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Duluth Massage

Southern Terminus Approach Trail
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 8.4 miles Type of trail: Point to Point
County: Lumpkin County, GA, Gilmer County, GA, Fannin County, GA, Dawson County, GA Our rating: D
Features: waterfalls, visitors center, scenic, picnicking, camping, ATaccess Your rating:
Usage: Light Added on: January 01, 1996
Last hiked: September 26, 2012 Updated on: September 03, 2013
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Directions to Southern Terminus Approach Trail

The Southern Terminus Access Trail begins at the Amicalola Falls Visitors Center, climbs to the top of Amicalola Falls (this portion is also called the Amicalola Falls East Ridge Trail), crosses the road to the lodge, then climbs through the Amicalola watershed to Springer Mountain.

From the Appalachian Trail long term parking lot cross the street to the visitors center. As you approach the building, follow a cement walkway to the right, turn left (there are bathrooms on the left). Past the bathrooms, turn left again, then make a right hand turn just before a small interpretive area. An archway made of fieldstone marks the start of the trail. Just past the archway is a rock in the shape of the state of Georgia with the familiar "Maine to Georgia" slogan. This trail climbs the eastern ridge of the Amicalola Watershed in a series of switchbacks. It then joins an old road for the final climb to the Upper Falls at Amicalola Falls State Park. To reach the falls, turn left after a gated exit and a small bathroom with snack vending machines. The portion of the Southern Terminus Trail from the Visitors Center to the Falls is heavily used.

After visiting the falls, return to the trail and turn left. At the end of the parking lot turn right, walk along lodge road, then turn left at a banked entrance marked for both the Hike Inn and the Access Trail for the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The approach to the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain winds 7.3 miles following ridges and streams in a steady ascent to the top of the mountain. The trail to the Hike Inn and Cochran Falls comes off to the right at 0.1 mile.

Most of the long initial climb is through a typical Southern Blue Ridge deciduous hardwood forest (the technical name for this forest is Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forest). Among the trees we noted were white and (occasionally) red oak, a wide variety of maple trees including silver and red maple and boxelder (yes, its a maple tree.) The high canopy of trees rarely breaks into full sunlight, and the rich undergrowth, which includes a variety ferns in the wetter areas, is a simple enjoyment throughout this hike.

Amicalola Falls
The Amicalola Watershed, which this trail follows up the mountain is the southernmost boundary for many northern species. Pink ladyslippers, which are considered rare, appear at times.

From the start of the trail behind the top of the falls it winds for 3 miles, climbing steadily, on the east side of the Amicalola watershed. Then it begins a hard climb to the ridge top. From here the trail turns to an up and down affair, with considerably more up than down. Across Frosty Mountain and Woody Knob, the trail falls to Forest Service Road 28 in Nimblewood Gap. From here it is up and over Black Mountain and into the gap. This is the hardest climb of the trail.

A shelter at Black Mountain Gap about 7 miles up the path is a good stopping point if you are not planning to hike the AT, but if you are planning an extended hike on the AT continue to the shelter just past Springer. It has a privy and running water. Following this shelter is the excellent view from Springer Mountain towards the west. Pam and I like to watch the sunset from here, then return to our evening accommodations.


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Southern Terminus Approach Trail
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Georgia Hikes
Your guide to hiking and walking trails in the state of Georgia

Article Links
Amicalola Falls
Amicalola Falls East Ridge Trail
Amicalola Falls State Park
Appalachian Trail
Springer Mountain

Georgia Trails
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