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BAontheTrail
06-03-2019, 18:20
I'm hiking the Georgia portion of the AT in late June and am wondering about alternative (stealth?) sites. I'm thinking it would be nice to have some options other than the campsite/shelters I see in books like AWOL's guide. If using LNT ethics, can I just camp off trail anywhere in the AT corridor?

Slo-go'en
06-03-2019, 18:52
Sort of. There are good places to camp and there are bad places to camp and there are places where it just isn't physically possible to camp. Locations noted in AWOL are the good places to camp and should be used rather then creating your own place to camp.

MuddyWaters
06-03-2019, 20:00
If there's a flat spot somebody's camped there before so don't worry about it. The thing is, there ain't that many flat spots.... You got to have faith that one's going to turn up... Without somebody already camped in it..... By the time you're ready to stop.

PennyPincher
06-03-2019, 20:56
there were tons of places to camp along the trail in GA on the AT other than at shelters.

Dogwood
06-03-2019, 21:22
there were tons of places to camp along the trail in GA on the AT other than at shelters.

Exactly! Learn to read a detailed topo map. Places to sleep are unlimited in GA. Very often just after or sometimes before a shelter are spots as natural shelter overflow areas. If you hang no need to find a flat spot. If you bivy less need for a large flat site. If you have a smaller footprint tent more opps. If fair weather is in the forecast maybe no need to put up a tent. Cowboying makes for easier set ups, break downs, and even more sites to sleep.

HooKooDooKu
06-03-2019, 21:45
You need to know the local camping rules because they vary in certain areas along the AT.

The most well known rule variance is that in the Smokies, you must camp at designated campsites/shelters along the AT. Stealth camping in GSMNP is illegal.

PennyPincher
06-03-2019, 21:56
You need to know the local camping rules because they vary in certain areas along the AT.

The most well known rule variance is that in the Smokies, you must camp at designated campsites/shelters along the AT. Stealth camping in GSMNP is illegal.

The OP specifically stated he would be hiking in GA.

FreeGoldRush
06-03-2019, 23:22
Of course you can. This works best when Hammock camping. Grab two liters of water (or more) an hour or two before you are ready to stop. Then keep your eyes open for a good spot while hiking. It's a great idea for extending your daily mileage when the shelter sites would otherwise make you stop too early or hike too late.

Red Sky
06-04-2019, 10:14
I found lots of good spots along the way in GA and NC. Guthooks and Awol both show the most heavily used locations, but there are many, many more.

TX Aggie
06-04-2019, 10:28
If you want to stealth camp along the AT, the best option, quite frankly, is a hammock. No need to worry about a flat spot or clearing the ground to keep your air pad from puncturing. You can pretty much hang anywhere along the green tunnel.

I havenít done Georgia, but Iíve hiked several places in the Mid-Atlantic, and as long as youíre not in top of a bald, the choices are near endless. And if solitude and staying clear of other hikers is your motivation, there simply is no better choice.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Dogwood
06-04-2019, 11:44
I found lots of good spots along the way in GA and NC. Guthooks and Awol both show the most heavily used locations, but there are many, many more.

And, by advising others to use these apps these locations receive further beat down usage. Plus, they are all private profiteers. For me, I'd rather support the trail financially through the NP system, trail clubs, Wilderness Management Areas, environmental protections for the AT corridor, SP's and the ATC than private profiteers. There would be no AT or PCT or CDT or JMT or,... if it wasn't for the efforts of groups like these that provide a wealth of often unappreciated trail excellence.

Starchild
06-04-2019, 12:25
And, by advising others to use these apps these locations receive further beat down usage. ....

This is part of LNT, don't make campsites, find them (aka the best campsites are found, not made). By advising someone to use already established campsites you are advising them not to make their own. That's a LNT win.

LittleRock
06-04-2019, 13:27
There are stealth sites everywhere in GA, probably more than anywhere else on the AT. Many of them are easily visible from the trail. You will have no trouble finding a place to camp.

scope
06-04-2019, 17:01
If you want to stealth camp along the AT, the best option, quite frankly, is a hammock...

Exactly correct. But I think we should drop the stealth as it infers going off trail to create a site.

