|Trail Length: 1.9 miles||Type of trail: In and out|
|County: Gilmer County, GA||Our rating: E|
|Features: scenic||Your rating:|
|Usage: Medium||Added on: January 01, 1995|
|Last hiked: April 24, 1999||Updated on: April 20, 2011|
|About these ratings|
Hiking trails in Gilmer County, GA
The southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail lies almost exactly in the middle of a line drawn from Ellijay to Dahlonega (History of Dahlonega, Georgia), and 8 miles north of Amicalola Falls State Park. Springer is one of the few places in Georgia never forested, mostly because the ground is so rocky that trees don't grow well in the soil. This made it less than worthwhile for companies to attempt to harvest what little lumber there is on top of the mountain.
On Forest Service Road 42 a day-use fee-based parking area has been developed allowing access by foot to both the top of Springer and nearby Three Forks. From this parking area cross the road to the well-marked trail to Springer Mountain. The path is blazed with the familiar white rectangle of the AT, and a blaze is always visible when you are on the path.
From the parking lot to the top of Springer Mountain the trail climbs constantly but never sharply. This is a wide trail, as is all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. The major problem with this footpath is the rocky ground; it is very easy to misstep and possibly fall. The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club has done a great job reworking the trail, adding steps in a couple of places and a unique water control network. It is obvious that they have spent much time improving this quality of this hike.
As the trail climbs to the steps the GATC built, it circles around a unique dead tree. Animals have hollowed out the tree looking for food. At this point there are some good views into the Cartecay River watershed. Continuing on to the top of Springer the views are even better, with a clearer view of the watershed. Two metal markers set in stone indicate the start of the Appalachian Trail. The wooden sign that once marked the start is gone now.
On the return trip The Benton MacKaye Trail, Section I can be taken for an interesting change of pace. The trail, at least in this area, is actually the original AT footpath. About .3 miles from the summit of Springer Mountain the Benton Mackaye swings west, then turns north to cross FS 42, finally meandering east just north of the road. Using this as a return path easily doubles the entire walk.