To some people, where I went this spring would be as holy as the ground Moses stood on by the burning bush. I was at the Southern Terminus of The Appalachian Trail, Springer Mountain. For hikers, this is the pilgrimage to Mecca, the ultimate outdoor adventure
Springer Mountain is only about 13 miles from Black Ankle Lodge, half of the distance is paved road the other half graded gravel. I had to check on a cabin down in Ellijay that morning, and on taking the shortcut to the Aska Adventure Area, I had seen the sign to Springer Mountain in my travels.
I said what the heck and ran up to the top of Springer Mountain. What the heck was the right description for my trip, I kicked in the 4-wheel drive, because I was feeling a little reckless, sliding on the curves and figured I better have the traction in case I do something stupid. You don’t need 4-wheel drive to travel to the Springer Mountain Parking Lot, there are lots of scarier roads in Blue Ridge leading to cabins, than this road.
I stopped at the information sign, took my two pictures, and took off on the Appalachian Trail, to find the Southern Terminus of the AT, taking off in the wrong direction.
As I looked around from the parking lot, I spotted the freshly painted blaze marking the trail, off we go! Got my handy GPS, camera, first aid kit, cell phone and jacket (left common sense in the truck). My first indicator of a problem was a sign, which way do I go!
It didn’t matter that I didn’t know where I was going, I had my GPS! I looked at the terrain map and took off on the Benton MacKaye Trail. After a quarter mile the trail started going down, wrong way! Back to the AT and on my way to . . . well this one started down too and led to a campground. So after a short hike, another u turn and back again to the sign. At the sign, I was confused, did I remember the books saying the outcrop was on the AT or the BM? Reading about both at the same time had me confused. So I headed back to the parking lot.
Staring at the information map, it found Springer Mountain on it and noticed it was south of the parking lot, and I had headed North on the trail! But where was the southbound trail? On the other side of the road, I sheepishly headed across the road and hopefully on the right track this time.
From the parking lot to the top of Springer Mountain is 0.9 miles. It is not that strenuous, if you have hiked up to the top of Brasstown Bald, that is more strenuous than this hike, although you are going up hill the whole way on rocks.
Going the right way now, I really starting enjoying the hike, listening to the Pileated Woodpecker in the distance, watching all the plants burst out in leaf and bloom, even though it was overcast and raining, there was nowhere else I wanted to be.
Finishing taking my trophy pictures, I headed back down the mountain, to get in my truck and head back into town. As I was about to pull out onto the road, I saw a backpacker lying on the edge of the road. As he saw me, he jumped up, yelled at me, doubled over and threw up, and fell back down again. “Do you need some help? Do you need a ride?”, I yelled. Well, this is another story, for another time.
There are plenty of things to do in Blue Ridge and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains while you stay in your vacation rental from Sundance Cabin Rentals, come stay with us!
Driving Directions to Springer Mountain
Here are the coordinates to Springer Mountain 34°37′36″N 84°11′37″W. There are two ways to get to the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The first is to hike from Amicalola Falls State Park, from here there is approximately an 8 mile hike on an access trail to get to the start of the Appalachian Trail. The other way is to drive to Springer Mountain.
From Ellijay – head east for approx 12 miles on SR 52 from the 515. Turn left on Big Creek Rd. Big Creek Rd. will change names to Doublehead Gap Road, continue on this road until reaching Forest Road 42 (watch for sign to Springer Mtn.) Turn right on FR 42 and follow to parking lot. From the parking lot, you will hike up 0.9 miles to the official Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
From Blue Ridge – Take Aska Rd. 12 miles to end. Turn Right on Newport Rd and follow to end. Turn Right on Doublehead Gap Rd. and go several miles to FS 42 on left (watch for sign).