Most of the sites listed are those that have water, so my assumption is that you're willing to carry water to the non-listed site. If that's the case, you'll find plenty of these spots along the way. Not really stealth because they are created by the hordes that start thru hikes every year, so its not like you're creating off-trail sites. Lot of them aren't too far from water and most have makeshift fire rings, though I sort of loathe seeing these sites chopped up to create firewood, so if we're talking LNT, that's my biggest concern. I go without a fire these days as I don't sit around much in camp (hammock). I'd say you can't go 2 miles without seeing a good flat site for a tent, and can't go a mile without seeing a cleared site that has been used for a tent, even if not all that flat.

But really, get a hammock and stop worrying about flat earth stuff.

BAontheTrail
06-05-2019, 18:18
Thanks for the feedback and discussion everyone! I enjoy learning new things from y'all and hearing your perspectives gives me things to ponder about my set-up and theories.


If there's a flat spot somebody's camped there before so don't worry about it. The thing is, there ain't that many flat spots.... You got to have faith that one's going to turn up... Without somebody already camped in it..... By the time you're ready to stop.

Brother, I believe!!


Exactly! Learn to read a detailed topo map. Places to sleep are unlimited in GA. Very often just after or sometimes before a shelter are spots as natural shelter overflow areas. If you hang no need to find a flat spot. If you bivy less need for a large flat site. If you have a smaller footprint tent more opps.

This is a great idea and a skill I would like to develop. My footprint it 84''x52'' which is likely BIG by today's standards. I'm 6'5'' so there weren't many options for tents, which I'll plan on using...for now...


The OP specifically stated he would be hiking in GA.

There's always someone who doesn't read/listen to the directions, haha!


I found lots of good spots along the way in GA and NC. Guthooks and Awol both show the most heavily used locations, but there are many, many more.

Glad to know there are others. More on apps/books below.


And, by advising others to use these apps these locations receive further beat down usage. Plus, they are all private profiteers. For me, I'd rather support the trail financially through the NP system, trail clubs, Wilderness Management Areas, environmental protections for the AT corridor, SP's and the ATC than private profiteers. There would be no AT or PCT or CDT or JMT or,... if it wasn't for the efforts of groups like these that provide a wealth of often unappreciated trail excellence.

BINGO! I could not agree more! I cannot get on board with paying for Guthook, even for the individual sections. The info it provides is probably amazing, but unless there's proof that the person profiting from apps like that is giving back to the trail, it's a no go for me. I should also say the AWOL guide i referenced in the OP is my father-in-laws, so I didn't pay for it but am gleaning info from it. Maybe I should have the same mind set about info from the private sector, regardless of book/app. I guess I'll just have to go old-school and actually talk to people =]


Exactly correct. But I think we should drop the stealth as it infers going off trail to create a site.

Most of the sites listed are those that have water, so my assumption is that you're willing to carry water to the non-listed site. If that's the case, you'll find plenty of these spots along the way. Not really stealth because they are created by the hordes that start thru hikes every year, so its not like you're creating off-trail sites. Lot of them aren't too far from water and most have makeshift fire rings, though I sort of loathe seeing these sites chopped up to create firewood, so if we're talking LNT, that's my biggest concern. I go without a fire these days as I don't sit around much in camp (hammock). I'd say you can't go 2 miles without seeing a good flat site for a tent, and can't go a mile without seeing a cleared site that has been used for a tent, even if not all that flat.

But really, get a hammock and stop worrying about flat earth stuff.

I am willing to carry water and dry-camp. I only make fire when car camping and don't like the idea of people chopping either. Hopefully, those that do build fire are using dead/downed wood, or is that against LNT?

That last comment made me chuckle. I see hammocking in my near future. Currently, I'm using the MSR thru-hiker mesh 2 under a Warbonnet Cloudburst tarp. I haven't used it in the backcountry yet, but love the idea of the tarp. I can only imagine getting out on the AT and seeing the wealth of opportunities to hang being very alluring.

BAontheTrail
06-05-2019, 18:33
BINGO! I could not agree more! I cannot get on board with paying for Guthook, even for the individual sections. The info it provides is probably amazing, but unless there's proof that the person profiting from apps like that is giving back to the trail, it's a no go for me. I should also say the AWOL guide i referenced in the OP is my father-in-laws, so I didn't pay for it but am gleaning info from it. Maybe I should have the same mind set about info from the private sector, regardless of book/app.

