Beginners’ guide to hiking the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

When you hear about people who have hiked the Appalachian Trail, it might conjure up the image of worn and weathered thru-hikers retiring after a long, arduous journey. Although it’s always an honor to meet one of these fearless, determined and dedicated long-distance hikers, you don’t necessarily have to take six months off work in order to enjoy hiking the AT. With some portions of the Appalachian Trail stretching only a couple of miles, even beginners could do it in an afternoon. After all, it’s right in your own backyard.

The southernmost trailhead of the Appalachian Trail begins at Springer Mountain in Fannin County and stretches 78.6 miles through North Georgia. You’ll know that you’re at the trailhead when you see the famous bronze plaque embedded in a stone at the entrance to the trail. Along the entire length the AT, you will also notice white rectangular markers, or blazes, across trees and rocks to lead you along the path. If you look carefully, you might discover the Springer Mountain trail log located in a special vault along the trail. Feel free to add your name to the list of other AT hikers.

In the spring and summer, you’re likely to see stunning wildflowers, mountain laurel, thick rhododendron and vibrant greenery galore. In the autumn, prepare yourself for a rainbow of fall delight as the surrounding sugar maple, white oak, tulip poplar and yellow birch trees show off their true colors. No matter what time of year you plan on hiking, moss-covered boulders, gorgeous waterfalls and towering forest canopies abound throughout the primeval forests along this southern portion of the Appalachian Trail.

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