This time of year there are literally hundreds, if not a few thousand that attempt a “thru-hike” on the great Appalachican Trail. The trail starts at Amicolola Falls State Park, and travels thru 13 States or (2,100 miles) until it gets to Maine. Each year many who attempt fall by the way side once they realize what a traverse and streneous trail the AT really is. The trail usually weeds out the hikers that don’t face reallity the first 30 miles. In fact, the Walasi-Yi Centerusally sends home thousands of pounds of gear each year from hikers who have said “forget this” after hiking down Blood Mountain.
The first 30 miles is actually the first 38 miles if you count the blue blazed trail leading up to the AT trailhead. This “Blue Blazed” trail starts out in the back of the Amicalola Falls Ranger Station. The trail starts out as a brutal 200 yard stair case to hell. However, it’s all up hill until you reach the top of Springer Mountain (3,500 ft). Once up on top, you will see your first “White Blaze”, and you are off to Maine.
If this is just a walk in the woods, better plan on at least a 3 night trip to Neel Gap. However, strong hikers should have no problem doing the first 30 in two nights, 3 days.
You have a few options as you do with any long distance hike. Where to camp? I camped at Stover Creek, and then Gooch Mountain Shelter. Stover Creek is a new shelter, both have pleanty of water. The hike out of Stover Creek is one of my favorites in the Georgia section of the AT. Look out for a couple of water falls that are worth stopping to experience. Once you get over Hourse Gap, and Hightower Gap, the rest is up to your own will power. Many stay at Hawk Mountain Shelter.
The biggest obsticle between you and a chance for a hot meal, and a warm bed in the Walasi-Yi-Center Bunk House, is Blood Mountain. Oh, it’s not the climb up, (although, it’s tough) it’s the climb down. Once you see the Walasi-Center on the other end of Hwy 19, you will know for sure…you just hiked 30 miles.
Check our trip report video on the first 30 miles.
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