Just did a little research and Atlas Guides, maker of Guthook app, does give back a little. This is from their site:

"GIVING BACK: Pledge 1%

1% for good. Atlas Guides is committed to helping support our community, our world, and our environment. This is why weíve pledged to follow the 1-1-1 model. As a company, we donate at least 1% of our product, our time, and our profits to causes and non-profit organizations that help make a difference."

That amounts to $0.60 per $60 AT thru purchase, $0.30 per $30 PCT thru purchase, $0.15 per $15 JMT thru purchase, and $0.09 per $9 section purchases. Plus, 1% of their products and time (I wonder who is receiving the sections or thrus for FREE?!).

They could choose to not give anything back. What do y'all think about all this?

Slo-go'en
06-05-2019, 19:08
Just did a little research and Atlas Guides, maker of Guthook app, does give back a little. This is from their site:
They could choose to not give anything back. What do y'all think about all this?

I would say that's fair. It takes a whole lot of front end work to produce a guide like this and to keep it up to date. Once you buy it, you get up dates forever. The app store and Paypal take a cut too. I doubt he's getting rich doing this. It is a small niche market. I bet his hourly wage is pitiful.

Berserker
06-05-2019, 19:35
As others have stated there are a decent amount of established camp spots in GA. One thing that no one mentioned is that camping outside of an established spot might be a little more tricky in GA than elsewhere on the AT as there is a significant amount of posion ivy that grows as ground cover in GA. It's been a while since I've hiked GA, but I remember seeing lots of it along most of the AT through GA. So just be careful and make sure you can identify poison ivy as you don't want to get up in any of that.

Dogwood
06-05-2019, 23:31
This is part of LNT, don't make campsites, find them (aka the best campsites are found, not made). By advising someone to use already established campsites you are advising them not to make their own. That's a LNT win.

LNT Principles are guidelines that can be individually situationally applied. LNT Principles were never meant to be blindly followed.


I don't create a CS where I sleep. That can be a mistake as you say.;)

Exactly! Are you suggesting most ATers are 'finding' CS's? :confused: OR, is it more accurate to state ATers - humans - congregate at established CS's for their own comforts and conveniences irregardless of LNT Principles and for maintenance conveniences?
Truth be told established CS's... especially on the AT.... are not indicative of LNT Principles. It's just the best overall LNT advisable approach offered to the larger public. People not adhering to LNT Principles at established CS's negates sleeping at established CS's as a LNT approach. :rolleyes::cool::) What it does is concentrate the non LNT impacts to a higher degree to a smaller area because there are always LNT infractions occurring within larger and regular trail usage groups... particularly of somewhat dubious knowledge bases.

Where humans congregate in significant numbers over regular patterned periods is not a LNT situation...no matter how much we like to pat ourselves on the back to feel environmentally "good" about ourselves. IMHO, education, including spouting off LNT education, is not the answer! Applied knowledge, applied LNT Principles, within a situational contextual awareness of a larger ecological whole is the ultimate goal. AND, it begins with each of us acting responsible of a larger whole. Two on WB that do more for LNT without dogmatically ranting about it are Another Kevin and Tipi Walter because they are willing to avoid high use trails like the AT conscientious of their personal impacts.

