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  1. #21

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    I asked this same question myself about a month ago. I'm only doing a section hike this year. 30 days as far as I can go. IF I get to the hostel early enough in the day I MAY hike the 8 miles approach trail, spend my planned evening at the hostel and then "start" my 30 days the next morning by hiking the less than 1 mile to the summit and and then heading north. If I don't have time the day before to do the whole 8 mile approach trail I may just "wander about" a bit. I have a limited number of days to hike and prefer to use my time on the actual AT. When my husband and I do our thru we will likely do the approach trail. However, the approach trail IS NOT part of the AT. Some will suggest that if you are willing to skip it then you may just skip other parts of the AT. But again, it's NOT part of the AT. Do it or don't do it. Completely up to you.
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  2. #22
    Registered User ShelterLeopard's Avatar
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    Do whatever floats your boat. I skipped it because I started my (intended) thru on a snowy as heck and icy day, and the awesome guy who dropped us off at Springer offered to take us to the summit on the dirt road. Turned out that a prius is no match for the icy mud, so we ended up getting out halfway and doing our own version of an approach trail. I didn't feel like I missed out on the approach trail.
    2010 AT NoBo Thru "attempt" (guess 1,700 miles didn't quite get me all the way through ;) )
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  3. #23

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    I don't see the point of skipping it.

    Heck I'm going south bound in a couple months going for broke hiking over katahdin via helon Taylor to descend the hunt trail. No pack left at katahdin stream. Legging full supplies over the knifes edge.

    I just think it is kind of silly to question the approach I mean it's 4 hours or less

  4. #24
    Registered User Grampie's Avatar
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    During my thru I choose to hike the approach trail. I started up around 8:00. It was a nice feeling to finally start after passing through the arch at Amicalola state park.
    After walking for a hour and a half I took a break at Frosty Mountain. Hear I was. A 65 year old man walking in the Georgia woods alone, Just starting my great adventure and already tired and aching. Thoughts of quitting were on my mind, but I made a promise to stay with it for at least a week. I thought of that often especially when I had finished and stood at the sign on Katahdin and how glad I was that I had hiked the approach trail, and didn't go back home.
    Grampie-N->2001

  5. #25
    Registered User KDogg's Avatar
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    I hiked the approach trail and stayed at Springer Mountain Shelter the first night. It was a beautiful hike and I liked starting from Springer in the morning. This really is a personal choice though and it is your first decision based on the "Hike Your Own Hike" philosophy. Take your pick and don't worry about explaining yourself.

  6. #26
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    Personal preference. I enjoyed the approach trail myself.

    More importantly, is one logistically easier for you than the other? I got dropped off at Amicolola primarily so that my buddy's wife didn't have to drive up the forest service road to Springer.
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  7. #27
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    Up to you... but I figured what is another 8 miles out of over 2,000??? No biggie! Plus, it put me in the mindset. (However, I do understand that some might want to do not a mile more....lol).

  8. #28
    In the shadows AfterParty's Avatar
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    I will do it going down not up!
    Hiking the AT is “pointless.” What life is not “pointless”? Is it not pointless to work paycheck to paycheck just to conform?.....I want to make my life less ordinary. AWOL

  9. #29

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    I haven't done either yet....
    logically either way makes perfectly great sense, but the way my brain works, everything needs a beginning, just as much as it needs an end.
    Unless you have a helicopter, you can' really begin at the "official" beginning, so the logical beginning then becomes the only choice
    ....and in my thinking the arch and welcome center seems to define it......backtracking just doesn't make sense....

  10. #30
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    back in 86 Robie Hensley parachuted on Springer. trail name Jumpstart

  11. #31

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    I always skip the falls, there's a wonderful starting point on top of the falls. Starting at Springer and backtracking back down sounds ridiculous to me, so I've always hiked half the approach.

  12. #32
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    I did the 600+ stairs on my first thru attempt. Glad I did! Those stairs were a PITA but well worth what little view I had during a tornado warning with lightning and thunder all around. Maybe that part wasn't such a great idea but.... I enjoyed the trail. It was a great starting point for my hike and I'll do it again this year on my 2nd thru attempt. I wanted to start at the infamous arch I've always seen on youtube and forums and wanted to enjoy the falls. What a great start to my trek. I enjoyed it, it's only 8 or so miles to Springer.
    - Trail name: Thumper

  13. #33

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    Much of the approach trail was the Appalachian trail when the starting point was at Mt. Oglethorpe. So some of the most famous AT thru hikes went over part of what is today the approach trail. Does anyone know if the original first 50 miles of trail went through Amicalola Falls?

    So that is reason enough to hike it. If they were to redefine the start of the trail as being Three Forks would you then drive to Three Forks and start there? The definition of the starting point seems a bit abstract to me. When you hike in that area it sure feels like the arch at the state park is the start of the trail.

    Keep in mind I have not attempted my thru hike yet, so maybe I'll feel differently when it's time to start.

  14. #34
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    Seems odd to fret over the extra miles.

    If you hike the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail, there's no "credit" for getting to the top of Monadnock in the first place or hiking down Sunapee when you're done. Not fair. Waste of time.

  15. #35
    Registered User DavidNH's Avatar
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    I've never understood this debate. You are about to embark on a 2200 mile hike, and here you are already fussing about an 8-mile blue blazed approach trail? seriously? I bet these are the folks who slack pack southward from peaks just so they don't have to climb it. Or hitch ahead. Or just can't tough it out all the way.

    Here is how the ATC could solve this problem and even improve the thru-hike experience. Start (or end depending on NB or SB) the AT at the Amicoloa Falls Visitor Center.. at the big stone arch!!

  16. #36
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Quote Originally Posted by blw2 View Post
    I haven't done either yet....
    logically either way makes perfectly great sense, but the way my brain works, everything needs a beginning, just as much as it needs an end.
    Unless you have a helicopter, you can' really begin at the "official" beginning, so the logical beginning then becomes the only choice
    ....and in my thinking the arch and welcome center seems to define it......backtracking just doesn't make sense....
    To add my two cents to the absurd "where do I start" debate: IMHO, the arch is not a logical beginning, it's an emotional beginning. A ride up the Forest Service road to within 1 mile of the start of the AT is the logical choice. Just ask Spock - he's whispering in my ear right now.

  17. #37
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    like the rest of the trail, do just enough of it to be able to talk about how tough it was and how fast you did it - keep that hitching thumb in good shape!!

  18. #38
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    If you're into A.T. history the Approach Trail, starting from the top of the falls, is the surviving remnant of the original Old AT route from 1930 to 1958 between Mt. Oglethorpe and Springer Mt. If you're not an A.T. purist, another remnant of the original 1930 Old AT route is the section of the Benton MacKaye Trail from the summit of Springer Mt. to Big Stamp Gap, where the Old AT route turned east and followed FS-42 to Gooch Gap, until the A.T. was relocated to it's current route in 1977.

  19. #39
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    I probably will not be doing the approach, but that's just me.

  20. #40
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    FWIW, the falls are the highlight of GA really.
    Catch them after day of heavy rain
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

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