The Art of Mountain Hiking - the Appalachians

Destination: Dahlonega, GA

| Activities: Hiking

Although hiking is essentially putting one foot in front of the other, there are many tips that can make hiking both more enjoyable and safe. There are two ways to acquire the knowledge necessary to hike safely in a variety of terrains: either through experience, or by learning from others with that experience. If you want to jump start your learning and your experience, join us for five days of experiential education in the Georgia Mountains with two experienced hiking guides. Maximum group size: 12


  • Gaining a solid foundation in the skills and knowledge needed to hike safely and have fun in the mountains
  • Learning to anticipate and prevent the most common hazards: weather changes, lightning, animals, getting lost etc
  • Learning to read a map and use a compass
  • Participating on a variety of mountain hikes
  • Enjoying the camaraderie of other women who love to hike

Departures and Prices

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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Four nights lodging in the described accommodation
  • All meals from dinner Sunday to lunch the following Thursday
  • All transportation once you arrive in Atlanta, GA

What's not included: Travel to/from the Atlanta airport, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and trip insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is for women in good physical condition who can hike for two to four hours a day in mountainous terrain. While intermediate hikers who want to hone their skills are welcome, the trip is primarily designed for novice hikers with no or limited previous hiking experience. If your interest is more in hiking than in combining hiking with learning, we suggest you look at one of our other hiking trips. A rating of 2 is suitable for any woman who regularly walks at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes. Rating: 1 [2] 3 4 5.

This is a hiking trip with a focus on learning all about hiking in the mountains. In addition to hiking, there will be teaching sessions designed to teach you all the fundamental of hiking including using a map and compass.

We will spend four nights at Retreat on the Ridge , a luxurious 7-bedroom 5.5 bath majestic mountain home where you can enjoy the north Georgia mountains in luxury, style and convenience. It's seven miles north of Downtown Dahlonega with spectacular panoramic views, a saltwater pool, and a firepit.
There are seven bedrooms that are a mix of single and shared rooms, plus a "bunkroom" with four beds (two singles and one bunkbed). There is a discount for the bunkroom, and three single rooms are available for a single supplement; otherwise, rooms will be assigned randomly.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

We'll meet at the Atlanta airport at 1 pm. From there we'll take the metro to the spot where the shuttle picks us up and transports us to a deluxe vacation home that is our home for the trip. After getting settled in we have our first lesson: how to adjust, hold, and place trekking poles. This is a basic skill that we'll be practicing all week so next we stretch our legs and practice using poles with a short walk. After the first of many hearty dinners we'll start discussing hiking basics: what to wear and what to bring with you, how to adjust your pack for maximum comfort, foot care, and how to choose a hiking pace.
This morning we'll have a workshop on how to read a map, use a compass, and plan a hike. Map and compass are a topic that can only be learned with practice, so we'll put this morning's lessons to use throughout the rest of the trip. In the afternoon we'll hike a 3.5 mile section of the Appalachian Trail, from Gooch Gap to Woody Gap with about 400 feet elevation gain. Before and during the hike we'll review how to effectively use hiking poles on uphill and downhills and hiking techniques such as the rest step. Along the way and at the top of the mountain we'll pull out maps and compasses.

Since first aid is such an important topic, we will spend time this evening looking at what you should carry in a First Aid Kit and how to treat a couple of the most common problems. In particular, since painful feet are the most common way to ruin a hike, we will review foot care in depth with hands on practice.
This morning we'll discuss conditioning, nutrition, how to determine how much water to carry and various methods of treating it. We'll also discuss common safety issues: getting lost, getting injured, bad weather, hypothermia, heat exhaustion, bears, river crossings, and lightning. Of course after that we may be feeling too scared to ever want to hike again! But that will quickly disappear on our next hike. We'll hike 5 miles, starting at Springer Mountain (yes, the start of the Appalachian Trail) and hiking to 3 Forks. If we have time, we can add another 2 miles with an out and back hike to Long Creek Falls. 3 Forks has several streams so this will be a great place to practice water crossings.

Using the skills and knowledge we've gained over the previous days, we will put it all together as we spend the evening planning tomorrow's hike.
Today is an all-day hike where we'll put together everything we've learned. We'll start at Nimblewill Gap and hike to Len Foote Hike Inn. This hut is similar to the AMC huts in the White Mountains and, just like them, is a great place to reward yourself with a refreshing glass of lemonade. We'll then continue to Amicalola Falls State Park. The moderate trail traverses diverse landscapes, dipping and rising across ridges and down through mossy, ferny creek valleys. The total mileage is 6.1 to 7.1 miles, depending on whether we stop at the top of the Falls or continue to the Visitor Center.

