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Annual Dahlonega Trailfest Trip, with optional AT Trail Magic Dayhike and optional Camping hosted by REI

The Basics:
Event Type:Multi-Sport
Event Location: Dahlonega, GA - 1 hour north of Atlanta just off GA-400   Multi-Sport: Annual Dahlonega Trailfest Trip, with optional AT Trail Magic Dayhike and optional Camping hosted by REI   National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Fri, Sep 7 2018  5:00 pm >> Sun, Sep 9 2018 5:00 pm
Registration Opens: Mon, Aug 13 2018 12:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Sep 7 2018 12:00 pm
Event Duration:All Weekend: Come & go as you please! AT Hike is 1PM Sat.
Difficulty Rating:D2: Easy to Moderate
Distance:4 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Charlie Cottingham
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:40
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 26 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


Weather Update:  The latest forecast for Dahlonega expects comfortable temperatures on Fri, Sat & Sun ranging from the high 60s each night to mid-80s each afternoon.  Generally partly cloudy skies, with a chance of light scattered showers or thundershowers each day - ranging from just 10% on Fri & Sat AM to about 60% Sun afternoon.  If we each carry a little lightweight rain gear we should be fine! - Posted by Charlie, 12:00 Noon on Thu Sep 6th.

 Don't miss our 4th annual AOC participation in Trailfest in the lovely mountain town of Dahlonega!  This big friendly celebration of the great outdoors on the Town Square is always a blastwith live music, hiking-camping-backpacking presentations, arts & crafts and much more.  Each year we encourage AOCers to be part of our own Sat afternoon "AT Trail Magic" hiking excursion by carpool-caravaning with us from Dahlonega to the nearby Appalachian Trail.  Also as usual there's a wonderful riverside Camping option
 (inexpensive, for Fri and/or Sat night) expertly hosted by our REI friends.  The big shady group site is just a 5-minute drive (or free shuttle ride) from downtown.  See Details & Directions below for each of these options.  In your AOC event signup Notes please indicate what set of options you plan to do:  i.e, our AT Hike, Camping 1 or more nights, and-or just Hook Up with us at the main downtown Trailfest venue, etc.
  The festival is an easy 1-hour drive up GA-400 from Atlanta and all participants are urged at least to join us on the Town Square Saturday morning (10:30 at the Visitor Center) and hang out with other members, etc. as long as you like.
  For a change this year we won't be erecting a formal AOC tent on the Square, but as usual we encourage everyone to engage in personal "AOC outreach" with other festival attendees by talking up what a fine Club we have and bringing a few "Trail Magic" treats to share both with strangers and friends.
  This will be a "Rain of Shine" event, esp. since we'll have easy access to shelter and to our vehicles all weekend - and don't intend to cancel the trip unless there's severe weather emergency, etc.  Since Dahlonega is so close to Atlanta we're NOT posting a formal event Carpool, but encourage you to arrange to drive up & back with friends or family.

SUMMARY of suggested optional MEETUP TIMES & PLACES, & specific optional GROUP ACTIVITIES over the weekend (with more Details below):
- Fri  Sep 7,   7:00 PM:  AOC Fri night Campers gather at fire ring for happy hour + dinner & campfire (REI-managed Appalachian Outfitters group site just south of town).
       (As discussed below, all campers this year must formally pre-register via the website link and prepay the ~$20 flat fee.)
- Sat Sep 8,   8:45 AM:  AOC "Jake & Bull Mtn Trail Work" Volunteers (who register w/ REI per separate AOC article) meet at project site west of Dahlonega.
- Sat Sep 8, 10:30 AM:  AOC Trailfest attendees meet at Visitor Center on town square.  We'll visit the Attractions, Talks, live Music acts, have Lunch at chosen restaurant(s), etc.
     (Visit for a newly updated Program, etc. for the weekend-long live music, films, lectures & other festivities.)
- Sat Sep 8,   1:00 PM:  AOC Hikers meet at Visitor Center for car caravan to Woody Gap on the AT for ~3-mile "Trail Magic" Hike.
      (Latecomers, etc. are welcome to meet us for the Hike in the Woody Gap parking lot at ~1:45 PM, ~10 miles N of Dahlonega on GA Hwy 60.)
- Sat Sep 8,   6:00 PM:  AOC Sat night Campers gather at fire ring for happy hour + cook-yourself trail food samples, campfire & s'mores provided by REI hosts -
       (Followed by an optional late-evening driving excursion to the town square for barhopping, live music, etc.)
- Sun Sep 9, 11:00 AM: AOC Trailfest attendees meet at Visitor Center for Attractions, Lunch at chosen restaurant, etc. 

