AT Approach Trail to Hike Inn from Amicalola Falls

This trail is one of my favorites in the spring and fall.  But hiking in the summer was wonderful with the amazingly lush woods of North Georgia.  It sure didn’t hurt having so much rain this year.  The lollipop loop starts at the top of Amicalola Falls (just several hours north of Atlanta, in Dawsonville, GA) travels up hill towards Springer Mountain (the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail) approx. 4.5 miles, turns right towards Len Foote Hike Inn then back down the Hike Inn Trail to the parking area where you started.

If you haven’t visited Amicalola Falls State Park it’s a must see.  The Falls are amazing, (highest in GA) with a staircase of 604 steps, where you can see the falls up close and personal.  The AT (Appalachian Trail) is nestled inside the park, there is camping, and a lodge for overnight stays. Also they do have some trails that are ADA accessible to view the falls.

The trail is well marked with signage and markers along the way.  Right takes you towards Hike Inn and left takes you to the Approach Trail.  Either way on this loop you begin and end at the same place.  We took the Approach Trail route and started up Frosty Mountain.  This side of the loop isn’t as scenic (at least to me) as the Hike Inn side but it still has some beautiful views.  As you start you can see there are many campsites along the way and we have seen a ton of back country campers in the spring and fall at these sites.  Typically in March this trail is extremely busy with AT through hikers getting started.  But on this day, we only saw a few hikers.


The trails starts crossing a paved road, then with a set of switchbacks and also crossing several gravel road.  It is a steady up hill climb with a few flat-ish grassy areas to catch your breath.  There are several creek crossings with wooden bridges, moss covered stepping stone rocks and fording several more small streams.


Did I mention the Lush vegetation!  Wow it was so peaceful and really not that hot considering it was going to be over 90 degrees in Atlanta.  There was a steady breeze, and we were very thankful.  The wild flowers always amazes me, they just spring up with a “good morning” kind of look, or a “keep going there is more to see” swagger.

We stopped several times to have a snack and take a break.  The first mile always seems the hardest (I think I have mentioned that before haha) but afterwards the rythm kicks in and we hardly speak just the peaceful steady push up the mountain.

After reaching the turning point to Hike Inn (4.5 miles), is the coolest Mountain Laurel forest (especially in the spring).  Chris even commented that he likes this part the best.  It’s only a little less than a mile to Hike Inn after making this turn.  Now Hike Inn, wow it’s an amazing place for hikers to stay the night (with all inclusive food).  It’s totally off the grid (hike in, pack out) kind of place.  They have super clean bathroom, toilets and rustic bunk bed rooms.  We have stayed here many times and loved each and every time!

If you are day hiking like we were, they welcome you to use their bathrooms (THANK YOU!) fill your water bottles and eat your lunch on their porches.  They do not allow dog inside their property (we did take Creed up once and he stayed on the porch with us).

Bathroom at Hike Inn (from a previous visit)

We filling our bellies on peanut butter sandwiches, hummus, crackers, cherries, and tons of water, we were ready to head back down.  Don’t let this fool you it’s really not “all” down hill.



After breaking my leg skiing several years ago, my knee consistently hurts downhill.  So I donned a brace and off we went.  The water crossings on this leg of the trail are very pretty with loads of picturesque views.  There are also some wonderful Mountain Laurel Forest heading out.  The trail has post markers along the way and we passed several families heading up to the Hike Inn.  It seems this side of the trail is drastically going up or down.  We stopped at several log benches to takes a breather and have a snack.  With the temperatures rising we were covered with sweat and needed to replenish our bodies with hydration, salt and food.

This route is very familiar to us and could almost remember each turn we were making.  Reaching the end of the trail was exciting and thankful we could conquer another mountain.



  • 11.23 Miles Lolipop Loop
  • Starts at the top of Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville GA
  • Moderate Hike
  • Elevation Change 2259 ft
  • Time 6 hours
  • Take a ton of water, I carried 2 liters up and filled at the Hike Inn (still had .5 liters left) another liter down (summertime)
  • Take food


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  All opinions are my own.

Life Straw – One of the best Safety items!

Emergency Blanket – I always carry one even on a short day hike.

Timbuk2 Phone Case – This case can attach vertical or horizontal to your pack, belt or pocket.

Osprey Backpack Kyte – I love the wide waist straps, lots of pockets for storage, can tighten the straps to make an easy day pack or loosen for a full overnight pack. Standard Osprey water reservoir, integrated rain cover, and separate sleeping bag compartment.

Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir – 3 liters

First Aid Kit – small, perfect for day hiking


Hike Stats

Directions to Trail Head:

Follow GA-400 N/US-19 N and Hwy 53 W to Shoal Creek Rd/State Spur 136 in Dawsonville
29 min (23.5 mi)
Take GA-136 WState Rte 342 and GA-52 W to Amicalola Falls State Park Rd



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