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Thread: Approach Trail

  1. #1

    Default Approach Trail

    Is it better to do the approach trail or use the forest service road to get closer to Springer? We have someone who will drop us off.

  2. #2
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    Take the forest service road. No need to bust your ass before you actually start the AT. It's only .9 of a mile back south to the top of Springer from the parking lot. It's an easy hike so friends and/or family can see you off.

  3. #3

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    I felt guilty at first for skipping the approach trail. A week of hiking cured that. But the road up is rough, all the cabs were scraping their tailpipes on the way up.

  4. #4

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    Get a ride up to Springer, well as close as you can get. I wish I could have done this last year. I WILL get a ride up there this year.

  5. #5
    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    take the forest service road to the base of springer...after the short climb up springer then turning north it is a easy cruise to start your hike and get your trail legs. hawk mtn shelter is a great shelter!

  6. #6
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    I disagree. DO the Approach trail. It mentally prepares you for your hike, gives you an extra day in the woods, is a beautiful walk, prepares you for the "trail in Georgia", gives you great "starting" pictures, and an amazing summit of SPringer Mountain. It is a relatively mild 8 miles, and we met a lot of people our first day on the trail this way. Felt like we were old friends by the time we reached the summit of SPringer. I'll probaably get slaughtered for this, but it's just my opinion, that if you start you hike looking for ways to skip out on miles, it doesn't set a positive tone for the remainder of your hike. The Approach trail was a great part of the trip for us. We were so anxious to get to Springer the miles seemed to fly by, and the anticipation built to the point that I cried with excitement on the summit. Don't miss it if you can help it.
    "It's a dangerous business, going out your door...if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."-The Hobbit

  7. #7
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    Hey JumpStart -

    I agree 100%. Don't start your adventure by taking short cuts. Those 8 miles were a good introduction to the trip. Our only disappointment was not seeing the trail littered with gear. After reading Bill Byrson, I don't know what I was expecting to see. Actually there were 5 of us in the shelter in the park at the beginning of the approach trail and we all finished.

  8. #8
    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    I'll admit that I'm blue blazing hiker trash...I like to have a good time...I solo hike and meet plenty of folks..took me 9days to get from standing indian to fontana but I spent two nights at NOC and then Two nights at fontana Inn..and then I walked up to Iceh20 shelter and spent TWO WEEKS at ice h2o shelter and then to mtn mommas for a night and then took me 4 days to get to Hot springs where I spent 3 nights at elmers..then on to damascus with 1 night in Newland NC with mu aunt sharon and uncle frank and good cooking and then to laurel creek fot the night and even spent a night in the CASTLE in hampton ...well I finally made it to damascus for "the beaver dam jam " the july the 4th celebration... It was KICKING not as crowded as trail days...

    but I have walked to traildays from springer in other years ..this year I hope to walk to trail fest In Hot Springs and then hang out on a friends organic farm for a couple weeks and then maybe skip up to Mass and head north...yep I'm blue-blazing hiker trash...no purist here! I'm the kinda guy that might hang on Max Patch for two days or take a week to go from roan high top ...to grassy ridge ,,and then overmtn..and even a night on hump...i'm a charter member of the Henry david Thoreau strolling society!

  9. #9
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    I think that most first-timers should do the approach trail. It gives you a chance to see what it is like hiking in the mountains of north Georgia and a chance to see how your gear (shoes and pack mainly) is performing before you get too far in to turn back. If you start at Amicalola State Park and things go really bad, you only have to turn around and hike/hobble back to Amicalola SP. If you start at Springer Mountain and have really bad problems, you have to retrace your steps back to Springer Mountain and THEN DO what may be a very difficult 8.5 mile hike to Amicalola SP before you can get a ride out. In years past I have day hiked the approach trail and seen would-be thru-hikers that decided to turn back before they reached Springer Mountain (not a whole lot, just a few). Sometime the mountains are more difficult than people are physically prepared for, sometimes people are just packing more weight than they can haul up them hills, and sometimes they have shoe problems when going up and/or down the hills.

    Also, it is a nice section of trail and gives you the option of spending a night on Springer Mountain and using the privy with the great view... and that my friends is a pretty good way to start your hike. I live in Georgia and had hiked all of Georgia before my thru-hike. I started at Amicalola SP on my thru-hike-- wouldn't have had it any other way. Shucks, you get to sign-in the thru-hikers register, weigh your pack and declare to the world that you're a THRU-HIKING FOOL! It's a big day, take the time to enjoy/relish it and maybe even get to know some of the other thru-hikers. Maybe you will be lucky enough to see some of these same faces on Katahdin in a few months.

    Youngblood

  10. #10

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    Originally posted by Jumpstart
    I'll probaably get slaughtered for this, but it's just my opinion, that if you start you hike looking for ways to skip out on miles, it doesn't set a positive tone for the remainder of your hike.
    The miles on the approach trail are not included in the "total mileage" of the trail, so it really isn't looking for a way to skip out on miles.

