“The unofficial southern start to the Appalachian Trail beginning at Amicalola Falls State Park.”
— Dan Timko
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Waterfall
The Approach Trail connects Amicalola Falls State Park to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain. For many, this is where their journey to Maine begins.
The trail departs from the trailhead located just above the crest of the falls, at the same trailhead for the Len Foote Hike Inn
Trail, which forks right after roughly a third of a mile on a green-blazed trail. The Approach Trail forks left and is marked with blue blazes from the start until it meets Springer, where it turns to the white blazes of the AT.
The trail soon exits the Amicalola State Park boundary and enters the Chattahoochee National Forest. The trail gains elevation steadily over its entire length, with constant climbs and descents throughout. Most of the route is through thick forest, with gorgeous views popping up through clearings along the way.
At about 4.25 miles, the Len Foote Hike Inn
Trail intersects back with the Approach Trail. The Len Foote Hike Inn
is roughly 1 mile down this trail off of the Approach Trail.
At 4.9 miles, the trail crosses Nimblewill Gap and a gravel road. There is a small plaque here commemorating the crash of a small plane in 1968.
After Nimblewill, you climb for a few hundred feet to Black Mountain. You'll then descend into Black Gap. Here, you'll find an AT shelter and another path to a seasonally available water source. This is the only shelter on the Approach Trail, although there are numerous campsites.
The final section of this trail is roughly 1.5 miles and climbs close to 500 ft in elevation. At the summit, you'll find some fantastic views as well as two plaques recognizing the official start to the Appalachian Trail.