Since the first time I learned about Len Foote Hike Inn, I wanted to go. I had no idea I’d live my dream at the height of fall — but we did it.
The Hike Inn is an amazing place that is only accessible by a 5-mile hike. The boys and I hiked the 5 miles into the Inn, enjoyed a lovely evening, and hiked the 5 miles back out.
We checked in at the Amicalola Falls State Park Visitor Center, then drove to the parking lot at the top of the falls where the Hike Inn Trail begins.
The first bit of the trail (1 mile??) is both a trail for the Hike Inn, and an Appalachian Trail approach trail that leads to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the AT. Once it branches, you’ll continue the green blaze.
Do you see the gorgeous tree colors? Amazing! It’s seriously one of the prettiest hiking trails in north Georgia.
The trail changes terrain and scenery several times. Always gorgeous…sometimes easy — like the trail above — and sometimes more challenging. We used trekking poles, which I highly recommend. I say “we” because I ended up giving up one of mine to Cooper. I need to get him some.
Here is a photo that Cooper took of me. The baby can hike about a half-mile…that’s it. So I carried him in an Ergo and carried the pack on my back. At the beginning of the hike, the older guy had his own pack.
By the second mile I had to attach it to the back of mine. It was mostly food, which is totally unnecessary — unless you’re bringing along the world’s pickiest first-grader. That gave me a 30-pound load in front and a 40+ lb load on my back.
It was pretty difficult, I’m not going to lie. But you know what? It was even more rewarding.
The walk was indescribable. It was challenging. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. It was ever-changing.
It takes most folks about 3 hours to hike. It took us a little less than 5 hours. I did not expect it to take THAT much longer with kids.
I’m glad we took our time and went at a pace that worked for all three of us, but I would have left much earlier in the day had I realized that would be the case. It was almost 5 p.m. before we arrived, leaving little daylight for exploring.
It might have taken a tad longer if not for the generous man who walked back down the last 1/4 mile to help carry my pack for me. I was pooped doing that last up-hill battle, and very thankful for his generosity and the peek of the building just over the hill.
We checked in at the front desk and got our sheets and towels. Then we headed to our room to drop our things off before getting a snack.
The rooms are primitive, but have everything you need. It’s actually really nice to have such simple rooms — it makes it easy to really focus on reconnecting with nature.
Each room has a set of bunk beds for two people. If you have a family of three, and one of the members is under the age of 12, you can all stay in one room. (They’ll bring a mat in so your child can sleep comfortably on the floor.) If you have a family of four, you’ll need to book two rooms — but they do have connecting rooms by request.
After dropping off our stuff, we headed to the dining hall for a snack. There is water, tea, coffee, and lemonade. Everyone gets ONE cup here. Write your name on it and use it throughout your visit.
Bathrooms are not in your room; they are in a bath house. The bath house, dining hall, bunk house, and game room are all connected. So although they are separate, it’s all very easy to navigate and get to.
All the toilets here are compost toilets. There are also hot showers — which is a major draw after a long day of hiking!
We went to the game room — the Sunshine Room — to see the books and board games, but landed on an outside game of Cornhole instead. We played here, took in the view, and learned about the Star Base. (You’ll have to go there to learn yourself. Very cool!)
There are plenty of Adirondack chairs set up on the deck of the Sunshine Room, and overlooking the beautiful mountains outside. It’s truly amazing.
When the dinner bell rang, we headed to the Dining Room for a wonderful family style meal. We were so excited to sit with a family meeting their son, who had just finished the AT only hours earlier. The crew made him a cake to celebrate!
Each evening there are activities for guests. We went back to the dining hall for an opportunity to make painted-leaf bookmarks. The boys loved these. There was a bear program after this in the Sunshine Room, but my little cubs were exhausted. We headed off to brush our teeth and hit the sack.
The next morning the gentle sound of a drum hustled by our door signaling sunrise was coming. The boys and I threw on sweatshirts, hit the loo, and then met the others to watch the sun rise. It was gorgeous.
In no time the breakfast bell rang. WOW. Bacon, grits, eggs, and peach spoon bread! It was a great way to prep for the hike back out. Here are the boys waiting for breakfast.
One of the many great things about the Hike Inn is they do an excellent job trying to cut down on food waste. During both dinner and breakfast, they ask that you only take what you think you can eat at first (you can get seconds! or thirds!) in an effort to cut down on waste and re-use leftovers. It’s seriously awesome, and something to apply when you get back home.
After breakfast, we did a little more playing and exploring, but the rain started to fall. I knew we had a long hike ahead of us. Luckily some guests offered us plastic bags as covering since I was unprepared. The hike out only took us 4 hours, even with the rain. It felt much easier.
I’m struggling to put into words how I felt doing this hike. I only wish 365 Dad had been with us. Not to off-set the load, but to experience this wonder with us.
Unlike the guy at our dinner table, we hadn’t spent 93 days on the trail. We didn’t struggle in the wild and walk holes into our shoes. But for us…for me…it was a special adventure. It was the “next step” in our journey to explore and enjoy the outdoors. We are one step closer to walking the AT as a family….still many years out (7? 8?), but we have managed to do something beyond the typical trail experience.
I feel confident in my boys and their growing abilities. We’re evolving. And I am thankful to the Hike Inn for making this step possible. We went “back country” with minimal risk. And we lived to tell the tale!
If you want to know more about our adventure, I encourage you to read my “just the facts, ma’am” review on Trekaroo about Len Foote Hike Inn.
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Disclosure:The boys and I received a complimentary stay at Len Foote for coverage on a few other web publications. Writing about it here was not part of my agreement, but really – how could I not share this adventure with you all? No way! As always, if I didn’t think it was killer, I wouldn’t write about. #keepingitreal