The Appalachian Trail
As the trail follows the eastern ridge of the Appalachian Mountains it passes through 14 states, and although the slogan is "Maine to Georgia," most people hike the trail the other way, Georgia to Maine. Georgia's mild climate plays a role in this, since hikers like to start the 6 month trek in April. Another reason: the toughest part of the trail, in New Hampshire and Maine is saved for last, when hikers are in condition to handle it.
Georgia has nearly eighty miles of the AT running from Springer Mountain on the Fannin-Gilmer line to Bly Gap, where the trail enters North Carolina. Some excellent backpacking adventures await those who decide to hike the Georgia portion of this National Scenic Trail.
The Appalachian Trail begins at Springer, and follows a rocky ridge line almost due north to the Springer Mountain Parking Area. It climbs and descends Rich Mountain before reaching Three Forks. This is the well known confluence of Stover, Long, and Chester Creek to form Noontootla Creek. From here the trail climbs along and near Long Creek to Long Creek Falls, one of the area's most popular waterfalls. A few steps after this waterfall the Benton MacKaye Trail comes off to the left, and the Duncan Ridge Trail begins.
From this point the Appalachian Trail makes a wide right turn and begins the climb to Hawk Mountain. As you walk along the ridge before Hawk Mountain, you leave Fannin County and enter Union County. There is a scenic view of the Etowah River Valley
headwaters from the top of this peak. The AT then returns to Forest Service Road 42 at Hightower Gap. This gap is where Forest Service Road 69, home to the Chattahoochee Fish Hatchery and the Swinging Bridge on the Benton MacKaye Trail, ends.
On the Appalachian Trail there are three shelters for hikers:
Springer Mountain Shelter (0.2 miles after the start of the AT) - Spring for water and privy Stovall Creek Shelter - (2.5 miles) - Stovall Creek for water Hawk Mountain Shelter (Union County) (7.6 miles) - Headwaters of Long Creek for water, privy Please note: After Hawk Mountain the next shelter is on Gooch Mountain (14.9 miles)
There are three day-use parking areas covering the Fannin County section of the Appalachian Trail, two on FS 42 (Springer Mountain and Hightower Gap) and on FS 58 at Three Forks that is heavily used because of Long Creek Falls.