Atlanta TrailsbyTrailful Outdoor Co
Hiking Trails in Georgia

Springer Mountain Loop: AT & Benton MacKaye Trail

Hike the Springer Mountain Loop, following the Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail to explore multiple view-packed overlooks and a beautiful stream-filled valley.

georgia hiking trails: 4-6 miles 4.7 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderate to difficultmore
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:Appalachian Trail near Ellijay, Georgia

PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list

OFFICIAL MAP: Appalachian Trail, Trails Illustrated Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)

Springer Mountain isn’t the highest summit in North Georgia, and the views aren’t quite as wide as its Georgia rivals like Blood Mountain or Rabun Bald.

But Springer Mountain ranks high on our lists of favorite Georgia hikes, and for a good reason: the southernmost blaze of the Appalachian Trail lies on the Springer summit. It’s here, on this mountaintop near Amicalola Falls, that an epic, 2,000+ mile adventure begins (or ends) for the thousands of thru-hikers that journey the AT’s entire length.

Springer Mountain Loop: hike the Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail in North Georgia, catching summit views from multiple overlooksAbove: hike to summit views at the Springer Mountain summit, the southernmost end of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

Hike this 4.7-mile loop on the AT and Benton MacKaye Trail, catching beautiful mountaintop views from multiple overlooks, hiking through a scenic hardwood forest and crossing through a shady, mossy stream valley. Departing the often-crowded Springer Mountain summit, this loop on the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) grabs some solitude from a second summit overlook, one that rivals the view from the true Springer Mountain summit.

The BMT, named after the founder of the Appalachian Trail, also visits a memorial to Benton MacKaye near on Springer Mountain and explores a rhododendron-filled creek valley before looping back to the trailhead. It’s a gorgeous hike in any season, but one of our favorite Georgia hikes in winter, when the overlook vistas open to broad and frosty mountaintop views. And it’s also especially beautiful in autumn’s beautiful leaf color.

Hike the Springer Mountain Loop, following the Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail to explore multiple view-packed overlooks and a beautiful stream-filled valley. #hiking #running #camping #backpacking #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Springer Mountain Loop on the Appalachian Trail

The Springer Mountain Loop departs the Springer Mountain parking area on Forest Road 42 (view maps and driving directions), following the white, rectangular blazed Appalachian Trail westbound across the gravel forest road.

Springer Mountain Loop: follow the Appalachian Trail to the trail's southernmost end in Georgia

The hike arcs south toward Springer Mountain, steadily gaining more than 350 feet elevation and climbing through a rocky, boulder-filled forest. The hike passes the Benton MacKaye Trailhead on trail left before reaching the Springer summit at just under 1 mile, catching summit views of the southern Appalachian mountains.

The Springer Mountain Loop departs the summit, descending on the Appalachian Trail to the Benton Mackeye Trail. The hike reaches the BMT trailhead at 1.15 miles, turning right to follow the BMT’s white diamond trail blazes northbound.

The BMT passes a memorial to Benton MacKaye at 1.25 miles before arcing to begin a continual, eastbound descent from the Springer Mountain summit. The hike levels at 1.75 miles before starting a brief, 125-foot ascent of Ball Mountain. The trail reaches a side trail to the right at 2.25 miles, marked by a double-diamond blaze.

Springer Mountain Loop: hike the Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail

The hike follows this short spur to grab stunning views from a nearby overlook. The broad, long-range view is especially beautiful in the fall, when saturated leaf color dots the surrounding peaks – and the view rivals the more popular, and often crowded, Springer Mountain summit.

The Springer Mountain Loop departs the overlook, rejoining the Benton MacKaye Trail and turning right. The hike crosses Forest Road 42 at Big Stamp Gap and follows the BMT westbound, climbing elevation and switching back through a canopy of mountain laurel and rhododendron.

Springer Mountain Loop: hike the Benton MacKaye Trail through a stream-filled forest on the mountain's lower slopes

The hike reaches the first of several stream crossings at 3.5 miles, hiking through the shallow bed of Davis Creek. The damp, water-filled creek valley is a contrast to the dry, windswept landscape of Springer Mountain summit: vibrant green moss covers water-rounded boulders, and abundant wildflowers add vibrant color to the forest floor.

The Benton MacKaye Trail crosses Davis Creek several times before climbing elevation, rising to meet a junction with the Appalachian Trail at 4.4 miles. This route on the Springer Mountain Loop turns left at this intersection, following the white rectangular blazes of the AT in a southwest arc to the trailhead. The hike reaches the Springer Mountain parking area at 4.7 miles, completing the adventure.

Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.

Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.

Springer Mountain Loop on the Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail Map, Directions & Details

This map shows our approximate route while exploring this trail, but does not replace an official trail map. Please refer to the official trail map for the most current and accurate route.

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Benton MacKaye Trail Association. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Driving Directions


Free. Trailhead access is via gravel Forest Service roads.

GPS Coordinates

34.637467, -84.195317     //     N34 38.248 W84 11.719

Elevation Profile

Springer Mountain Loop on the Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail Elevation Profile

Eric Champlin is a creative director and photographer who loves to explore southeast. He's the co-owner of Trailful Outdoor Co, a locally-owned hiking outfitter shop in Hiawassee in the Georgia mountains near the Appalachian Trail. He’s also the co-founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.