker hanging out there. Safe travels!

MtDoraDave
09-01-2017, 07:25
When I did that section, I did the stairs and the 8 miles.
If the day comes when I do a thru hike, will I do the approach trail again? Probably.
As for "saving time"... If I'm in a hurry, why am I walking? Yes, Thru-hiking is truly a hike your own hike activity, but for me, I want the photo of going through the arch at Amicalola to begin my journey and not "skipping" any of the trail between there and the finish.

shelb
09-02-2017, 23:12
I started at HF - only hiking to PennMar. After that, I went down and did SNP. From there I hiked north to NY. After that, I went from the approach trail to Clingmans. This year, I went from NJ/NY border to VT.

What I am saying is that you start where it works for you at that time!

Riocielo
09-03-2017, 14:25
IMO the falls are so stunning, they deserve to be seen when they are the focus, not the means to an end. But then we hiked the approach trail SOBO on our second section hike, so my perspective is different.


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