How to Get To Springer Mountain
Originally published 1/10/2017; last updated 1/27/2022 by Penina Satlow.
“Where’s Springer Mountain? You mean the Southern Terminus of the AT? That’s easy… it’s in Georgia. In the woods. Actually wait I don’t know.” Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Luckily, this particular trailhead happens to be popular enough that there are quite a few ways to get there…. it just takes some piecing together.
**Important Note for 2022 and beyond**
More than ever, the ATC strongly recommends NOBO hikers begin their journey at Amicalola State Park rather than driving the dirt road to the Springer Trailhead.
Both the eastern and western routes to Springer can be hazardous in winter, and conditions can be poor during the spring freeze/thaw cycle, especially during wet years. Both routes can develop deep ruts that can turn into a quagmire that creates hazards, especially for passenger cars. The more traffic, the deeper the ruts, and the more difficulty the Forest Service has re-grading them.
There is also the concern that on busy days, the Springer Mountain parking lot fills up and cars line the narrow forest service road in both directions, creating safety hazards.
The ATC is now encouraging AT thru-hikers to start at Amicalola Falls State Park instead of Springer Mountain. Hikers can avoid poor road conditions or getting vehicles stuck, as well as avoid contributing to worsening road conditions and clogged parking.
Another factor the ATC has brought up is that by starting at the Springer parking lot and hiking to the summit and back, you are traveling a popular section of trail twice, in effect doubling the traffic. Taking the approach trail one-way from Amicalola Falls State Park can help reduce the foot traffic in addition to car traffic.
Hikers starting at Amicalola Falls State Park can drive on paved roads and at lower elevations, they can pick up their hangtag and participate in a brief thru-hiker orientation, as well as learning about trail conditions and updates. They can weigh their pack one final time and sign the register, and finally, get a photo under the stone arch before hiking past beautiful falls.
1) Amicalola State Park: Hikers starting here will complete the Approach Trail, which is about eight miles heading north to the summit of Springer.
2) Springer Mountain Parking Area: One mile up Springer and back to the parking lot. Seriously though, see above.
The cost of getting to Springer varies entirely on your trip strategy. Hikers who plan to utilize a shuttle service should budget anywhere from $40-$100 for the ride. Factors include pickup location, number of people traveling, and what service you use. MARTA, Greyhound, and AMTRAK tickets will run between $10-$40 depending on distance of trip.
*Recommended: Amicalola State Park: 418 Amicalola Falls Lodge Rd, Dawsonville, GA 30534
Springer Mountain Parking Area:34.637467, -84.195317 // N34 38.248 W84 11.719
Atlanta International Airport (ATL) (89 miles south of Springer)
Nearest Town with Public Transportation:
Gainesville (48 miles south of Springer)
Hilton Garden Inn
Nearest Decent-Sized Town:
Dahlonega (22 miles south of Springer)
Barefoot Hills (Formerly Hiker Hostel)
Holiday Inn Express
Getting Anywhere from the Atlanta Airport
To reach Gainesville from the Atlanta airport, you will need to take the MARTA to the Greyhound stop, or airport shuttle to the AMTRAK station. If you have a bigger shuttle budget, many shuttle services will pick you up from the Atlanta Airport or the North Springs MARTA stop.
- Airport → North Springs MARTA Stop: North Springs MARTA is a popular place to be picked up from shuttle services. (See below.) MARTA provides bus and train services to the Atlanta area and can be found at Ground Transportation at the Atlanta airport. $2.50 per ride, plus $2 for a Breeze Card or $1 for a single use ticket. Includes transfers.
- Airport → Gainesville by Greyhound: Take the MARTA from the airport to Garnett Station. The nearest Greyhound depot will be on Forsyth Street. From there, you’ll take the Greyhound to the Gainesville stop. The bus leaves once a day at 8:25 am. $25-50.
- Airport → Gainesville by AMTRAK: Take the MARTA from the airport to Arts Center. From there take the #110 bus to the AMTRAK station. From there, take the train to the Gainesville station. Train leaves every day at 11:29 pm. $14.
Have your credit card handy in case services want payment over the phone. Call early to make sure you can get the shuttle on the same day your flight gets to Atlanta. Nearly all of the listed services will pick you up from the MARTA North Springs station, Gainesville Greyhound or AMTRAK depots, or the Atlanta airport. More shuttle services can also be found in the comments on FarOut.
Richard Anderson: Pickups at Atlanta Airport, Gainesville public depots, and many points along the AT. Will shuttle to points in North Carolina, and offers options for slackpacking and section hikers. Accepts emails, texts, and calls.
Barefoot Hills (formerly Hiker Hostel): Offering shuttle services from the North Springs MARTA station all the way to trail crossings along the Georgia section of the AT.
Suches Hiker Shuttle: Based out of Suches, Georgia. Dogs allowed. Call or text at 678-967-9510.
Survivor Dave will pick you up at transportation depots or North Spring MARTA stop. Will not pick up from Gainesville AMTRAK or bus terminal.
678-469-0978. Call between 8am-8pm EST. No texts. No email reservations.
Ron Brown: Based out of Ellijay, Georgia. Responds to email, Facebook and Instagram messages. Text for quicker response.
Sally and Joyce: They live outside Hiawassee and can be reached before 7pm EST at 706-896-9339 or at [email protected].
AT Hiker Shuttle. Bret Eady. AT class of 2017 SOBO. Call/texts at 404-569-8776 or email at [email protected]. Operates anywhere in Georgia.
Jeff Moon. Call/text 24/7 at 706-994-2307. Dog friendly. Operates anywhere in Georgia
The Further Shuttle: Shuttle services throughout Georgia. Overnight stays at their hostel near the airport. Small resupply with canister fuel. Call/text. Donald: 772-321-0905. Mary: 706-400-9105. Email at [email protected]. Commercially insured.
Dahlonega to Amicalola State Park
From Dahlonega, take Hwy. 52 West about 20 miles to Amicalola Falls State Park. Parking is available at the visitor’s center.
The Hike: The trail departs from the iconic arch and follows blue blazes past the towering waterfall and through the state park, intersecting with several other trails. There are a few shelters along the way. You will reach Springer after about eight miles of hiking. Continue north to begin your journey.
Dahlonega to Springer Mountain Parking Area
*NOTE:* User input has mentioned poor conditions for this route. Seriously. Start at Amicalola.
Head west on Highway 52 for about nine miles. Turn right by a sign for Nimblewill Baptist Church. After about two miles, turn right onto Forest Service Road 28-1 by a sign for Nimblewill Gap. In about two miles, the road forks and you head left onto Forest Service Road 77 and drive for about five miles to Windingstair Gap. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 42 and drive for about two miles before you see the parking area on your right.
Alternately, drivers can stay on 52, turn right onto Roy Road, then right onto Doublehead Gap Rd.
Keep in mind that weather and changing road conditions can alter routes at any point. It’s a rough road, so be sure to do your research before heading out. For alternate driving directions, check out the Forest Service page here.
The Hike: From the Springer Mountain Parking Area, follow the white blazes south for about one mile to the summit of Springer. Turn around, and head back to the parking lot, wave at the people who are probably still standing there, and continue north.
There you have it! Hopefully, nobody’s hike was ever canceled because they couldn’t find Springer Mountain, but you never know. If we left out any helpful info or your favorite shuttle service, feel free to leave it in the comments.
Featured image: Graphic design by Jillian Verner (@yourstrulyjillian).
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