    I didn't think the approach trail was as bad as everyone makes it out to be. I also don't think it is as important an issue that everyone seems to make it out to be.

    If you feel you need to do it, do it. If not, then don't. YOU are the one that sets the tone of your hike, whether it be positive or negitive and weather you do the approach trail or not.

  11. #11
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    Told ya I'd get slaughtered. I understand that the Approach trail doesn't count for "official" miles. However, I was under the impression that most people undertaking the AT were there because they enjoyed hiking. If so, then why skip a great day of hiking, a beautiful trail, and a chance to take a "short cut" to the summit, when you could have an extra day in the woods? The more the better, if you ask me....
    "It's a dangerous business, going out your door...if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."-The Hobbit

  12. #12
    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    Default Do the approach trail

    My vote is do the approach trail. To me, it was a good dose of the reality of what the AT is all about. If you "blue blaze" the approach trail by going directly up the trail along side the falls, you get in a good climb that gets your heart pumping and your legs aching.

  13. #13
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    The reality is 9 out of 10 folks attempting a thru-hike won't make it to Maine. Most of them haven't done any long distance backpacking. I have seen plenty of people arrive on Springer after taking 2 days to do the approach trail and they are physically and mentally whipped. Then they START the AT blistered, sore and already feeling doubtful and defeated. There are dozens of beautiful side trails off the AT for exploration that thru-hikers never see. The approach trail is the only blue-blaze they do.

  14. #14
    Registered User Waterbuffalo's Avatar
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    My 2 cents is that I hate the approach trail always have and always will. I have hiked it 2 times just out with friends and I really didn't care for it. But if your going to thru-hike you should do it it's great training to the big hike.
    "Sometimes you have to make a clean break from the past to make a new beginning"

  15. #15
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    News Flash: Forest Service to build road to top of Katahdin

    Now the debate can start for SOBO's too!!!!

  16. #16

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    Damned if you do, Damned if you don't. Except maybe WaterBuffalo.(just kidding)

  17. #17

    Default

    A few comments about starting at USFS 42 versus the approach trail at Amicalola State Park.

    Folks who state that they won't be tied to the white blazes and will blue blaze to interesting spots should hike the approach trail. Starting at Amicalola State Park will allow you to hike from the bottom to the top of the falls. These are the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi with a drop in excess of 700 feet.

    Amicalola State Park is more "user friendly" to any non-hiking friends who may see you off. The park has picnic tables and restrooms which may be more comfortable for your goodbye sendoff. Your friends can see you off at the ranger station and then drive to the top of the falls and meet you again. From there it is an easy hike should they want to hike a bit with you.

    The approach trail has an undeserved reputation as being tough. Several relocations in recent years have made this section no more difficult than any other section in Georgia.

    USFS 42 is a well-maintained forest service road. A normal passenger car can safely travel on this road.

    If you are looking for an "easy" first day the 8 mile hike from Springer to Hawk Mountain shelter is one of the easiest stretches in Georgia. I had planned to stay there my first night; instead I arrived there for lunch and hiked on to the Gooch Gap shelter my first day.

    Neither way is more "right" than the other; depends on what you are looking for.

  18. #18
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    The approach Trail isn't any harder or different than the AT in Georgia, in fact I think it was the original AT before Springer was changed to the terminus. I think it's reputation probably comes from the fact that it is the first uphill hike for a lot of people setting out on a thru-hike. Most likely those people without their trail legs, overloaded packs, ill fitting boots, and maybe not a lot of experience feel like they are getting their balls busted getting up the mountain, but I found it a nice little walk.

    My personal reccomendation is hike it if you want to, but in know way do you have to do it. If you want to use it to get in shape for the trail, then you are probably already in bad shape and should have done more hiking prior to getting to Springer, but then again I haven't Thru-Hiked yet. I guess there is a benifit to doing the approach and then deciding if you could really do it at the top, or you could get to the top via FS 42, walk a couple of days and bail at Suches if you aren't ready yet just about as easy.

    I guess though in the end, if you plan to walk 2160+ miles that worrying about 8 miles seems a little silly.
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  19. #19
    Registered User Waterbuffalo's Avatar
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    Welcome back Rock hope you had a good time in the field! I agree w/ ya 8 miles is kinda hokey to worry about. In addition the Orginal trail Started on Mt Oglethorpe with I think is to the west of Springer.



    WB
    "Sometimes you have to make a clean break from the past to make a new beginning"

  20. #20
    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Waterbuffalo
    Welcome back Rock hope you had a good time in the field! I agree w/ ya 8 miles is kinda hokey to worry about. In addition the Orginal trail Started on Mt Oglethorpe with I think is to the west of Springer.
    WB
    Did the original AT come past Amicola Falls? Or is there another blue blaze that closely follows the original AT?

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