The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) will hold two ceremonies celebrating Dahlonega and Blairsville/Union County Georgia’s designations as the newest Appalachian Trail Communities™ with a proclamation signing and speakers, including local and regional leaders.
Launched in 2010, the Appalachian Trail Community™ designation program recognizes communities for their part in promoting awareness of the A.T. as an important national asset. Towns, counties and communities along the A.T.’s corridor are considered assets by A.T. hikers and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to celebrate communities that are helping to protect and promote the Appalachian Trail,” stated Julie Judkins, Community Program Manager of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “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.”
On March 18, Dahlonega will host a designation ceremony downtown at Hancock Park at 1:00 pm, and will kick off Dahlonega’s first trail fest, Spring on Springer. Special guests for the designation include Mayor McCullough and other leaders. The festival offers in-town camping, mountain and folk music, nationally recognized authors and long distance hikers, workshops on camping and outdoor topics and children's activities. Guided hikes will include local history tours, including the gold mining heritage of the town, and nearby trails, including the A.T. Hiker shuttles will be available for those backpacking on the A.T. Equipment vendors and informational booths will be set up around the park. For more information about the Trail festival click here.
On March 22 at 11:00 am, the designation ceremony for Blairsville and Union County will take place on the Appalachian Trail at the famous Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi (prun: Wa La See Yee). The historical building was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps at the same time the A.T. was constructed. The A.T. itself passes right through the building, where hikers can have their pack’s contents evaluated by store staff. Each year, staff evaluates over 500 packs and ships back over 9000 lbs of unnecessary gear from the store. “Over the past 30 years Mountain Crossings and the people of Union County have served the hiking community graciously and unselfishly. This A.T. designation, through this celebration, is a grand tribute to all who have extended their hand of hospitality to the A.T. dreamers, who visit our home along the A.T.,” stated owner Winton Porter. Guest speakers include Mayor Jim Conley, Commissioner Lamar Paris, ATC board chair Bob Almand and other leaders.
These communities are celebrating and welcoming hikers setting out to hike over 2,000 miles, those who enjoy shorter sections of the A.T. as well as local citizens who may use the iconic Trail regularly. Blairsville’s ceremony will highlight the importance of Blairsville and Union County’s designation and highlight students who are using the Trail as an educational resource and tool.
The volunteers of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club (GATC), one of ATC’s 31 A.T. maintaining clubs from Georgia to Maine, lead the maintenance, management and protection of the A.T. in Georgia, in cooperation with the ATC, Chattahoochee NF and Georgia DNR. The GATC works closely with Dahlonega and Union County to make the most of this new program.