When you are in Cumming, right in the middle of north Georgia, there are not necessarily a lot of choices in hiking for the enthusiasts that we are. You have to take the car and drive in between 1h30 and 2h to finally find some mounills (yes, they are not really mountains, but those bumps are higher than hills). We could have been satisfied with a two- or three-hour walk, but doing such a short walk for such a long drive? So, Matt found us the Appalachian Trail Approach Trail...
A nice hike, surely more interesting during summer
It's the little (very little) brother of the Appalachian Trail, the famous hiking trail going from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine. This trail stretches over 2000 miles and is generally done in 6 to 7 months...
Anyways, we do not have that amount of time and the season does not necessarily lend itself to it...
The Approach Trail is actually the trail that joins the southern departure (or arrival...) of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. It starts at Amicalola Falls and ends at the peak of Springer Mountain.
So we left early, with 3L of water, two bananas, two apples, two energy bars and dried fruit, heading for the Amicalola Falls, despite a foggy and very uncertain weather. After 1h30 of driving, the parking was in sight...as well as the small cabin located in the middle of the road, where we remembered that the parking was not free.
No one in the cabin and on it was marked that the rangers were not there, but that the $5 parking had to be put in an envelope made available and then thrown in a collecting box...
Unluckily, we only had a $ 100 bill on us (yeah, we're like that!). We then took the risk of paying a harsh fine and we started our hike by rising into the fog.
The entire hike is in the forest, climbing uphill and downhill until the final climb, where a plaque commemorates the opening of the Appalachian trail, and where several warnings advise not to camp on site because of the many bear attacks...
The sun did not show up during the day, and the landscapes often felt supernatural. Adding to that the fact that yes, in these woods, there are black bears, but also wolves and cougars. As a result, when the night began to fall and we still had three good kilometers left, there is one who hastened the pace (Lucile)!
As usual (and for Matt, who now doesn't have much of a choice, unfortunately!), I picked up all the trash found along the way, and we carried a 2kg trash bag along the last 10km. Not necessarily the most fun thing to do, but as Matt said, at least in case of an attack by any critter, I just had to throw my trash bag at its head before climbing up a tree (or more seriously, fighting with my knife).
In the end, it was a nice hike, 17 miles long (as a loop), about 1200 feet of elevation and only took 7h, without too many stops (And, yipee! No parking ticket!)
The only thing is that the landscape barely changes. Of course you will say, it is in the forest! Certainly, but even at the top of the highest mounill, well, nothing, no landscape on which to have a point of view!
That said, the forest itself is quite varied, passing from pines to oaks and laurels. In some places you can almost feel a presence, and it is fairly easy to imagine that, between colonization, the Native Americans and the Civil War, these Georgia mounill's have seen many great and terrible things happen.
Doing this hike during spring or summer might be much more fun, especially from a faunistic point of view (two chipmunks and ten squirrels, we could have done better!) !
Here are two websites to help you preparing this hike: