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novhiker
10-23-2003, 14:25
As an old minimalist and relatively experienced solo hiker, I need some advice as to a good, short (5 to 7 miles) overnighter to introduce my 12 year old daughter to the joys of carrying your own stuff. I was thinking Neal's Gap to Hogpen (we are based in GA.), but haven't been through there in years. How would a short legged, young lady enjoy that part? She likes views as opposed to green tunnels. Any other of your favorites/suggestions in the GA area would be appreciated. Looking at Halloween weekend as the trip date, (dad, we can't go up Blood mountain on Halloween by the way.) :-?

Dances with Mice
10-23-2003, 16:00
For novices, try Raven Cliff Falls. For the best campsite: Walk to the 5th footbridge, counting the first one over the stream near the trailhead. Just before the 5th, follow the trail to the right to a secluded campsite. Almost all the other campsites are too close to the stream and the trail. Don't tell anyone else about it...

Duncan Ridge from GA-60 south to the bridge. Nice ridgewalk, no steep climbs, all climbs are nicely shaded.

Appalachian trail south from Hightower Gap to Dukes Creek Falls. (I think it's Hightower - the gap just north of Hawk Mtn.). Anyway, from the gap walk south up Hawk Mtn. Stop to visit at the shelter. Continue south, stop at the first gravel road crossing and walk right 100 yards to the old Cemetary & play on the home made merry-go-round. Continue south to the Falls. Lots of breaks and things to explore on this hike. To camp, follow the Duncan Ridge north just a quarter mile or so to a series of beautiful campsites away from the crowds at the Falls.

smokymtnsteve
10-23-2003, 17:42
North from neels gap and then stay the night at whitley gap shelter....some great views ....sounds like a plan to me....

Youngblood
10-23-2003, 19:19
Novhiker,

Neels Gap to Hogpen Gap has some of the best vistas in Georgia. Lots of campsites along the ridgelines on the northern half with views to the east and you can see the lights from Dahlonega to the south. If it's cold and windy, it might be tough staying warm... if it's not, it's great. There are a couple of places where there are sidetrails to water, but I don't think I have ever used them. The trail 'touches' GA348 at Tesnatee Gap about 1 mile and 1 big climb before it arrives at Hogpen Gap... if you're tired, its a nice 0.5 mile road walk from Tesnatee Gap to Hogpen Gap with an outstanding view of Brasstown Bald (Brasstown Bald is the highest peak in GA and its tower makes it very easy to identify). Like you, that is the hike I would pick. If the weather is nice the roads in the mountains will have lots of leaf-watchers so plan on the drive taking a little longer and avoid Helen, Dahlonega and Cleveland.

Youngblood

max patch
10-23-2003, 20:21
Might want to consider Springer to Hawk if you want an "easy" hike. Park at USFS 42 and do the climb up and down Springer without packs.

novhiker
10-24-2003, 10:06
Thanks for the ideas folks. Looks like I'll have to keep an eye on the weather forecast. She already loves dayhikes, but from experience I know its no fun to be freezing cold, no matter what the views are.

SGT Rock
10-24-2003, 10:53
I did my first overnight hikes (at about that same age) in the Standing Indian area up to Standing indian mountain. There are some good views and campsites all along the AT up there, and you can use the connecting trails for loop hikes back to the campground.

Pedestrian
10-24-2003, 10:57
I agree that Neels to Hogpen would be the best novice hike, but I would take North to South.

Start at Hogpen parking lot and go down the road and across the highway the first climb is about 175ft. in ľ mile. Here you will find a sign for Wiley Gap shelter. You must go see the views. Itís only about 100 yards down this side trail to the opening and itís almost level walking.

Continue back to the AT and go south down the very steep trail on Wildcat Mountain. Itís only Ĺ mile to the bottom but you will loose 550ft of elevation. Now you will find yourself back at the highway and ready to begin the climb up Cowrock mountain. Donít worry about this hill. The climb is not quite a mile long and gains 675ft.

Once on top take in the great views of the valley. You can see Dahlonega, Cleveland and Gainseville from here. The AT takes a hard right goes down the ridge at this point but if you wish for a great campsite on top follow the rock face around to one of several great spots. If you need water continue down the AT for about ľ mile until you find a post that is missing a sign. Follow the side trail down to a spring (less than 50 yards).

On the next day continue your southward walk down the AT for 4 ĺ miles to Neels Gap. During this gentle strol1 enjoy views from Wolf Laurel Top, Rock Spring Top and Levelland Mountain. There is plentiful water and the elevation is mild (820ft of gain and 1500ft of loss).

Walk into Mountain Crossings store like a real backpacker and buy that young lady some icecream for a job well done. She will feel the pride of having accomplished something and have many people looking at her in awe and envy.

Make sure place your second car at the Reese parking area about Ĺ mile from north of Neels gap. Email me if you need further info on this trip or if you need some help. I too am a backpacking dad.

Jack Tarlin
10-24-2003, 15:14
Novhiker---

This is a GREAT section; try, if possible, to end your day at Cowrock Mountain (a good short day from Neels); there is great camping there, and it's one of the few places in the area where you can get both a sunset and a sunrise from the same site. Just make sure you bring water with you.

Footslogger
10-24-2003, 15:29
Have you looked into the trails out of Vogel State Park ? There is a trail there called "Coosa Backcountry Trail". It's not actually on the AT but very close. The entire length of the trail is 12 miles or so but there are a lot of "bail out points" (road crossings) that would take you right back to the park, where there is a ranger station and small camp store. You could easily hike in 4 - 5 miles or so, camp for the night and then either backtrack or take the first road crossing back to the park.

When I still lived down in Ga, one of my favorite hikes (and the one I took my daughter on) was the Blood Mountain loop. It's not a "loop trail" per se but you can make it into one. Just north of the store at Neels Gap is a parking area at the "Byron Reese Trail Head". That trail intersects the AT just below Blood Mountain. You can either take the AT up and over or take the blue blazed "Freeman Trail" that by-passes Blood Mountain and drops you onto the AT at Bird Gap.

Hope that helps ...and Happy Hiking

novhiker
10-28-2003, 12:48
Once again thanks everyone. I think we'll try the Hogpen to Neel's route as the weather looks like it's going to clear. Ahh, out of the office finally....BTW SGT Rock, I'm saving that Standing Indian Mt. loop for myself week before thanksgiving:)