This hike was a pilgrimage of sorts for me. Over the years I have logged countless miles along the Appalachian Trail in nearly every one of the 14 states it passes through. I had, however, never managed to set foot upon either terminus of the trail that has figured so prominently in my hiking lifestyle. Finally, I had the opportunity to correct that...
Springer Mountain (3,782') is a rather non-descript peak in North Georgia that owes its fame solely to the fact that, in 1958, it became the official southern terminus for the Appalachian Trail. Prior to 1958 the terminus was located 14 miles farther south on Mt. Oglethorpe but development there dictated that it be moved to a peak more well-protected within the confines of Cattaloochee National Forest. Springer Mountain, whose name no one can completely explain the origin of, is not an easy mountain to find or get to even to this day. Most aspiring through-hikers begin their Appalachian Trail saga by hiking the 8-mile approach trail to Springer from Amicalola Falls State Park to the south. There is another option however, one I would use on this day.
My short jaunt to the top of Springer would begin and end at the Appalachian Trail's southernmost road crossing, that of Forest Road 42 on the eastern flanks of the mountain. From the parking area it's an easy 2-mile round trip to the top which in no way, shape, or form will provide you with a glimpse at the ordeal aspiring AT through-hikers face on the other 2,100 miles of trail. Though quite rocky the trail to the summit gains very little elevation but provides easy access to an unassuming spot in the woods where each year many hopes and dreams are attempted and realized. For myself, though I have no illusions about ever successfully through-hiking the AT, it is a spot both meaningful to the mind and spirit...a place I waited far too long to visit and I place I soon won't forget.
Now I just have to figure out a way to get to Katahdin...
Hike Length: 2.0 miles Hike Duration: 1:30
Trailhead Temp: 70'F
Min. Elevation: 3,350' Max. Elevation: 3,782'
Total Vertical Gain: 432' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 432'