FWIW, I don't require a non LNT picnic table, fire ring often disgusting with trash on the AT, bear cables, saw or axe, non LNT AT rodent trap/AT shelter, non LNT contaminated water, beaten down maintained single track with a white painted non LNT rectangular every 70 ft on avg, and unaturalized non LNT wildlife. These situations occur because it's where humans congregate often with more a camping rather than hiking approach to backpacking. It occurs because of a culture's desire to command and control the environment for humanity's comfort, convenience, and exploitation. It occurs within a society that has been engrained with the national self serving BELIEF of Manifest Destiny that now occurs globally. I don't require the socio-psychological safety net of sleeping or hiking with others en masse, a silny/DCF/etc "wall of separation" from the environment, or uber anal-yzed routine logistical conveniences over documented on so and so's highly touted self profiteering apps or guidebooks to behave in a LNT fashion either. Fundamentally at odds with LNT is the entrenched European based Abrahamic U.S. cultural notion humanity is separate and above the environment, NOT an integral part of it to which we belong. It leads to the cultural assumption the environment is something humanity owns, to be dominated, to be "developed" by humanity, and to be ruthlessly economically exploited. IMHO, coming full circle, it is because of these cultural tendencies, societal habits, and advise of apps we need LNT... BUT LNT IS STILL ONLY A BAND AID in this nation. It is a failed attempt overall at developing ecological awareness despite me acting as a LNT Educator. FWIW, I don't adhere to these beliefs! I hike with the mindset I'm part of Nature, the ecological system, but a strand in a greater interconnected web of life, AND with the idea I'm a light handed loving steward of Nature and the earth where my human behavior matters...hopefully and knowingly in a positive manner.

I spend on avg 8-9 hrs in camp. "In camp" I'm sleeping 95 % of those hrs. I backpack to hike, to move, to adventure, to explore, to live LNT nomadically, not to primarily camp, not spending more of any 24 hr period stopped or 'in camp' establishing camping roots/feathering a camping nest of comforts and conveniences with a Manifest Destiny mindset. When I do stop I mostly stealthily LNT solo cowboy, bivy, and hang. That can be more a LNT situation than tenting with a larger footprint at an established CS. I hike 95% of the time solo conscientious of a larger whole. That creates less impact than hiking in a party. I carry less food/day, less garbage, etc. I go UL. I don't relegate hiking to problematic conditions or situations like during spring mud season or during high usage periods or beating one trail down over and over at the expense of ignoring a plethora of hiking opportunities in the U.S. and locally. All this contributes to having a lesser impact. These are LNT wins too since I'm not succumbing to the supposed conveniences and comforts of AT shelters...which maybe I'm deluded by is what motivates most hikers/campers to congregate at established CS's... NOT TO supposedly adhere to LNT. Most times I don't sleep at a water source either. I mostly dry camp. Most AT shelters are located at water sources. I always follow strong LNT principles.

Dogwood
06-05-2019, 23:35
Absolutely HYOH BAonthe trail, which also entails being responsible for one's hike and behavior rather than doing yet another cookie cutter hike as someone else hiked.

scope
06-06-2019, 09:07
...I only make fire when car camping and don't like the idea of people chopping either. Hopefully, those that do build fire are using dead/downed wood, or is that against LNT?

...I see hammocking in my near future. Currently, I'm using the MSR thru-hiker mesh 2 under a Warbonnet Cloudburst tarp. I haven't used it in the backcountry yet, but love the idea of the tarp. I can only imagine getting out on the AT and seeing the wealth of opportunities to hang being very alluring.

Yes, acceptable to use the dead/downed wood, but most sites are so well used that there isn't much left of that. And what happens is the noobs come in expecting to use that wood and can't find any, or not enough for their hours long fires, and start cutting what they can.

As a hanger, of course, I'm really disappointed when I see that much chopping has occurred on larger trees that they clearly weren't going to chop down. This eventually makes the trees unhealthy, as does the barren ground created by recurring tent use. This leads to many popular campsites to be more dangerous than they otherwise would've been, and occasionally you hear on the news about a tree falling on someone - and like 99% of the time its in one of these high use areas. The other 1% are noob hammock users that don't notice the health of the tree they're trying to hang on. Forces created by suspending your weight horizontally are substantial. Its why using straps and not rope is so important. I loathe ENO and other retail hammocks for this reason. It was years before they even offered straps as a separate item to buy, which in and of itself, is loathsome.

Sorry, that's my rant of the day.

So, why are you using what is basically a 3-4 person fly with a limiting inner tent? Have you camped in the Ga mountains before? I use a netless hammock year round. My guess is the bugs have too much good environment around the mountains at lower elevation than to try living in the mountains. There are some not so intrusive ones and with insulation around me, the only exposure I might have is my face and I do carry a bug net for that purpose, but rarely use it. Frankly, I use it more in the daytime for gnats. The Cloudburst will, of course, be great for when you're hanging and you'll have all that room underneath to cook, change clothes, lollygag or whatever.

