|Trail Length: 20.0 miles||Type of trail: Point to Point|
|County: Union County, GA, Lumpkin County, GA, Fannin County, GA||Our rating: D|
|Features: scenic, camping, AT||Your rating:|
|Usage: Medium||Added on: January 01, 1995|
|Last hiked: May 28, 2001||Updated on: November 28, 2010|
|About these ratings|
Hiking trails in Union County, GA
Hiking trails in Lumpkin County, GA
Hiking trails in Fannin County, GA
Some who hike north from Amicalola Falls State Park stay overnight in the shelter at Black Gap, a mile south of craggy Springer Mountain although there is an excellent shelter with privy shortly after the start. Two plaques at the start (or end) of the trail marks the southern terminus for America's "First Trail." Excellent views from the top of Springer Mountain, especially to the west make a stay at the Springer Mountain shelter. Two-tenths of a mile north of the start is Springer Mountain Shelter with a reliable spring. A few steps north of that the Benton MacKaye, Sec. I turns right at a sign, following the original route of the AT in this area. From here the trail slopes easily down to Forest Service Road 42, where a day use parking area allows people walk to the top of Springer Mountain as a day hike). Past the parking area the trail climbs easily, and the Benton MacKaye rejoins the AT to follow the ridge of Rich Mountain. After the AT turns left, leaving the Benton MacKaye and dropping down Rich Mountain, is the Stover Creek Shelter to the left down an old logging road. The AT follows this logging road to the right as it parallels Stover Creek for the next mile or so.
This section of the trail has been relatively easy. The Benton MacKaye Trail leaves the AT a few steps after Long Creek Falls. This also marks the start of Georgia's Duncan Ridge Trail, perhaps the most challenging hike in the state. Shortly after the junction the AT winds past a Hickory Flat Cemetery and Hickory Flat Church.
The trail continues past Hawk Mountain (shelter at 7.6) to Hightower Gap. Hightower is probably a corruption of the word "itawa," an American Indian word for town. This marks what we have always considered the halfway point for the first section (its about two miles short of the actual halfway point) and F. S. 42 can be used for access. From here to Gooch Gap the trail is notably tougher, passing into the more mountainous climes of Lumpkin County. It is this portion of the trail that earns the footpath a "hard" rating. After climbing Sassafras Mountain the trail descends Winding Stair Gap to meet our old friend, F. S. 42. Two more times in this area the path will climb mountains only to descend to a gap it shares with this road. Just before meeting F.S. 42 once again, Gooch Gap Shelter is off to the left.
The next 4 miles of the trail, from Gooch Gap to Woody Gap are heavily traveled by day hikers. This portion of the hike is less difficult than the portion from Hightower Gap to Gooch Gap. This section ends at Georgia 60 in Woody Gap.
South: Southern Terminus Approach Trail
North: AT Woody Gap to Neels Gap
Your guide to hiking and walking trails in the state of Georgia
AT Woody Gap to Neels Gap
Amicalola Falls State Park
Benton MacKaye, Sec. I
Duncan Ridge Trail
Long Creek Falls
Southern Terminus Approach Trail