The Appalachian Trail Starts Here
Beginning of the 2,000+ mile trek to Maine's Mount Katahdin
Springer Mountain in southern Fannin County is the start of a 2,000+ mile trek to Maine's Mount Katahdin known as the Appalachian Trail. As the trail follows the eastern ridge of the Appalachian Mountains it passes through 14 states, and although the slogan is "Maine to Georgia," most people hike the trail the other way, Georgia to Maine. Georgia's mild climate plays a role in this, since hikers like to start the 6 month trek in April. Another reason: the toughest part of the trail, in New Hampshire and Maine is saved for last, when hikers are in condition to handle it.
Georgia has nearly eighty miles of the AT running from Springer Mountain on the Fannin-Gilmer line to Bly Gap, where the trail enters North Carolina. Some excellent backpacking adventures await those who decide to hike the Georgia portion of this National Scenic Trail.
Access to the starting point of the Appalachian Trail is in southern Fannin County at Springer Mountain. From Blue Ridge, take Aska Road 13.5 miles until it dead ends into Newport Road. Turn right on Newport Road, go 4.5 miles until it dead ends into Doublehead Gap. Turn right on Doublehead Gap and go 2 miles to FS Road 42 (on the left). Turn left and go approximately 6.5 to 7 miles to the parking area on your left. A short hike from the parking lot (across the street) leads to the summit.
A junction of the Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail, located on FS Road 58 on Noontootla Creek. You can also start a 3.7 mile hike to Springer Mountain from Three Forks. From Blue Ridge, go south on Aska Road to the end. Turn right onto Newport Road, go 4.5 miles to end. Turn left onto Doublehead Gap Road, cross a concrete bridge, where the road will become dirt/gravel. Continue .3 miles, just past the church and cemetery you will turn right onto dirt/gravel Forest Service Road 58. Drive a scenic 5.3 miles to the Three Forks area. There will be a hikers crossing sign. From here you can hike across the bridge for the 3.7 mile hike to Springer Mountain, the start of the Appalachian Trail.
Long Creek Falls
The trail head is on your left as you drive in, opposite of Noontootla Creek which you will see with the trail bridge crossing it on your right. It starts as a gradual hike alongside Long Creek. There are three short ascents before reaching the blue blazed side trail to the falls, total hike is 1.1 miles.
There are three day-use parking areas covering the Fannin County section of the Appalachian Trail, two on FS 42 (Springer Mountain and Hightower Gap) and on FS 58 at Three Forks.
A Word to the Wise …
Be prepared for wilderness. Some roads are rough. Please pack in all you will need and pack out all your trash. The rule of the forest is “Leave No Trace.” If you build a fire, never leave it unattended. Use good judgment when hiking, particularly around waterfalls where rocks are often wet, moss covered and slippery. If hiking during hunting season, wear a brightly colored vest. The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare for the trip. Knowledge of the area, weather, terrain, limitations of your body, plus common sense can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.