IMPORTANT NEW NOTES for AOCers who wish to CAMP!  Everyone who is interested in the optional Trailfest Camping should (ASAP) reserve and pay for a campsite spot FOR YOURSELF by clicking the following link:
I had no problem reserving my own camping spot via this REI web link on Aug 13th.
  See more Details about the Camping Option below.  For a change this year REI is charging a "per-person flat fee" for camping either or both nights, Fri Sep 7th and Sat Sep 8th - $20 per person for REI members (or $30 for non-REI-members - payable in advance online).  The available spots are all likely to be gone soon, as happened last year.  REI's Camping proceeds go to support Dahlonega Trailfest and each of us gets a nice REI T-Shirt.  Also this year campers can take advantage of REI's free 2-way hourly shuttle to Trailfest in downtown Dahlonega or to the "REI Demo Paddling Waterfront" on Lake Zwerner - see map below.  All AOCers who formally confirm yourselves through REI are ALSO urged to register below to receive AOC Trailfest email updates, participate in our group hikes that weekend, etc. - and also to receive AOC "credit" for the event!

MORE about TRAILFEST:  Just 50 miles north of Atlanta, the historic "gold rush" town of Dahlonega is near the southern end of the Appalachian Trail (AT) and is widely known as Georgia's gateway to the legendary 2200-mile-long footpath.  Each year this friendly mountain community celebrates hiking, camping and backpacking by hosting on its town square the wonderful free event called "TrailFest" discussed above.   Produced by hardworking local volunteers, the festival especially honors the hundreds of AT thru-hikers who begin or end their quest nearby. Click here for the main 2018 Festival website:
  For festival details and options click the various topics in the rectangle on that home page. They already include a schedule of "Activities & Hikes, Speakers/ Authors," etc. and may continue to add new things to the website & schedule (including perhaps new details about "Camping" that I'm not yet aware of).

OPTIONAL AOC SAT DAYHIKE on the nearby APPALACHIAN TRAIL:  I hope you can plan to join us for this traditional and always enjoyable ~3-hour hiking excursion.  We'll first gather at 1:00 PM at the Dahlonega Visitor Center (Town Square at corner of E Main & S Park St) where we'll organize an AOC carpool caravan to the AT trailhead at Woody Gap (~10 miles north of Dahlonega via GA-60 - regrouping in that spacious parking lot at about 1:45).  During this scenic and leisurely excursion we'll enjoy chatting with numerous other hikers & backpackers both at the Gap and along the trail, and offer them "Trail Magic" treats and snacks - see suggestions belowFor a change this year our hike will take us "southbound" on the AT from Woody Gap to the spectacular overlook at Ramrock Mtn and back - about 2.5 miles total. 
We expect to be back at our vehicles at Woody Gap by 3:30 or 4:00 PM.  For any in our group who may prefer the option of a longer and more strenuous AT hike, I suggest that they continue southbound from our Ramrock overlook another 5 miles or so to Gooch Gap.  If a shuttle setup is needed for those hikers to drive back to Woody Gap, we can help them arrange that a few minutes prior to our initial gathering at Woody Gap.

