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  1. #1
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    Default Amicalola Falls site help

    Seems ATC is pushing for an approach trail start as the road is in poor condition.

    So if I get a room at the lodge is that part way up the approach trail? I see a Parking lot at mile 1 which I think is after the stairs/falls. is that right. is this parking the lodge?

    I am thinking perhaps I can do the stairs on one day, check in and then hike the rest on the next day.

    I will be either flying or taking a bus in Not sure which is logistically easier. Either way I will have to find a ride to the lodge.

    Any explanation of the park would be helpful.

    I have a February 12th start.

  2. #2
    Leonidas
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    Yes, the lodge would allow you to "skip" the beginning of the Approach and the "dreaded" stairs. The 1 mile parking you see is the lodge. The Approach starts behind the Visitor Center, arches around to the falls and up the stairs. You walk up a trail and the lodge is there.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks JC13

  4. #4

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    Feb 12th yikes. Well, you shouldn't have trouble getting a room at the lodge then. Come March and early April they tend to be booked solid.

    I would consider the stairs an option, depending on weather and if you want to kill a day. The stairs follows a waterfall up the hill with something like 800 rock steps (?) and could be covered with ice.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Feb 12th yikes. Well, you shouldn't have trouble getting a room at the lodge then. Come March and early April they tend to be booked solid.

    I would consider the stairs an option, depending on weather and if you want to kill a day. The stairs follows a waterfall up the hill with something like 800 rock steps (?) and could be covered with ice.
    I was thinking of hiking the stairs, but on the day I arrive. Then next ay It sounds like I can just hike from the lodge to the Springer mountain. on the profile that first mile with the steps looks like the steepest section and then it is more gradual ups/downs.

  6. #6
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    Man, those stairs are tough, I tell ya. But, glad I did them. It's all part of the experience.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkeeterPee View Post
    I was thinking of hiking the stairs, but on the day I arrive. Then next ay It sounds like I can just hike from the lodge to the Springer mountain. on the profile that first mile with the steps looks like the steepest section and then it is more gradual ups/downs.
    Certainly an option if you get there early enough.
    I've done the approach from the Lodge several times.
    I've yet to do the stairs as it seems I always arrive late in the afternoon. The approach from the Lodge isn't very hard and is a nice warm up. But I've always done it in April, it might be a little more trouble in the middle of February, but then so will the rest of the trail for the next couple of months.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkeeterPee View Post
    Seems ATC is pushing for an approach trail start as the road is in poor condition.
    I have a February 12th start.
    I'm curious about the "road is in poor condition" part. One of the FS roads which leads to the Springer parking lot, Winding Stair Gap rd, is sometimes rough, but it was fine back in October. It is never great if there has been prolonged rain. The other way in, by Doublehead Gap rd, is fine pretty much all the time. I generally get up into that area a couple of times during the winter and would be happy to give more feedback after there has been some winter weather.

    When it comes to a shuttle, it will be much easier to get a shuttle to Amicalola. (Depending on what shuttle services are operating for 2020). If you fly in, the airport is south of Atlanta and many hikers take MARTA north from the airport to North Springs station. It's fairly easy to get a shuttle from North Springs to Amicalola. If you take a bus, most take a bus to Gainesville. The bus station is at a gas station just south of town, but it is fairly easy to get a shuttle to Amicalola.

    When you arrive at the park, the visitors center is on the entrance road just before you get to the picnic area. The arch and the check in center are right behind the visitors center. The approach trail begins there and goes along behind the picnic area until you come to the falls and then go up the staircase. If you went directly to the lodge, the road to the top of the falls turns off directly across from the visitors center and winds up a steep hill to the top of the falls, then crosses a bridge to get to the Lodge. The approach trail continues right at the parking lot to the Lodge.

    There is a thru-hiker shelter on the approach trail before you go up the stairs. Many thru-hikers arrive in the afternoon or evening since travel arrangements take a while. There is a motel in Dawsonville (the nearest town), Dawson Village Inn, which can be helpful in planning a shuttle.

  9. #9
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    Glen. Thank you for the information. Somewhere on the ATC site it encouraged a start at Amicalola Falls. it was a short sentence which I do not find now, but this longer post seems to also encourage such a start https://journeys.appalachiantrail.or...ls-state-park/

    Interesting That many day hikers start at the top. I guess they are just trying to save the road a little wear/tear of 2000 additional trips.

  10. #10

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    The Forest Service doesn't like to spend money to maintain roads. Winter and spring travel on those roads can really chew them up. Eventually a culvert will wash out and that will be the end of that. They should just gate the road until the wet season is over.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  11. #11
    Leonidas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    The Forest Service doesn't like to spend money to maintain roads. Winter and spring travel on those roads can really chew them up. Eventually a culvert will wash out and that will be the end of that. They should just gate the road until the wet season is over.
    Normally, here in the South, there is no end to the "wet season".
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  12. #12
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    I've never understood all the angst that exists about having to climb the stairs at Amicalola Falls when one is planning to hike up and down mountains for 2180 miles. Those stairs would be a welcomed footpath in parts of NH and ME.

