Here is a little history of the Appalachian Trail.Â The Appalachian Trail begins in Georgia at
Springer Mountain and leaves the Peach State 79 miles later at Bly Gap. The
rugged, often rocky terrain reaches a height of more than 4400 feet and never
dips below 2500 feet. The high point of the trail is at Blood Mountain (4,461
ft.) while the low point is Dicks Creek Gap (2,675 ft.) Access to the beginning
of the Appalachian Trail is by foot from Amicalola Falls State Park.
Springer Mountain sign - The conservation movement in
America was launched from Teddy Roosevelt's "Bully Pulpit" shortly
after the turn of the 20th century. In the northeast numerous proposals had
been made prior to 1921 to create a "super" trail.Â It began to move towards reality with the
creation of the Appalachian Trail Conference. The proposed route was extended
to run from Maine to Georgia, originally to "Cohutta" Mountain. Since
little was known by the developers about the North Georgia mountains they
planned the trail from maps. Roy Ozmer, woodsman and friend of Georgia Ranger
Arthur Woody was put in charge of exploring the area from Virginia to Georgia.
These men felt that Mount Oglethorpe, east of Jasper, was a better choice for
the end of the Appalachian Trail.
Once the route in Georgia from Bly Gap to Mount Oglethorpe
was established, Woody assisted personally and assigned Forest Service
employees to assist in the construction which was completed in 1931. In 1937
the trail was completed with the clearing of the last 2 miles between Spaulding
and Sugarloaf Mountains in Maine. At the time the trail stretched from Mount
Katahdin in Maine's Baxter State Park to Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia. The
trail, as envisioned, was a "sky-line" trail, going from high-point
to high-point, along the highest route available.
During the next few years the trail fell into disrepair
because of hurricanes, war and neglect. In 1938 a hurricane that swept up the
coast did heavy damage to America's "First Trail." The connection of
the Skyline Drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the 1940's displaced a section
of the trail 120 miles long. Slowly, portions of the trail were being reclaimed
In the early 1950's interest renewed in the trail. The
designation of the Appalachian Trail as a National Scenic Trail was a long
political battle lasting 15 years, ending with President Lyndon Johnson signing
the National Trails System Act in 1968. This act, originally intended to
protect the land near the Appalachian Trail was rewritten to include any
footpath designated as a National Scenic Trail. Today "America's
Trail" and others in the National Scenic Trail System, with few
exceptions, are on land that is federally protected.
From its start 8 miles north of popular Amicalola Falls on
Springer Mountain, the Appalachian Trail winds north past mountains with names
like Blood, Trey and Big Cedar and through gaps named Addis, Neels and Woody.
Snow is not uncommon on the Trail beginning in October and cold weather is a
concern through April. Late fall is hunting season, so special care must be
taken during that time.
The trail is a microcosm of the natural history of the North
Georgia mountains. It follows the high eastern ridge of the Appalachian
Mountains. Much of the trail is covered with snow in the winter. Spring melts
give way to many of the wildflowers common throughout the mountains including
bloodroot, trillium, and azalea. Laurel and rhododendron "hells"
bloom in the early summer and cover much of the clear areas of the trails.
Forests are mostly second-growth hardwood with hickory, oak and poplar dominating.Â This trail is one of the most popular
attractions on the east coast.