Location: Amicalola State Park, Dawsonville/Dahlonega - Hwy 52 - Moderate Hike
The Video above will give you a look at my experience to The Hike Inn, December 2016. Located at Amicalola State Park, the lodge is accessible only by a 5 mile trail.
Let me just tell you how amazing this place is. It captured my heart in a big way. A total off-the-grid sustainable lodge stemming out in the Chattahoochee National Forest from Amicalola State Park. There is also a trail that connects you to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail on Springer Mountain. They call it the Approach Trail. Many thru-hikers add this extra 8 miles or so on top of their trek to have the safe parking, State-run facility to go through. The Hike Inn is only accessible by trail.
It’s 5 miles of gorgeous. The dancing laurel takes over in this area. At one point, you can see Atlanta from the trail! I was amazed. I had to stop and take a couple breaks for fuel, but I did fine. I didn’t feel rushed. I thought it would take me a really long time, but I was only a little longer than what they say is average speed. I arrived around 11 am at the park, checked in at the front office as you enter, drove up toward the lodge, parked at the top of Amicalola Falls in that parking lot and hiked up along the ridge on the Hike Inn Trail. It took me about 3.5 hours to get out there.
I went with the Mountain High Hiker Group. This was my first hike with this group and I wasn’t sure if I would be so welcome with my slow pace, so I was a little worried. I immediately met up with a couple who also liked to take it slow and were delightful. So at some points, I joined people, and other points I hiked alone during these five miles. It was awesome for me. A perfect balance. I stopped and enjoyed taking photos and sitting and experiencing. Patting myself on the back for not only going with a group, making a plan and actually sticking to it, hiking five miles, taking a chance. These are all things I struggle with. So I was happy.
The days I went were absolutely freezing cold. When we checked out on the second day, the wind was 20 mph or more and the feels-like temp was 10 degrees. I very quickly learned how awful my gloves, socks and basically everything was, except my pants. I did have a great hat that made me look like a robber, but I could have cared less. This cold also made me hike faster. It kept me warmer and I needed to get to my car. It was serious. I immediately went home and bought wool socks, the good ones. Better hiking gloves. Another Under Armour Layer, A better hat. Gear matters. Oh my gosh.
So when you get to the Inn, it’s beautiful and huge. Much larger than I thought it would be. The rooms are really clean and the place was so warm with fireplaces going everywhere. It was Christmastime so there were Christmas trees up and it was decorated; felt so festive. The Sunrise room was filled with games and laughter from my hiking group. It was wonderfully inviting in there and it was nice seeing all these people having fun together. I loved getting some quiet time by the Christmas tree up in the front reception room. The fire was warm, the lighting was magical, my reading was wonderful. I was in heaven. I spent time taking pictures of the Supermoon, which was also this night that I went. It was huge over the horizon. The sunset was incredible as was the sunrise. I got amazing shots of color. The sky was literally kissing me. REWARDING me for going! I knew it.
You can take a short tour of the place when you stay there. They show you the whole operation and it’s so interesting and so impressive. Sustainable Life is easier than we think, and these folks are proving it. You are fed a big ole’ country dinner and beautiful breakfast and the food was delicious. I was so relieved. I had snacks, but the cold made me aching for some good hot food, and it was there. Family style friendly meals together in a warm kitchen where food is prepared in mounds and brought to us. When we arrived, there were snacks out and things to grab and eat if you were hungry between the mealtimes. Coffee and Tea bar ready and waiting most of the time. It was super. I was impressed, and knew I would go back again.
The Star Calendar outside lines up with the sun at Summer Solstice and that would be cool to visit while that was happening (good photos ops). I had fun taking shots through this hole in stone. The landscape up there was truly breathtaking. I had the thought that I wished I had an extra day to enjoy. I would have stayed the extra day for sure. The quiet. The light, The moon, Everything about it was therapy to my soul.
It’s a family- friendly place, where they encourage the kids because it teaches them to think outside the box with construction, sustainability, solar power, composting and more. I look forward to taking my granddaughter out there when she can work up to a five mile hike.
If you can do this hike, do it. Bring your favorite book or play games again in a sunny amazing room with windows filled with ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s like being inside of a painting. A totally different experience to add to your calendar.
These folks work hard to bring you an incredible experience. And they pull it off.