  13. #13

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    If you do the approach trail and avoid the drive, you may avoid vomiting on the curvy road. Honestly, the lodge owner drove his van up that road at about 50 mph, and I was in the back with ten other people turning blue... Suddenly a hiker yelled out "Pull over!" and got out. He felt better after vomiting. I told him that his new trail name was "Pull over", but last time I saw him he was going by the name "The Kid". I think he made it to Maine, so I guess his legs were stronger than his stomach was...

  14. #14
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    FS 42, the gravel road into the Springer Mountain Parking area, was in excellent condition on 11/30/19. It has been maintained well throughout the hunting season this year. I expect it will be fine through the winter.

    I hiked the entire approach, steps and all. Made the trip to Springer in 4-1/2 hours, which may sound slow to some folks, but I'm a 1.5-2.0 MPH guy and I was happy with my results. It really isn't as bad as some folks make it sound, but YMMV.

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    I slack packed SOBO down the steps to the visitor center, met my wife and drove back up to the lodge. Stayed there, had a nice dinner. Next day kissed by wife goodbye where the approach trail crossed the road to the lodge and started north.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenlawson View Post
    I'm curious about the "road is in poor condition" part. One of the FS roads which leads to the Springer parking lot, Winding Stair Gap rd, is sometimes rough, but it was fine back in October. It is never great if there has been prolonged rain. The other way in, by Doublehead Gap rd, is fine pretty much all the time. I generally get up into that area a couple of times during the winter and would be happy to give more feedback after there has been some winter weather.

    When it comes to a shuttle, it will be much easier to get a shuttle to Amicalola. (Depending on what shuttle services are operating for 2020). If you fly in, the airport is south of Atlanta and many hikers take MARTA north from the airport to North Springs station. It's fairly easy to get a shuttle from North Springs to Amicalola. If you take a bus, most take a bus to Gainesville. The bus station is at a gas station just south of town, but it is fairly easy to get a shuttle to Amicalola.

    When you arrive at the park, the visitors center is on the entrance road just before you get to the picnic area. The arch and the check in center are right behind the visitors center. The approach trail begins there and goes along behind the picnic area until you come to the falls and then go up the staircase. If you went directly to the lodge, the road to the top of the falls turns off directly across from the visitors center and winds up a steep hill to the top of the falls, then crosses a bridge to get to the Lodge. The approach trail continues right at the parking lot to the Lodge.

    There is a thru-hiker shelter on the approach trail before you go up the stairs. Many thru-hikers arrive in the afternoon or evening since travel arrangements take a while. There is a motel in Dawsonville (the nearest town), Dawson Village Inn, which can be helpful in planning a shuttle.
    This.

    As an alternative the dahlonega Hiker Hostel offers packages that include a stay and shuttles to AF SP, Springer MT parking lot on the FS road or to the lodge and PU from either Atlanta's hartsfield INT AP or the Amtrak in Gainesville. I cant scenically undsertsand why the lodge unless you're already concerned about elev gain. IMHO the scenically best of the Approach Tr is Amicalola Falls especially in Feb when it could be partially frozen and running strong.

  17. #17

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    There's an alternative to the stairs. Right behind the visitor's center, where the trail starts, there is also the East Ridge Trail which is the original AT Approach before the stairs were built. Leads to the same place, the parking area at the top of the falls. Not that the stairs are hard, it makes walking up the side of the mountain a whole lot easier, and very scenic next to the falls.
    And I don't see why people want to skip the approach and start directly on Springer Mtn. The approach is part of the original trail from the 1920s and 30s.

  18. #18
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    Just hiked the approach trail (12/2/19). My wife drove up the Fire Service Rd42 to meet me at the top, no problem. Also started at the arch behind the visitor's center, without a pack, made an immediate left to take the stairs. The stairs got the heart pumping, took a couple rests, but not too bad up to the parking lot at the top of the falls. 1/4 mile farther to the Lodge parking area. Now wearing a 25 lb pack. The approach trail was about 1/4 mi from the Lodge. The approach trail took about 4 hours with another 20 minutes to meet my wife at the parking area just off FS42. Overall was not as bad as I feared. Temp was low 30s with wind gusts around 20 mph.
    Simple is good.

  19. #19
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    I have my reservations for Feb 9th. The driver suggested that I get dropped off at the Arch and walk up the stairs with my full pack to the lodge where I am staying that night, but I am wondering how hard it would be to get dropped off at the lodge, leave my pack, and then get a ride down to the arch to do the climb up the stairs without a pack. should be getting in about 2pm.

    and how hard is it to get rides to the top from the lodge or from the top back to the lodge. I am thinking about options where maybe I spend a second night at the lodge.

  20. #20
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    The drive from the lodge to the top of Springer (parking area off Fire Service RD 42) is about 30 miles and takes close to 45 minutes. This is the western route along RT 52 to the Roy Road turn-off. Not sure how hard it is to find a ride. Maybe contact someone at the Lodge or at the Visitor's center for advice on this.
    Simple is good.

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