Dogwood
06-06-2019, 18:58
Yes, acceptable to use the dead/downed wood, but most sites are so well used that there isn't much left of that. And what happens is the noobs come in expecting to use that wood and can't find any, or not enough for their hours long fires, and start cutting what they can.

As a hanger, of course, I'm really disappointed when I see that much chopping has occurred on larger trees that they clearly weren't going to chop down. This eventually makes the trees unhealthy, as does the barren ground created by recurring tent use. This leads to many popular campsites to be more dangerous than they otherwise would've been, and occasionally you hear on the news about a tree falling on someone - and like 99% of the time its in one of these high use areas. The other 1% are noob hammock users that don't notice the health of the tree they're trying to hang on. Forces created by suspending your weight horizontally are substantial. Its why using straps and not rope is so important....

That is the common nature of well used beaten down camp sites of low knowledge based and 'I'm only responsible to self' trail USERS. Yet, that's supposed to be LNT? I scratch my head in confusion the AT has bear cables to protect food from bears and other critters but have shelters in the same immediate area with food prep tables and allow, even welcome, food to be prepared, eaten and usually stored in AT shelters???

BAontheTrail
06-06-2019, 19:11
Forces created by suspending your weight horizontally are substantial. Its why using straps and not rope is so important. I loathe ENO and other retail hammocks for this reason.

So, why are you using what is basically a 3-4 person fly with a limiting inner tent? Have you camped in the Ga mountains before? I use a netless hammock year round. My guess is the bugs have too much good environment around the mountains at lower elevation than to try living in the mountains. There are some not so intrusive ones and with insulation around me, the only exposure I might have is my face and I do carry a bug net for that purpose, but rarely use it. Frankly, I use it more in the daytime for gnats. The Cloudburst will, of course, be great for when you're hanging and you'll have all that room underneath to cook, change clothes, lollygag or whatever.

Hammock straps FOR SURE!!!

As for the tarp/bug net set-up: Most of the places I have previously camped (Alabama, and just into GA at state/natl parks) had bugs. I have yet to camp/hike on any portion of the AT, but I'm interested to see what late June brings in terms of insects at the elevations on the AT in GA. Does anyone else have feedback on the claim of hardly any bugs at AT elevation in GA??

Randy Watson
06-06-2019, 21:15
I'm hiking the Georgia portion of the AT in late June and am wondering about alternative (stealth?) sites. I'm thinking it would be nice to have some options other than the campsite/shelters I see in books like AWOL's guide. If using LNT ethics, can I just camp off trail anywhere in the AT corridor?

I've hiked the southern third of the AT twice, what I recall is that you will generally find established campsites shortly after every road crossing, at nearly every single summit or height of land/ridge, and almost always near water of any kind. But to be honest, the best method I recommend is finding a water source, pick a direction, and follow the creek until you find something. Works for me

Slugg
06-06-2019, 21:39
You need to know the local camping rules because they vary in certain areas along the AT.

The most well known rule variance is that in the Smokies, you must camp at designated campsites/shelters along the AT. Stealth camping in GSMNP is illegal.

Saw your username and knew that was exactly what you were going to say, lol

scope
06-07-2019, 09:02
That is the common nature of well used beaten down camp sites of low knowledge based and 'I'm only responsible to self' trail USERS. Yet, that's supposed to be LNT? I scratch my head in confusion the AT has bear cables to protect food from bears and other critters but have shelters in the same immediate area with food prep tables and allow, even welcome, food to be prepared, eaten and usually stored in AT shelters???

Would that not be common for any trail that has shelters? My guess is that the cables came after the shelters were built and had become a necessity for the very reason you describe... but I fail to see your point. Not like the AT - or any other trail - is going to tear down their shelters to be more LNT. They accommodate the best they can. Lots of compromises and accommodations in life, this is just one of them. I think all we can expect is for ourselves to be aware of LNT practices and respect how those practices will make things better for everyone, even those who don't show that same respect.

MuddyWaters
06-07-2019, 10:01
AT shelters were never intended to be LNT or anything else, they were intended to be a convenience for hikers.

GSMNP, specifically intends its campsites and shelters to concentrate impact, to preserve rest of park. They are not LNT either.

