Kick-Off the AT Hiking Season at Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge
Every year, hundreds of hiking aficionados gather at Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge for its annual Appalachian Trail Kick-Off Weekend. As one of the primary locations for commencing the 2,193-mile journey from the trail’s southern terminus of Springer Mountain in Georgia, to Mount Katahdin in Maine, passing through Amicalola Falls State Park is a rite of passage for many thru-hikers.
Just 8.5 miles from Springer Mountain, Amicalola Fall State Park & Lodge has numerous amenities that make it the ideal starting location for the brave wayfarers who attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail each spring. One of the highlights of the hiking season is always the Appalachian Trail Kick-Off Weekend.
Amicalola Falls State Park has a long history with the AT. At the time of the trial’s completion in 1937, the Appalachian Trail ran through the park’s grounds, but was diverted in the late 1950s due to concerns of commercialization near Oglethorpe Mountain. However, the proximity to Springer Mountain and the development of Amicalola Falls as at state park made it easy for the park to maintain its affiliation with the legendary trail.
As the number of hikers utilizing the park each spring increased steadily over the years, the park staff organized an official AT hiking season kick-off event held the first weekend in March. The 3-day celebration – set for March 6-8, 2020 – has grown to include hundreds of vendors and hikers of all experience levels, not just those beginning their journey. The free event only requires $5 Georgia State Park entry pass for each vehicle or a Georgia State Annual Park Pass.
While fellowship between hiking enthusiasts and park naturalists occurs as they trade trail tales and share advice, education and exposure to hiking products and initiatives play a role as well. Each day is set to feature presentations on topics ranging from hiking without a trace to dehydrating food stores and utilizing solar power and staying found on the AT. Industry vendors are also on hand throughout the weekend displaying the latest hiking tech and gear or representing some of the most well-respected organizations devoted to preserving the Appalachian Trail.
As the weekend ends, thru-hikers check-in at the Visitors Center, weigh their packs, and say their goodbyes. The iconic archway at the foot of the park’s Approach Trail is a must-snap photo op and marks the start of each hiker’s journey.
Plan You Stay for the AT Kick-Off Weekend
Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge has the perfect lodging for every type of guest attending the kick-off weekend always slated for the first weekend in March. The 57-room lodge with mountain top views is always an excellent choice for those seeking the comforts of a North Georgia mountain resort, while the 14 Georgia state park cabins are ideal for groups and organizations looking for quality time together outside the kick-off’s slated activities.
For attendees who are preparing for a long journey – or for those who want to get into an AT state of mind – a special ‘Tent City’ area is reserved each year on the park grounds. Set on flat ground alongside Little Amicalola Creek and close to the Visitor Center, Tent City allows hopeful thru-hikers to test out their gear for a night or two and meet trail mates around the nighttime campfire.
Call the Lodge at 706-344-1500 to make reservations for rooms, cabins, or a campsite. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a site in Tent City, which costs $12 per night for a maximum 3-person tent.