ATKO 2017 ~ Appalachian Trail Kickoff Convention

Bob Gabrielsen at ATKO 2014. ~ Photo by Robert Sutherland

ATKO 2017 -- March 3-5 -- is the best way to kickoff the Appalachian Trail hiking season. Bob Gabrielsen and hordes of his cohorts are organizing displays, scheduling fascinating speakers, planning seminars, building campfires and prepping for the annual convention for hikers of the AT and other trails.

Reserve the first weekend of March for ATKO 2017 and plan to be with all your stinky friends -- most of whom clean up pretty good - at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia.

Who Should Attend ATKO 2017?

If you have ever had a heated conversation about the advantages of sleeping in a hammock instead of a tent ... you should attend ATKO 2017.

If you know the 20 best post offices on the Appalachian Trail to mail drop boxes, but you can't find your local post office ... you should attend ATKO 2017.

If you've never driven from Georgia to Maine, but you've walked there ... you should attend ATKO 2017.

Amicalola Falls State Park

High on a semi-mountain top lies (lays?) the beautiful lodge at Amicalola Falls State Park a hoot-and-a-holler downhill from the southern portal to the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain.

ATKO is held mostly indoors at the Lodge. Fly down in an easy chair even if you're going somewhere. Feast at the fancy buffet. Rest in convenient rooms with running water, showers, clean beds, glorious views, electricity and no mice (probably). Compare all that to the average shelter on the Trail and you'll agree. The lodge is a poor man's paradise.

Is it Really a Convention?

Mostly. Convention sounds better than, "Sorry, boss, I can't work that weekend. I have an appointment to hang with hiker trash." Right? Comes in handy with family, too. "Oh, honey! I wish I could go to the Gleebnarm's wedding with you! I'm booked for a convention outside of Atlanta. Dang."

The Fine Print

Do you feel like you're all alone when you obsess about whether you should cut the excess straps off your backpack (or bra) to cut down your base weight? Are you afraid no one could ever comprehend why you know so much about different types of water filtration units? Could you nail a 100-question test on the various types of fancy sleeping bags, socks, hiking poles and those thingys hikers wear to keep their boots almost dry?

You belong at ATKO 2017. With your people. With your kind. Really. You do.

ATKO 2017 Fine Print

Tags: Attractions, Events, Appalachian Trail, News, Appalachian Trail Conference, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Hikers, Conference, Information, appalachian trail hikers, and appalachian trail kickoff atko

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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Appalachian Trail events take place from early March until September from Georgia to Maine. It's the best way to see the Trail without getting blisters.

We hope to see you at one of the 2014 Appalachian Trail events that take place all along the AT -- from Maine to Georgia.

RegularDave on Dec 26, 2016
ATKO 2017, Thanks for the heads up.
William on Feb 3, 2017
All of the qualifications under the "Who Should Attend" section make it sound as if only experienced AT hikers should come to the kick off. I've done lots of backpacking but have never been a thru-hiker & certainly am not overly familiar with the AT. Is kick-off a good opportunity to learn about the trail or is it more a reunion for old hiking friends?

Starr on Feb 6, 2017
I have never backpacked, never thru-hiked and am really just a beginner but I'm going! I know what it feels like to hang with hiker trash...I'm addicted to it. IMO, you should go! My girlfriends and I are camping.
Dena on Feb 25, 2017
This event is for anyone and everyone who wants to learn more about hiking and gear. I was there the last two years and I can assure you that you'll see every different type of hiker there to get their own benefits from it.
Hikingma on Feb 19, 2017
Go by all means, I'm not an experienced hiker but I love listening & learning about the AT. It's a lot of fun & you meet some great people too. How can it not be worth it when you you get a weekend in the mountains. See you there!