Trekking

Georgia1Northern Georgia, known for its towering waterfalls and gorgeous rugged mountains, is the adventure traveler’s perfect playground. Cyclists come from all over the country to ride the winding mountain roads and race in the Six Gap Century & Three Gap Fifty bike races. There are more than 11,200 feet of vertical climbing over the 104 mile course with elevations for the six gaps ranging from 1,400 feet to 3,460 feet. Hikers also come from near and far to climb Springer Mountain, the starting point of the Appalachian Trail. Section hiking the Appalachian Trail was the reason for my most recent visit to Northern Georgia.

After months of planning and conditioning, I was finally ready to realize my goal of section hiking the Appalachian Trail. Section hiking is hiking the 2,200 mile trail in sections, rather than spending six months or longer to hike the entire trail from end to end without interruption. For the next four days, it would be just me and the trail. I couldn’t find any friends or family crazy enough to join me on this adventure, so I would be traveling solo. One of the biggest challenges for section-hikers is arranging transportation. Public transportation is often scarce along the trail itself. The nearest bus station may be 10, 20, or more miles away from the beginning and end of your hike. Airports and train stations can be even further. This was the case in Northern Georgia. The Hiker Hostel, tucked away in the picturesque mountain town of Dahlonega, offered a perfect solution, both a comfortable place to stay and shuttle service to and from the trail as well.

The Hiker Hostel is more than a place for hungry and exhausted hikers and cyclists to rest a bit. It also gives them a taste of home. The hostel is a log home with just under 4000 square feet of living space, and sits on a little over three acres of land with panoramic mountain views all around. There are five guest rooms. Three of the rooms are bunk-style rooms and can accommodate four people each, while the other two are private rooms with a double or queen sized bed. All bed linens, pillows and blankets are supplied. Each room also has its own bathroom, stocked with bath towels, hand towels, washcloths and basic hygiene products.

The Hiker Hostel is unlike any other bed & breakfast you’ve stayed at in the sense that it is totally optimized for hiker comfort and convenience. The main level has a common dining room and entertainment room for hanging out and watching television or chatting with fellow guests. The basement contains a second area for watching television, a hiker fridge, laundry facilities and dryers for hiking boots. The third level contains bedrooms and a loft area where guests can use a computer with internet access to check email and communicate with friends and family back home.

Josh and Leigh Saint, the owners of the Hiker Hostel, run a tight, but relaxed ship, and have years of experience catering to the needs of long distance hikers. Both are Appalachian Trail thru-hikers from 2000. Josh and Leigh are an excellent source of information when it comes to the Appalachian Trail or hiking in general. This is a great place to stop in for a gear check if you are a new hiker or an experienced hiker attempting your first Appalachian Trail hike. I thought I had done my homework and packed my backpack perfectly. Josh took one look at my pack and said that if I went out on the trail with the pack like that, I would surely be in pain the end of the first day. He made some adjustments to my pack, explaining the reasons behind the adjustments along the way. I was amazed by how much better my pack felt after the adjustments had been made. I would encourage all thru-hikers and section hikers to make the Hiker Hostel their first stop.

The Hiker Hostel also runs relatively inexpensive shuttles in the area which is very important to hikers. They will pick up hikers from the Atlanta Airport or the North Springs Marta train station. They will also shuttle hikers to and from various road crossings along the Appalachian Trail, making this a great base camp for hiking in the surrounding mountains. Rates: Bunk – $17/person Private – $40 based on double occupancy All overnight stays include breakfast Josh & Leigh (770)312-7342 hikerhostel@yahoo.com

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