Location: North Georgia
Trip Starts: USFS 42
Trip Ends: USFS 42
Total Distance: 1.8 miles
Hike Type: In & Out, Backtrack Hike
Hike Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trails Used: Appalachian Trail
Trail Traffic: Moderate to Heavy
Trip Type: Overnight Hike
More Information:

Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
1755 Cleveland Highway
Gainesville, GA 30501
770 297-3000

Springer Mountain - August 2013

The Chattahoochee National Forest is one of two National Forests in the State of Georgia, and it takes its name from the Chattahoochee River whose headwaters begin in the North Georgia mountains. The River and the area were given the name by the English settlers who heard it from the Indians that once lived here. The Chattahoochee National Forest was created when the Forest Service purchased 31,000 acres in Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin and Union Counties from the Gennett family in 1911 for $7.00 per acre. In the beginning, the Chattahoochee was part of the Nantahala and Cherokee National Forests in North Carolina and Tennessee, but eventually the Forest Service made additional land purchases and expanded the Chattahoochee to its current size of nearly 750,000 acres.

Springer Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee, and it is the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Every spring, 2000-3000 thru-hikers (or individuals that plan to hike the entire A.T. in a single year) leave from the summit of Springer to attempt a 2100+ mile journey to the northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Springer Mountain (3,782 feet) has a bronze plaque (showing a hiker facing north) that is set in stone next to the first white blaze marking the Appalachian Trail. There is also a terminus plaque set in a rock behind the blaze that has a compartment with a trail register of entries from day hikers, backpackers, and thru-hikers that have visited the area. A shelter located about 0.2 miles north of Springer on a blue blazed side trail provides overnight accommodations and has a nearby water source from a mountain spring.

Springer Mountain is crisscrossed by three trails: the Approach Trail (a blue-blazed access trail that heads down the mountain to Amicalola Falls State Park), the Appalachian Trail (which runs northbound to Maine), and the Benton MacKaye Trail (which runs northbound for 100 miles to the Oconee River in Tennessee). The area is popular with both day and overnight hikers, and it gets a fair amount of trail traffic. I’ve hiked to Springer Mountain from all directions using the Approach Trail from Amicalola Falls State Park, the Benton MacKaye Trail from Big Stamp Gap, and the Appalachian Trail from USFS 42. This short day-hike is from USFS 42 and is the shortest and easiest of the three routes, although it requires a lengthy drive on U.S. Forest Service Roads.

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