View Full Version : Recommendations for first timer?

Sand Crab
08-24-2003, 12:46
I am planning my first backpacking trip for the middle of Sep 03. I plan to do about a week (more or less, depending on how the body holds up). What I am looking for is recommendations on the best method for ease of tranportation. I plan to drive up from Florida. What I am thinking of is parking at Amicalola Falls SP and either doing the Georgia Loop (AT, Duncan Ridge, Benton Mckaye) or maybe just hiking along the AT, then backtracking to my starting point in order to eliminate the hassles of transportation from one point to another. Any experience with the Loop to pass along (water, resupply, etc) or other recommended starting points? Of course, any other tidbits of wisdom such as clothing for the time of year, amount of food to carry, etc. also welcomed. I already know my pack is too heavy (25-30 lbs without food or water).

08-24-2003, 12:55
the "standing indian loop" is nice it's just ove rthe North Carolina border...might be a good 1st backpacking trip...lots of shelter space and there would be some other folks around...easy terrain and no long shuttles with no backtracking...shower facilites close by....and a beautiful area ...the grandstand of the southern appalachians

Sand Crab
08-24-2003, 13:18
Thanks Steve. Haven't heard of the Standing Indian Loop. How long is it? What trails does it cover? Is there semi-secure parking available? I'm looking at all options. Just want to get in the woods.

Dances with Mice
08-24-2003, 18:43
The Georgia Loop (Duncan Ridge - Benton Mac - AT) will get you into some serious woods. I parked at the Springer Mtn parking lot so the only backtracking was over Springer. Going counterclockwise (hiking the Duncan Ridge portion first) gets the hardest portion of the hiking out of the way first, then from where the Duncan Ridge ends at Long Creek Falls you follow the (relatively) easier AT back to Springer. It's a really nice hike.

The Duncan Ridge portion gets very little use. You probably won't meet another hiker after you pass Vogel park until you get to the footbridge over the Taccoa river. Then you'll have lots of company along the AT.

I left resupply caches on GA-60 at Woody Gap and where the Duncan Ridge/Benton Mac cross GA-60 north of Suches. That way I only had to carry 2 or 3 days worth of food at a time.

08-24-2003, 19:45
I wuz just at da springer (forest service 42) parking lot ...sign there warns that some car window breakers our in the area ...and that they will even take your dirty clothes....I would not leave my car there....

08-24-2003, 19:54
what I call the Standing indian loop is outside of franklin NC just over the GA border...you can park at the backcountry info board(free)at standing Indian campground a forest service campground (with warm showers) or park at the campground at rainbow springs.(PAY) with hot showers...for a gentale trip...this being your first backpacking trip...you could get a shuttle up to ddep gap and then follow the AT back around to wallace gap maybe three nights and then there are a lot of other hikes in the area...the good part about the "standing Indain loop is that it is heavily traveled ...lots of good "escape" routes...ALBERT MTN. WITH FIRE TOWER ...plenty of shelter space just in case...gentle terrain...good for a FIRST BACK PACKING TRIP.

08-24-2003, 19:58
Sand Crab,

Where and how far is dependant on your capabilities. Do you have any hiking experience in the north Georgia mountains? I have only met one person foolish (I mean brave) enough to do the Georgia Loop Trail and that may have been Dances With Mice, if he is the fellow I met south of Rhodes Mountain in April of this year. That is one tough hike and I would not recommend it for a first time backpacking trip. The Georgia Loop Trail from Three Forks to Slaughter Gap & back is about 55 miles. From Springer to Slaughter Gap & back is about 65 miles and from Amicalola to Slaughter Gap & back is about 82 miles.

Shuttles are available, some free, some not. I would suggest that you call Winton Portor, the owner of Mountain Crossings at 706-745-6095. Mountain Crossings is the outfitter at Neels Gap, which is 30 trail miles north of Springer. He is a super guy and deals with hikers/backpackers of all abilities on a daily basis. He should be able to give you the best advice on parking, shuttles and a hiking plan that best fits your skills/desires.

I think the Standing Indian Loop that Steve mentioned is about 30 miles, with around 20 miles of it on the AT.


Sand Crab
08-25-2003, 18:05
Thanks, guys, for your info. Seems like the consensus from what you say and what I've heard elsewhere is that the Georgia Loop may be more than I should try on a first session. Good point about being able to bail out. After further consideration, I believe I will just start at Amicalola and hike until I feel like turning around. The AT has well established facilities available. As my consience (that's pronounced WIFE) just said "Good grief, stop talking and just go! Hiking is hiking. Where are you trying to go?) Sounds sensible to me. I will keep your info regarding alternate trails and shuttles handy. Thanks again. Hope to see you on the trail someday.

Dances with Mice
08-25-2003, 18:22
Yes, Youngblood, if you were half of a pair of northbound hikers I met on the Benton Mac trail, then I was the Loopy hiker. And it's been so long since I was a beginner that I forget what it's like. The GA Loop is not a hike for beginners, very true.

