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Happy trails in Dahlonega

Town celebrates its role in hiking world with weekend festival

POSTED: March 17, 2011 12:30 a.m.

This weekend's inaugural "Spring on Springer! 2011 Dahlonega Trail Fest" will do more than give hikers an opportunity to kick off the spring hiking season.

It will also celebrate the town being selected as one of the newest Appalachian Trail Communities. The designation was bestowed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

"The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to celebrate the communities that are helping to protect and promote the Appalachian Trail," said Julie Judkins, conservancy community program manager.

"These new partnerships will increase local stewardship of public lands, support community initiatives for sustainable economic development and conservation planning, as well as support healthy lifestyles for community citizens."

The festivities will officially begin at 1 p.m. Friday with an opening ceremony at Hancock Park, which is located at the intersection of North Park and Warwick streets near the downtown Dahlonega square.

Throughout the weekend, there will be various activities including workshops, guided hikes and guest speakers.

The festival coincides with the Northbounder kickoff season on Springer Mountain. The mountain is located about 20 miles outside of Dahlonega and is the southern end point of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches north to Maine.

The Northbounder kickoff is typically when hikers who are planning to complete the 2,100-mile trail begin their excursion in Georgia.

Although the trail is right in Dahlonega's backyard, not many people are aware of its proximity, festival organizers say.

"When I lived in Alabama, I would come to hike the Springer Mountain (portion of the Appalachian Trail). When I moved here, I thought everyone would know about the Appalachian Trail, but a lot of people aren't aware of how close it is," said Tom Lamb, festival chairman.

"We want to raise awareness about the importance of the trail. Millions of people hike it each year and that has a significant impact on the local economy.

"In Maine, if you came out on the road (from the trail) and had a backpack on, anyone would stop and give you a ride into town. Here, it's much harder to get a ride into town because not a lot of people are aware of the trail."

Festival activities will conclude with a trivia night Sunday at a Dahlonega pub.

For more information about the festival and for a complete schedule of events, click here.

 



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