Sometimes you have to earn your supper — even after you pay for it.
That’s the deal at the Len Foote Hike Inn – a paradise within the Eden of Amicalola Falls State Park, near Dawsonville, GA.
The Hike Inn welcomes hungry hikers who trek the five-mile trail from Amicalola Falls State Park. But if you’re not willing to walk the walk, you don’t get fed.
Sorry, bucko, they don’t deliver meals to folks in the forest who only get half-way there. But look on the bright side! If you slay a vicious bear with your shoelaces, you can make your own dinner.
Happy guests who finished the hike have rewarded the inn with scores of good reviews on TripAdvisor, an international travel-review website.
As a result, TripAdvisor recently awarded the inn a 2012 Certificate of Excellence.
Reviewers regularly praise the Hike Inn’s customer service and facilities, earning it a 4.5 out of 5 rating.
Forty of the 48 recent reviews gave the inn five-star ratings.
“We are honored and thrilled to receive this award from such a well-respected travel website,” said Hike Inn Executive Director Eric Graves. “All of our staff and volunteers are dedicated to making this a favorite destination for our guests. We have people who have been coming here annually since we opened in 1998. I can’t tell you how good it feels to know that we have become part of that tradition.”
The Hike Inn is located at the end of a five-mile trail from Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville. Guests carry only a daypack with toiletries and cameras along the way. At the end of their journey, they find rustic guest rooms, hot showers and hearty meals served family-style, encouraging them to get to know fellow travelers. Staff encourage guests to leave modern technology like cell phones tucked away, helping them relax in the natural environment.
“Some people think that our inn is just for hard-core hikers, but that’s not the case,” said Graves. “We’ve had visitors as young as three and as old as 84. The trail isn’t particularly difficult, and visitors can take their time hiking. Most people finish in about two to three hours.”
Everyone who makes the trek from Amicalola Falls does so for a different reason. Some come to get away from hectic, everyday lives. Some come to spend time with friends and family. Others come before setting off on the famed Appalachian Trail. The inn is often host to girlfriend getaways and small group outings.
Every day at 5 p.m., guests are offered a tour to learn about eco-friendly facilities, such as composting bins and waterless, yet odorless, toilets. After dinner, hikers gather for programs on wildlife, the Appalachian Trail or other environmental topics.
“Part of our mission is to show how buildings and people can have a minimal impact on our environment,” said Graves. “Kids love checking out the worm beds that we use for composting. Diners are encouraged to not waste food. We have earned LEED certification for our construction and management practices.”
The Hike Inn sits on a mountainside within the Chattahoochee National Forest. A 4.4-mile trail leads to Springer Mountain, the official southern terminus of the famed 2,184-mile Appalachian Trail.
Twenty private guest rooms have bunk beds, screened doors and wall heaters. Meals are served in a colorful dining room, and the bathhouse provides hot showers. A Sunrise Room is filled with games, books and musical instruments.
Comfortable Adirondack chairs are located throughout the property, encouraging guests to sit back and contemplate the natural world.
The Hike Inn is operated by an affiliate of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club and owned by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.