AT shelters do serve purpose today of concentrating impact, but that is not why they were built. It is becoming a more important aspect with increasing number of non LNT hikers.

Dogwood
06-07-2019, 10:58
Would that not be common for any trail that has shelters? My guess is that the cables came after the shelters were built and had become a necessity for the very reason you describe... but I fail to see your point. Not like the AT - or any other trail - is going to tear down their shelters to be more LNT. They accommodate the best they can. Lots of compromises and accommodations in life, this is just one of them. I think all we can expect is for ourselves to be aware of LNT practices and respect how those practices will make things better for everyone, even those who don't show that same respect.


On trails with shelters like the Pinhoti, Northville Lake Placid, Quachita and a few more I've thrued and plenty of SP's with shelters and a few NP shelters not all are beaten down with substantial disrespect of the environment. Even some Long Tr shelters, particularly north of the AT/LT junction, are not as heavily beaten down. The one Benton McKaye Shelter on private property is not as beaten down as AT shelters tend to be. The BMT GSMNP shelter is even less beaten down although mice run around there too. This is a newer designed and built shelter than some of the AT shelters though. Mice wouldn't be there rampaging if it wasn't for human food behaviors committed out of ignorance for our own species' food preparation, consumption, and storage comfort. Sure, the usage numbers play the primary role. However, the consequences result also from human irresponsibility with a low knowledge base that gravitate to AT over use. In the SP's and NP's education is playing a role in reducing human impact.

I wasn't suggesting AT shelters should be removed.

"I think all we can expect is for ourselves to be aware of LNT practices and respect how those practices will make things better for everyone, even those who don't show that same respect."

Alternatively, we could approach it as we are all stewards of each trail we step on having far reaching impacts beyond simply ourselves leading by example. We need to better police and educate our outdoor communities. In this regard WB posters like HKDK, Tipi Walter, Another Kevin, Muddy, TN Viking, Lori from the ATC, and several others immediately come to mind as good examples of responsible stewardship. Cam "Swami" and Liz "Snorkel" also immediately come to mind as strong educational advocates with far reaching impacts on communities they influence. We may be saying something similar but in our own unique Scope and Dogwood ways. :)


AT shelters are 1) built for the convenience and comfort of the human species 2) to concentrate impact, again for human convenience, AND for a greater environmental good

BAontheTrail
06-07-2019, 12:10
But to be honest, the best method I recommend is finding a water source, pick a direction, and follow the creek until you find something. Works for me

Lovely info, thanks Randy!

Scrum
06-08-2019, 12:04
Not like the AT - or any other trail - is going to tear down their shelters to be more LNT.
Actually, in the White Mountain National Forest, lots of shelter have been taken down. Not along AT, mostly in the designated wilderness areas. There are several factor that impact the decisions, part of which relates to LNT.

Interestingly, some shelter in WMNF have been designated for historic preservation.

A Google search produced this report on shelter in WMNF with lots of information about their history and types of shelters. https://www.nh.gov/nhdhr/documents/jordan.pdf

BAontheTrail
06-09-2019, 16:00
As others have stated there are a decent amount of established camp spots in GA. One thing that no one mentioned is that camping outside of an established spot might be a little more tricky in GA than elsewhere on the AT as there is a significant amount of posion ivy that grows as ground cover in GA. It's been a while since I've hiked GA, but I remember seeing lots of it along most of the AT through GA. So just be careful and make sure you can identify poison ivy as you don't want to get up in any of that.

I get chills thinking of having poison ivy all over my hands and fingers as a kid. Miserable!! Thanks for the heads up about the ground cover ivy.


Absolutely HYOH BAonthe trail, which also entails being responsible for one's hike and behavior rather than doing yet another cookie cutter hike as someone else hiked.

Best advice yet! Hike on, Dogwood =]

johnacraft
06-10-2019, 11:49
Most of the places I have previously camped (Alabama, and just into GA at state/natl parks) had bugs. I have yet to camp/hike on any portion of the AT, but I'm interested to see what late June brings in terms of insects at the elevations on the AT in GA. Does anyone else have feedback on the claim of hardly any bugs at AT elevation in GA??
That fits with my experience. Flying insects generally don't live in windy areas with little stagnant water, and the lower air density at elevation factors in as well.