If you didn't get a reservation for Le Conte Lodge, consider adding Len Foote to your agenda! Similar to Le Conte, it's a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You'll leave with a renewed spirit and full belly. For many, it marks the beginning (or end) of a life-changing journey along the Appalachian Trail.
Len Foote Hike Inn is located at the end of a 5 mile trail in Amicalola State Park, near Dawsonville, Georgia, about 4 miles from the southernmost point of the AT... truly a hiker's paradise. The trail is easy, with an overall elevation gain of about 1,200 feet. This hike can be easily done in a pair of trail runners. All you need is what you can fit into your small daypack. Everything is provided at the inn - linens, soap, food, etc...
The weather for our hike in was perfect in every way - 70 degrees and sunny when we needed it. Trail conditions made for a quick hike. While there aren't many scenic views along the trail, the changing leaves were breathtaking. We made it to the inn in less than 2.5 hours and enjoyed hot chocolate and dinner shortly after we arrived. The family-style menu included carved turkey and veggies, with pound cake for dessert.
The rooms included single bunk beds, just wide enough to hang our backpacks. The common area was cozy with a generous supply of board games. Composting toilets were located in the common bathhouse and included a slight breeze up the backside to remind you that you were "roughing it."
We took an interesting tour of the grounds, learning all about composting, solar power, and the creation of this Japanese-style, carbon-neutral retreat center. The kids only thought they were on an educational break. Hardly!
We played board games late into the evening and were the last to turn out our lights for the night. I've never seen my boys play so many rounds of "Guess Who," laughing nonstop. It was such a great time together, free of digital distraction.
We set our alarms for 6:45 to see the sunrise, but woke up to a downpour! It reminded me of our last trip to Len Foote, when we hiked out in the pouring rain. Luckily for us, the rain took a break after breakfast (peach spoon bread!!) and we enjoyed a totally different landscape in the dense fog. The boys said they actually preferred the hike out because of it.
I left the woods, filled with gratitude for this special time with my boys. I couldn't imagine a better time together. There was zero complaining or tech withdrawals. They were fully engaged for the entire journey, dreaming out loud about their own through-hikes of the future. I did ask if they wish we could have stayed longer, to which they kindly replied, "Nah."
Can't win them all. Ha!
Tell us about your hike inn experiences. Where should we go next?