Saturday presented the opportunity to go on a day hike with some good friends. The Alaskans, Dave & Leila, were interested in hiking the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. We had all day Saturday at our disposal, so we got an early start and drove off to the Springer Mountain Trailhead.
There was rock crushing and road grooming going on all week on FSR 42, the forest service road that gets you to the trailhead. A call to the forest service office the day before provided the info that the work would be taking place to the east of the trailhead. So we drove up from the west. (Springer Mountain Trailhead Access Directions & Maps: from the west | from the east).
At the Springer Mountain Trailhead, there is a double-loop option that takes you on a 10 mile circuit to Three Forks and back (approximate map). From the parking lot, first we hiked south 0.9 miles back to the summit of Springer Mountain, which is the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. Unfortunately, while it was beautiful everywhere else, the summit was closed in with clouds. Undeterred, we headed back north after taking a few foggy pictures and then veered off to the right heading east on the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT). We hiked this short loop which crosses FSR 42 to the east of the parking lot and then loops back west to the vicinity of the parking lot where it intersects with the AT. At the AT intersection, we headed north until we came upon the fork at the base of Rich Mountain. Here we turned right back onto the Benton MacKaye, hiking up the ridge and then down to Three Forks.
We ate a big lunch by the babbling Stover Creek before heading back, this time via the Appalachian Trail. When we came upon the BMT/AT junction, this time we turned right and hiked the BMT back to the FS road and walked back up the freshly graded road for about 100 yards to the parking lot.
The day started out brisk, in the 40’s, but quickly warmed to the mid sixties. Except for the top of Springer, we enjoyed a sunny day throughout.
Overall, it’s a pretty easy hike, especially when you’re not carrying a backpack.