For a beginner, I see nothing wrong with an out and back hike. I retract my first recommendation and submit the following for consideration: Amicalola to the bridge over the Taccoa and back. It has a few climbs but also lots of nice walking beside mountain streams and a couple of scenic highlights - Springer Mtn., the Long Creek Falls and the Taccoa footbridge. I'm afraid I don't have the mileages, but Amicalola to Black Gap shelter on the first day, second day an easy hike to Long Creek Falls, third day to the Taccoa River. Fourth day, hang around the Taccoa, take a swim, wash clothes, soak feet, whatever, then mosey back just until Bryson Gap. There's an idyllic campsite there just past the spring. Fifth day hike to Springer shelter. Sixth day head back to Amicalola. Every night's at a different place, each day has a climb or two but nothing I'd consider major, and each day there's no rush, with lots of time to be in camp and play with all the new camping toys.

The only drawback is that there are no road crossings or bail out points between Long Creek Falls and the Taccoa River. Maybe this hike should be kept in mind for a second backpacking trip.

08-25-2003, 20:44
I'm the other half of the Nobo pair. How are ya Dances with Mice? I think the three of us were pretty whooped that day. Still beats work though, doesn't it?

Dances with Mice
08-25-2003, 22:24
TNJED wrote: I think the three of us were pretty whooped that day.

We were wrung out when we met and we all had more miles and mountains ahead. Y'all warned me about one section ahead, I'm sure it's the place where I walked back and forth around a boulder thinking "nobody would route a trail straight down that chute, would they?" I also remember two mountains earlier that day, the first made me wonder why I was backpacking and the second made me wonder why anybody in the world would.

But I also remember standing on a mountainside with all the trees below me leafed out and all the ones above me were still bare. I was standing on Spring.

Writing the second itinerary for Sand Crab makes me wish I had a week off this fall. I might do that trip next spring, pack a fly rod and forget about beating feet all day.

Nah. Georgia Loop II. Starting from Amicalola. Must remember to cache more beer.

08-26-2003, 10:11
Originally posted by Dances with Mice

Nah. Georgia Loop II. Starting from Amicalola. Must remember to cache more beer.

Dances with Mice,

If you want another good loop trail, look at the Appalachian Trail/Bartram Trail loop between Wayah Bald and Cheoah Bald in North Carolina. It's about the same distance and has enough climbs to give you a pretty good workout. Has mountains with views, two lookout towers, a lake and a major river with trailside restaurant. Shucks, you even get to cross a railroad track... what more do you need?


08-26-2003, 15:41
I just did this exact hike back in June. We drove up from Florida, and did a linear hike from the A.T. (Long Falls) to Benton MacKaye then Duncan Ridge to a second vehicle we had parked.

This was pretty trail...but STEEP, especially for us flatlanders. The bridge across the Tacoa was impressive. We didn't see another hiker after Long Falls until we got to the Tacoa. But there were lots of people at Tacoa (too many). We camped there on a Friday night and people were walking through our camp with what sounded like wagons and coolers on wheels so don't camp here over the weekend.

Good luck, have fun...the area is pretty and there is water at Bryson Gap I guess that is about halfway between Long Falls and the Tacoa River.

max patch
08-26-2003, 18:49
Lots of good suggestions here; I'll add a couple notes:

1. My first backpacking trip was a 6 day loop trip in the GSNP. (Drove up from Miami to do it.) While I don't particularly like in the GSNP (too crowded and too many rules) it would not be a bad choice for your first time. Lot of other hikers will give you an opportunity to see other gear in action. Need reservations so contact the park if this is of interest.

2. Agree that the GA loop not a particularly good choice for a first time trip.

3. Don't like to backtrack, but thats all I did for about 5 years after my first trip. Nothing wrong with it.

4. A good (safe) place to leave your car is the long term parking at Amicalola State Park (approach trail).

5. If using a shuttle, do the shuttle on day one so that you are hiking toward your car.

6. The Toccoa River as mentioned earlier is a cool spot to camp. It is, however, very crowded on the weekends.

7. The Standing Mountain Loop is also a good choice. Secure parking and shuttles available at Rainbow Springs Campground.

8. If you don't hike past Neels Gap then drive there if you hike in GA amd check out the store.

9. Consider window shopping at REI in Atlanta as you pass through.

09-07-2003, 22:45
Glad to see you are getting out there. I saw your birth year was not far from my own. I have been backpacking for the last two summers (11 days 70+ miles each) after a 25 year break.

Set your own pace. Taking a moment for a breather at a pretty vista can keep you going better than pushing too hard. I found I could not keep up with the young guy's (boy scout crew) pace but could hike farther and longer over the course of a day if I went my pace.

Watch your feet and knees if new to the mountains. The DOWN hills are harder on your feet. If you have not hiked with two poles I would give them a try. They make going up and down much easier. Use a pair of old cross country ski poles on one weekend hike and I was sold.