Tonight, feeling like the accomplished hikers we now are, we'll go out to celebrate and share a final farewell dinner.
This morning after breakfast, we'll spend a little time talking about hiking destinations and where to find more information about them. We'll then pack up and depending on time either have a short hike or a chance to explore the beautiful town of Dahlonega, a hidden jewel set in the North Georgia mountains. We'll plan to be done by 1PM and those who are flying home can plan for flights after 4:00pm


(29 reviews)
4.8 Food
4.9 Lodging
5 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Most Recent

Catherine G.
4 years ago

the guides--knowledgeable, sense of humor, good cooks, delivered on the learning component; this was my fifth AGC experience and I enjoyed this particular group the most--of course that might be serendipity owed to the particular women who signed up for this trip, but our interactions were promoted by the particular setting, with several different areas in which spontaneous conversation could occur--porch, pool, large kitchen, living room; and I always enjoy the challenge of hiking if the mileage is manageable for me

Christine S.
4 years ago

Alice C.
4 years ago

Gourmet food we had, nice lodging, great company with other hikers, and excellent guides.

Deborah R.
4 years ago

Leigh Saint and Claire Lukas, the trip leaders, were outstanding. The participants were friendly and engaging. I especially liked the second day's hike, including Springer Mountain. And the food. OMG, the food. Dare I say it, I had my doubts about the utility of trekking poles but I'm sold on them now. I wish I could take them everywhere. :)

Kathryn G.
4 years ago

I was concerned about hiking in Georgia in July due to heat and amount of miles being hiked but the weather for our hiking locations was cooler most days than Dahlonega forecast and the guides provided breaks at the right moment and locations. A few times, we had enough time to get cold water from stream, change shirts/socks etc as needed. Food was provided for all meals including lunch and snacks. Food was generally very healthy and well prepared by our guides.

Heidi R.
4 years ago

The effortlessness with which the guides, Leigh and Claire, generously imparted their extensive knowledge and cultivated inclusivity was particularly notable. I felt an easiness that drew me in and opened the door to bonding with these adventurous women. The sensory-kinesthetic, aural, olfactory, visual, tactile-immersion of hiking on the AT validated my love of walking, of being in the woods. And the meals were exceptional!

Susanna R.
5 years ago

Mary G.
5 years ago

The hiking and compass class. But hiking was the best

Teresa W.
5 years ago

This trip was exactly as advertised and fulfilled my expectations.

Isha P.
6 years ago

Stacey C.
6 years ago

The trip far exceeded my expectations. Leigh and Claire were professional and knowledgable. And boy can they cook! I was not expecting home cooked meals from my guides. That glory bowl was out of this world.

Mary M.
6 years ago

Gaining knowledge of hiking from kind and competent guides.

Alison R.
6 years ago

I was interested in the compass instruction and pleased with that. Understanding how to use poles properly, the rest step and reviewing first aid kit and water filtration were also good.

Carolyn L.
6 years ago

Trip was exactly what I expected and I needed. Great first experience on the AT and a nice opportunity to learn the art of hiking.

Barbara C.
6 years ago

Jung-Chen J.
6 years ago

The guides are extremely friendly and helpful, and very knowledgeable. They made me feel comfortable since I knew nothing about any of the equipment I bought, and learned more than I expected to learn from this trip. No matter how one is not ready for prime time, the guides are with you all the way and never left anyone behind, and always patiently waiting for you to be continue.

Julie S.
6 years ago

Janice P.
7 years ago

Personal interactions with the guides and everything was so organized!

Susan M.
7 years ago

Julia P.
7 years ago

Linda W.
7 years ago

The education, the guides, the accommodations, the fellow participants

Marjorie K.
7 years ago

Kathy R.
7 years ago

From the minute I step into hiker hostel Jesse's warm welcome and information to Lee and Claire's getting down to business and not wasting time meals including snack and lunch preparation for the days hike! Very very well organized! Thank you 😊

Shellee P.
8 years ago

I enjoyed the hikes and learning how to use an old school compass. The Hiker Hostel was a great location!

Kristie T.
8 years ago

The talks about various outdoor skills were very good. I especially appreciated the discussions of layering and water treatments. T

Patty H.
8 years ago

The hiking was awesome. The meals were fantastic.

Hege K.
8 years ago

I learned a lot

Elizabeth S.
8 years ago

The chemistry of the group was amazing! Would have liked to have hiked more miles. More of the instruction could have taken place on the trails. Food was great, Leigh went above and beyond accommodating dietary needs.

Cindy C.
8 years ago

Hiking, companionship and good food.

  1. Where do we eat?

    The guides will be cooking breakfasts and most dinners at the lodging. Before you leave in the morning the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you will take a packed lunch. You will go out for one dinner where you can order off the menu; other nights you'll relax in the lodge and have dinner there.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise you'll be randomly assigned to one of the remaining rooms.