Appalachian Trail Kickoff Conference Near Springer Mountain

The Appalachian Trail Approach Sign at Amicalola Falls State Park ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The Appalachian Trail Approach Sign at Amicalola Falls State Park ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The annual Appalachian Trail Kickoff begins on Friday evening, March 7th at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia -- near the stairway to heaven: the southern terminus of the Trail at Springer Mountain -- and runs through Sunday, March 9, 2014.

ATKO 2014, as it is affectionately called, is the perfect place to gather with folks who have thru-hiked the AT several times and noobs who wonder how many iron frying pans will fit in their grandfather's canvas Army sack.

First of all, Amicalola Falls State Park is gorgeous. Cool waterfall with a killer path to the top. Great buffet. Nice meeting rooms. Friendly people and the iconic AT plaque on Springer Mountain is just a hop, skip and a few thousand jumps away.

Click Here for Amicalola Falls State Park Info

ATKO 2014 takes place on the first full weekend of March. Lots of events are planned and there's plenty of free time to hike, fiddle with your gear and/or fall in love.

Experts and people who actually have jobs will help you pack your pack, find your way and hike your own hike. You'll meet authors, guides, folks from several AT organizations and even normal people at ATKO 2014.

Several events on the ATKO website looked like fun, but it was last year's calendar. One thing is certain, the Virtual Campfire Conference will return at 7 PM on Saturday night. Here's how they described the one held in 2013:

With a little tech wizardry all the authors, experts, vendors and veteran AT thru-hikers of the event ALL gather around an indoor campfire and compare notes with the Class of 2013 Thru-Hikers about to disembark ! It's a great opportunity to hear all these folks in the same place at the same time -- with the trail community being supportive of the newest aspiring thru-hikers.

Click Here for List of ATKO 2014 Speakers

Several of our favorite folks will address the crowd:

  • David "AWOL" Miller author of "AWOL on the Appalachian Trail" and the indispensable "The AT Guide."
  • Gene Espy Second thru-hiker ever (1951) of the "AT" and author of "The Trail of My Life."
  • Bob "Sir-Packs-Alot" Gabrielsen Bob is a veteran guide/naturalist/storyteller and Triple Crowner (thru-hiked AT /PCT /CDT).

Think of ATKO 2014 as Woodstock for Appalachian Trail hikers -- except for the food, indoor plumbing, shelter, lack of rain and the absence of loud music all night.

Click Here for ATKO 2014

Tags: Attractions, Events, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Hiking Gear, News, Appalachian Trail Clubs, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, and Robert Sutherland Travel Writer

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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