View Full Version : What is it like at Springer

01-29-2008, 10:49
I am reading about all of the folks starting their thru in Feb/Mar/Apr and am wondering exactly how crowded it is at Springer during these months.

Any idea how many people (estimate...) per day start walking from Springer during the spring months? I get a mental image that looks something like a line of ants walking through the woods.....


Lone Wolf
01-29-2008, 10:51
about mid-march it starts to get crowded. 10-20 per day start. hawk mtn. shelter is crowded nightly. usually 30 or so hikers

Almost There
01-29-2008, 10:54
Living in the area, I've hiked up around Springer quite a bit in the past during these months...somedays you see a bunch at once, and some days you barely see anyone. Regardless, they are usually spread out until they hit the shelter.

Pedaling Fool
01-29-2008, 11:03
The trail is more crowded in areas like Shenandoah Nat. Park (all the tourists), don't see many people on the trail in Georgia, but they're everywhere once you get to the shelters. You will be standing in a line for the privy in the morning, best to just start walking and do your buisness further down the trail. Bring a tent/hammock.

max patch
01-29-2008, 11:06
Springer MT shelter on a Sat night during peak thruhiker season will be full and it is not unusual to have an additional 30 tents/hammocks in the area.

01-29-2008, 11:08
How is the Long Creek Falls area during this time? I don't mind another tent or two, but is it normally crowded as well? Or is everyone shelter hopping at that point?

Lone Wolf
01-29-2008, 11:10
shelter hopping for sure

Snowbird 2004
01-29-2008, 11:14
Leave Springer on a Sat or Sun with the crowds or leave Springer on a Tuesday through Thursday with very few people.

01-29-2008, 11:16
Started March 1 (03). Lotsa people started that day. It was a saturday and one of the first yrs March 1 became a real popular start day. About 3-5 people ON springer, but lots more on the parking area. About 20 at Hawk Mtn that night, lotsa shelter hopping the first couple weeks. Things gradually thinned out over time. After Damascus it was a small group and people spread out.

Good part about a fe/early march start is you can get to the front of the pack and stay there if you don't wanna be surrounded by crowds. Starting in April, well, even if you race, you'll just be catching up to more people.

01-29-2008, 11:29
You'll notice the crowds at shelters and campsites. Not necessarily while hiking. Carry a tent, tarp or hammock and do not expect to find room in the shelters.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
01-29-2008, 11:37
LW has pegged it - it is a zoo out there in March & April. My advice if you like solitude is to go off the trail far enough not to be seen and stealth camp. I usually followed a small stream up or down just far enough to be out of sight and then moved away from the stream (so I wouldn't be bothered with bugs or animals that tend to hang out around the water sources). Carry a compass and use it so you don't get disoriented (or lost).

01-29-2008, 11:48
You can avoid some of the crowds by starting mid-week or even Sunday (but not on the 1st or 15th of the month!) and shortening or elongating your mileage to camp at some of the less-used places.

Four of us hiked Georgia starting out from Amicalola Lodge on Sunday, April 3, 2004. The first night we camped at Hickory Flatts Cemetery with about a dozen others. The second night we camped alone atop Ramrock Mountain. We rented one of the Blood Mountain Cabins in Neels Gap, and then increased our mileage to 3 consecutive 18-mile days. Blue Mountain Shelter was very crowded before a large group of thru-hikers decided to go down into town for the night, but after that there were only 3 of us in the shelter and another half dozen camping.

Conversely, we heard from the ridge runner that the night before we started there were 35+ at Springer Mountain Shelter and something comparable at Hawk Mountain Shelter.

01-29-2008, 12:05
I started on April 16th last year and it was great. Not too crowded but still enough people around to male it fun.

The nice thing was as we passed through the first few towns all the old salts told us that we started at the perfect time. I tend to agree.

(It was especially nice to not have a log jam at the Smokies)

01-29-2008, 12:19
Springer MT shelter on a Sat night during peak thruhiker season will be full and it is not unusual to have an additional 30 tents/hammocks in the area.

Insanity. I thought Maine in August was crawly with people.

Red Hat
01-29-2008, 18:34
You'll see people the first .9 of a mile if you hike up to Springer to start instead of taking the Approach Trail, and you'll see more as you hike that .9 back down. Other than that, not many people unless you stop at the shelter. Folks seem to spread out as they hike. In 2004 I pitched my tent alone about 10 miles down and didn't see anyone that night because everyone else stopped at Hawk Mountain. In 2005 I was wanting company and enjoyed tenting at the shelter. It's up to you.

01-29-2008, 18:35
Whats it like on Springer? Well, theres trees, grass, sometimes water, a privy. Oh, I hear theres a shelter there to, but Ive never stayed at it.

01-29-2008, 18:50
There are enough people starting March 1st this year (a Saturday), that there's a whole thread in this section of the website of people starting that day. And that's just the WB community.


01-29-2008, 18:56
I thought it wasnt very crowded. Hawk mountain shelter was. Everyone I talked to were excited, scared and all wanted to make it to the end. Its funny how you meet someone on the fisrt day and you dont see them for a while and then your just hiking along and boom there they are. Then its like where? how did you get in front of me ? Its like seeing a long lost friend.

01-29-2008, 19:32
When we started in March 5th, the reason it was crowded at Springer shelter was the 2006 hikers were having a reunion. I think about 10 or so of us started, but we were all at different paces. Some had made it to Stover the first day.

01-29-2008, 20:50
The contrast with the off-season experience is quite striking. There's lots of DRAMA. People are wildly excited to be starting the big adventure. Many are suffering through a problem or twelve. If you can overlook the trampling of undergrowth and abandonment of food and gear, the show is pretty entertaining.