The Len Foote Hike Inn is nestled in an exceptionally beautiful stretch of the southern Appalachians. It’s an environmentally sustainable backcountry lodge that’s accessible only by hike, clad in beautiful rustic/modern architecture and a comfortable and welcoming spirit, and dishing fresh and delicious cuisine on a mountaintop with incredible vistas.
It’s only accessible via the Hike Inn Trail, a moderately challenging, five mile hike from the crest of Amicalola Falls, Georgia’s tallest waterfall. The hike explores a diverse landscape dotted with beautiful ridges, overlooks, and rhododendron-filled creek valleys. And while the hike itself is worthy of the journey, it’s the warm hospitality, comfy furnishings, and great conversation at inn that make this an exceptionally worthwhile adventure. Springer Mountain, the southernmost blaze on the iconic, 2000+ mile Appalachian Trail, is a day hike away. And the inn is an equally fantastic place to cozy up with a good book, play a board game with a friend, stargaze under a blanket of abundant stars, and catch morning’s first light from a lofty overlook.
The Len Foote Hike Inn is architecturally beautiful: windows fill the soaring construction and wide eaves anchor the inn to the earth. It’s a well-executed blend of modern and rustic design that feels like a natural extension of the rolling mountain landscape. Covered walkways connect the inn’s multiple buildings, with scattered Adirondack chairs that beg for a lazy afternoon of porch sitting and wildlife watching. Along with the building’s LEED-gold architecture, the inn’s commendable eco-friendly efforts keep it grounded in the mountain’s ecology. The lodge operates “above the grid”, thanks to solar energy supplied by a solar photovoltaic array that provides the majority of the inn’s electricity needs. The solar addition complements the inn’s many other sustainable systems, including its solar water heating system, water conservation efforts that save over 200,000 gallons of water every year, and a food composting system that turns food waste into food for the gardens.
The inn offers the chance to stay in a particularly scenic and remote wilderness area, with many of the pleasures of backpacking without the need to pack a heavy load. The inn features twenty guest rooms, and linens are provided, so all that’s needed for a stay is a toothbrush, toiletries, and a change of clothes, in addition to the usual hiking gear for a day hike. Add in some great company, seriously delicious meals, and those oh-so-memorable sunrises, and this is an experience that’s fully worth repeating.
Our Len Foote Hike Inn review
After the hike from Amicalola, we enter the Hike Inn to check in. We’re greeted by the pleasant smell of burning firewood wafting in the air. The front desk manager delivers a warm welcome, a quick orientation, our bed linens and towels, and directions to our room.
We head for our room to store our backpacks and check out the accommodations. Our room is small and efficient, but exceptionally clean. A bunk bed runs the length of the room, a heater and fan provide simple but effective climate control, and a screen door opens to a shared porch with rocking chairs and beautiful mountain views. The room’s efficient size is large enough for sleeping, and an encouragement to spend time in the lodge’s common areas, like the wonderfully-furnished and sunlight-filled sunrise room. The communal restrooms are basic but modern, and like the guest rooms, extremely clean. Hot showers, courtesy of solar heating, seem like a luxury after a day out on the trail.
A ring of a bell (and crave-worthy smells wafting from the dining hall) signals meal time. Dinner and breakfast are included in the price of the stay, and are crafted onsite by a chef and crew using local ingredients whenever possible. And they’re seriously delicious. Meals are served family style at long tables, and offer a great chance to meet the other guests. We loved dining with our group’s eclectic mix of personalities, all with a shared love of hiking and the outdoors – and all with great travel stories to share.
After dinner and dessert, the guests scatter to other parts of the property. We migrate to the sunrise room, the easternmost building at the inn’s winding maze of covered walkways. A wood burning stove is the heart of this open room with soaring ceilings, game tables, and comfy bench couches. The vibe at the inn is chill and refreshing, friendly and unpretentious, framed in the inn’s rustic and beautiful surroundings of the inn. The staff is wonderfully helpful, friendly, easy-going and cheerful.
After a great night’s sleep, sunrise is a celebratory experience at the inn. A faint drumbeat serves as an alarm clock just before daybreak. The inn borders a wide overlook that offers sweeping views of the rising foothills of the Appalachians to the east, and makes a fantastic spot for catching the day’s first colorful rays.
Breakfast follows sunrise, served in the dining hall. As with dinner, breakfast is hearty, fresh and expertly prepared. Daytime activities range from relaxation to hiking: the southernmost blaze of the Appalachian Trail lies 4.4 miles away at Springer Mountain, well worth hike. We request packed lunches the night before, and head to the Springer summit for a picnic lunch on the southernmost end of the AT.
Regrettably, our stay ends and we make the journey back to the trailhead at Amicalola Falls.
The food. Our fellow guests. The Hike Inn’s wonderful staff, its architecture, its commitment to sustainability and those incredible sunrise views. They all blend into an incredibly unique experience, and we simply can’t wait to return.
(Reservations are required; visit hike-inn.com for availability.)