The Hiker’s Guide to Springer Mountain

Explore Georgia’s most famous mountain in this sprawling adventure wonderland.

Springer Mountain is the world-famous launching point for America’s most legendary adventure: thru-hiking the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail (AT). The AT extends from Georgia to Maine in an epic traverse along the full length of the Appalachian Mountains. The good news? You don’t have to hike nearly that far to get a sense of the beauty of the range—or the limitless adventure the Springer Mountain area has to offer. 


Springer Mountain lies within the Ed Jenkins National Recreation Area, a subset of the Chattahoochee Oconee National Forest that was first established in 1991. It was designated as the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail in 1958. The Springer Mountain area is part of the historic homeland of the Yuchi/Uchee (S’atsoyaha) and Cherokee (Tsalaguwetiyi) peoples. 


Springer Mountain is a year-round adventure epicenter. Summer tends to be the most popular time, as the peak’s 3,782-foot elevation provides a welcome respite from Atlanta’s sweltering humidity. For a quieter experience, come in spring or fall: Trillium, azalea, and other flowers begin to bloom during April in May, and foliage peaks in late October. 

And if you really want the place to yourself? Visit in winter, when trailheads are empty and leafless trees reveal new views across the Southern Appalachians. (Snow and ice are possible when temps hover near freezing, so bring traction and plenty of layers.) 

Getting There

From the Kennesaw area, hop on I-575 North. Exit near Tate to get on Hwy 53 E. Follow Hwy 53 E for about 12 miles before turning north along the Steve Tate Highway toward Amicalola. You can find parking at Amicalola Falls State Park, or along Forest Service Road 42 farther north (the parking area’s coordinates are 34.637522, -84.195078).

Recommended Hikes 

The Springer Mountain area hosts a lifetime of hikes, but these four classics are all local favorites for good reason. 

Amicalola Falls

Amicalola Falls is one of North Georgia’s best-known natural wonders. The crowds reflect its popularity, but it’s a short hike (just 2 miles) and well worth doing. Park at the southern end of Amicalola Falls State Park at the parking area on Top of the Falls Road. From there, head north, descending nearly 1,000 vertical feet deep into the forested gorge. You can retrace your steps to exit, or cross the falls and keep hiking counter-clockwise to make a loop via the West Ridge Falls Access trail. 

Appalachian Approach Trail

This 8.5-mile trail section is the traditional approach to the start of the Appalachian Trail. You can knock it out in a day if 2,200 feet of elevation gain sounds breezy, or you can bring backpacking gear and camp at the Black Mountain or Springer Mountain lean-tos near the summit. (Spring visitors beware: This is the start of thru-hiking season, so these shelters may be full between March and April.) 

Springer Mountain Summit

If you don’t have time to do the traditional Appalachian Approach, you can gain Springer’s iconic summit from the parking area on FS-42. Head across the road to gain the AT, then follow the trail south to the mountaintop. The whole out-and-back is about 1.8 miles. 

Three Forks Loop

This 4.2-mile loop connects the Benton Mackaye and Appalachian trails and crosses a unique confluence of three streams. Start at the aptly named Three Forks Trailhead and head south along the AT. Pick up the Benton Mackaye trail after about 2.3 miles to circle back to the parking lot. 

Other Activities 

Springer Mountain may be a hiker’s paradise, but there’s plenty of other fun to be had, too. 


Two renowned long trails—the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail and the 300-mile Benton Mackaye Trail—cross through this zone, making it a haven for backpackers.


Amicalola Falls State Park Campground is perfect for family camping. More experienced campers may look to the Jones Creek dispersed camping area for a slightly wilder option. 

Mountain Biking

The Jake and Bull Mountain Trail System has over 36 miles of multi-use trails, which are open to both equestrians and mountain bikers. 


Anglers will find trout and other fish biting at the Frank Gross Recreation Area and at the Deep Hole Recreation Area. (Up-to-date fishing license required.) 

Local Tip

If you visit the Springer Mountain area in October, be sure to stop at the Elljay Apple Festival on the way home. It’s an iconic community event—and a great spot to stock up on cider, pies, and other goodies. 

More Info:

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.