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[at-l] Springer Mountain GA to Fontana Dam NC - Part 3


Springer Mountain GA to Fontana Dam NC - Part 3

< Part 2 ended at Mile 66.8 - Dicks Creek Gap (US Route 76) >

Mile 71.1 - Plumorchard Gap Shelter

This is a very popular shelter with thru-hikers coming off of a zero day in

Mile 72.4 - Blue Ridge Gap (forest road)

Crossing with dirt/gravel forest road.  Generally lots of trash.  You can
get a vehicle in here, but it requires a high clearance vehicle and an
adventurous spirit...

Mile 75.4/75.6 - GA/NC border/Bly Gap

Here you finish the trail in Georgia and pass into North Carolina.  Hold
your "one-state-down-and-only-thirteen-to-go" celebration for another
quarter mile until you reach Bly Gap.  There is a very unique tree at the
gap, worthy of a photo or two.  Plenty of tenting available.  Hiking the
last mile or two into Bly Gap, and the next mile or two out of Bly Gap, are
rugged.  I wrote in my 1997 journal, "Georgia did not give up easily, and
North Carolina did not offer a warm reception." < journal can be found at
http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Trails/4404/ >...

Mile 82.4 - Deep Gap  (Forest Service Road 71)

The forest service road ends in a large parking area where the trail comes
out of the forest.  Overflowing trash cans alongside parking area.  Water
and tenting down a blue blaze to the left.  A group of angels from Florida
set up camp here every year (early/mid April) and feed the hikers.  The road
to the gap is navigable...

*** All of the roads in the Standing Indian Wilderness do not open until
weather permits, generally mid/late March.  Monitor the website
http://www.smnet2.net/users/nhc/alerts.html  for road opening dates...

*** Between Deep Gap and Mooney Gap (mile 95.5), there are numerous tenting
opportunities.  Also there are many side trails that wind through these
hills, offering an adventurous hiker a wealth of blue blaze opportunities...

Mile 84.8 - Standing Indian Mountain

For 1.4 miles, from Deep Gap to Standing Indian Mountain, you have a
surprisingly easy 1200' ascent, which you may be sharing with loads of day
hikers.  A short blue blaze will get you to the summit of Standing Indian.
Good tenting available...

Mile 95.5 - Mooney Gap (Forest Service Road 83)

Gravel/dirt forest road with some traffic (weather permitting, of course).
The opportunity exists to thumb out if there is an emergency.  Nice little
tenting are with fire ring beside the road...

Mile 96.8 - Bear Pen Trail (Forest Service Road 67)

The trail kisses the forest service a couple of times in this area.  Where
the trail meets up with the blue blazed Bear Pen Trail, you have a decision
to make.  If the weather is bad, hike the road that by-passes Albert
Mountain (the road becomes the Appalachian Trail during bad weather).  If
you are fatigued, cross the road, find a flat spot and pitch your tent.
This is necessary because just ahead is your first hand-over-hand rock
scramble.  Do not underestimate this quarter mile rock scramble up Albert
Mountain, it will kick your butt...

Mile 97.1 - Albert Mountain

Your rock scramble has its rewards.  The top of Albert Mountain offers
spectacular views, and a fire tower to view them from.  You may bump into
quite a few day hikers, and a good bit of trash...

Mile 97.3 - Blue blaze to parking area

Turn left along overgrown forest road to get to the Albert Mountain parking

Mile 103.0/103.1 - Rock Gap Shelter/Rock Gap (Forest Service Road 67)

Rock Gap Shelter is very close to the road crossing at Rock Gap.  Generally,
this is a situation that promotes misuse, over-use, and lots of trash.  But
this shelter has a very loving caretaker that visits often (and leaves
Mountain Dews).  There is a small parking lot at Rock Gap where the trail
skirts the paved forest service road.  Some hikers confuse this gap with
Wallace Gap, which is another 0.6 trail miles ahead.  A blue blaze trail to
the right descends to the Wasilik Poplar, the second largest poplar tree in
the United States.  Turn left down the paved road 1.5 miles to reach
Standing Indian Campground which is managed by the forest service.  If you
are going to spend time hiking the many trails in and around the Standing
Indian Wilderness, this campground is where you want to set up camp.  If you
are hiking the Appalachian Trail, do not go here...

Mile 103.7 - Wallace Gap (Old US Route 64)

Turn left down the paved road 1.2 miles to Rainbow Springs Campground.  This
is a private campground that is friendly to hikers.  The lore of this place
is legendary.  Every hiker leaves this place either loving it or hating it,
there seems to be no middle ground.  The owners may be friendly, or
exasperating.  The facilities may be clean, or may be filthy.  The showers
may be hot, or may be cold.  There is a bunkhouse, cabins, tentsites, and
rules, rules, rules - don't do this, don't do that.  You can resupply out of
the camp store.  Send someone else in if you don't like cigarette smoke...

*** Rainbow Springs Campground is available for sale.  It is positioned near
the entrance to the Standing Indian Wilderness, and does a great deal of
seasonal business.  A new owner, with hikers at heart, could really make
this a wonderful place.  Treat hikers with respect, expand the campstore by
adding a full service outfitter, offer clean facilities, offer to hold
maildrops, offer shuttles throughout the area, etc, etc...

Mile 106.8 - Winding Stair Gap (US Route 64)

You hike into a very large parking area that is intended for use by trucks
to check there brakes before a steep descent.  WARNING - since it is
required that trucks pull of, many do so at high speed, flying through the
parking area, ignoring the request to check the brakes.  Also be careful
crossing the highway, since many vehicles scream past here at high speed.
Water is available at the parking area via a piped spring.  You may see some
locals filling plastic water jugs here.  If a town stop is what you crave,
stick out your thumb, and head for Franklin.  This is a full service town
that is very spread out.  The favorite hiker motel is the Franklin Motel,
which is situated within striking distance of post office, laundry,
restaurants, groceries, and cobbler.  Other motels will have you situated
near groceries, fast food, and the outfitter.  So, determine what you need,
and make your choice accordingly...



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