CAMPING OPTION DETAILS:  Trailfest this year is again offering up to 2 nights of Camping in the Appalachian Outfitters' lovely shady group campsite. (See Map, Directions and recommended Things to Bring below.) Located on a level grassy bank of the Chestatee River, the campsite just off GA-60/ US-19 - about 2 miles toward Atlanta from the main weekend festivities on Dahlonega's Town Square.   As discussed above the campsite will be managed by our friends at REI, who will also be camping there from Fri evening thru Sunday AM. Space is limited to a max of 100 reserved campers and as discussed above each of us (ASAP) must reserve and pre-pay for our own confirmed spot via their above-linked website.  A convenient free gravel parking area adjoins the campsite - but please Carpool with other campers if possible to conserve space.  Feel free to park and check in with our REI hosts as early as 5:00 PM Friday.  Then they can advise you about setting up your tent or hammock, etc.  (Our AOC "preferred subgroup area" will likely again be mostly in the shady left rear corner of the campsite.)  There's no need to bring much in the way of personal food & refreshments for the weekend. esp. since there are many excellent restaurants & cafes, + a Walmart, etc. within a 5-minute drive of the campsite.  Also our REI hosts will make available a limited number of free sample packets of their hottest-selling freeze-dried backpacking foods (for our preparation on-site if we like, using their "demo" stoves & cookware).  Also REI will host on Saturday night a big campfire, complete with S'mores and the sharing of backpacking stories, etc.  There is NO running water at the campsite, so it's a good idea to bring 3 or 4 gallons of "jugged water" for your personal use.    Portajohn-toilets will be available for campers at the site, but there's no electricity - so bring a personal headlamp, etc.  There are changing rooms, but no showers, and swimming is fine in the adjoining river. Each confirmed camper is welcome to pack up and depart as late as noon on Sunday.

 just 1/4 mile up the road from our Group Campsite!   You Paddlers may want to take advantage of this heavily discounted sale of used Kayaks, Canoes, Paddles, Lifejackets, Helmets, etc. on the morning of Sep 8th.  Get in line early (say by 7:00 AM) for the best deals!  Contact them at 706-864-7117 and/or go to for more about it - also for info about tubing or paddling the Chestatee, etc. over Trailfest weekend.

the hardworking Trailfest volunteers & sponsors from the Lumpkin Coalition, Appalachian Outfitters, Yahoola OutdoorsREI Co-Op and other organizations who make this fine experience happen each year!

MAP of DAHLONEGA & TRAILFEST VENUES showing Main Town Square, Location of our Optional Camping, etc. 

Required Items to Bring:

COMFORTABLE CLOTHING and FOOTWEAR appropriate for the weather forecast.
- DAY PACK for consolidating and carrying your Trail Magic Donations (plus Water, Snacks, extra Clothing Layers, emergency Rain Gear, etc. if you plan to do the optional hike with us.)  See "Trail Magic" suggestions in the adjoining "Recommended..." section.

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

- Water in Jugs or Bottles:  
Important!  Each camper should bring in your vehicle about 2 GALLONS of WATER for EACH night that you plan to spend at the Campsite (in jugs, tappers, etc. - for drinking, cooking, washing, etc. ) There is NO running water available at the campsite.
Camping Gear of your choice including your Tent (or Hammock System), Sleeping Bag, Camp Chair, etc. 
- Food, Refreshments & Supplies of your choice.  
REI campsite staffers will providing demo camp stoves and cooking gear - available for us to use at no charge in lieu of bringing our own.
  Also REI plans to provide cook-yourself free samples of various dehydrated trail meals, etc. (Also keep in mind that numerous excellent Dahlonega restaurants, stores, etc. are an easy 5- to 10-minute drive from the campsite).
- Food & Drink Cooler, with your favorite beverages, pre-prepared snacks, plenty of ice, etc.
- Lightweight Folding Camp Table, if you already have one and can conveniently bring it.  Campsite has several picnic tables available on a "first-come" basls.

  Please bring a few small lightweight donated snacks, refreshments and gifts (of your choice) to share with AT Hikers and other Trailfest attendees. This is totally up to you to decide, but below are some suggestions based on what has been popular and appreciated in past years. Since each of us will presumably bring several things to share there's NO NEED for any AOCer to bring more than perhaps $5 to $10 worth of "stuff." Below are a few specific suggestions, but feel free to be creative and to bring "extras" of anything you may already have on hand at home and consider appropriate (including perhaps a few "gently used" small gear items that you no longer need). Please make sure that anything you bring is PACKAGED APPROPRIATELY. ZipLoc Bags of various sizes are a great idea with the advantage of being resealable and that what's inside can be easily seen! Ideally bring things that you personally enjoy and find useful so you can "sell others on them" etc. Lets all feel free to sample or otherwise share some of the items that we or other AOCers bring - esp. if there's an excess of some items. Here are a few ideas:
- Homemade Brownies
- Homemade "GORP" (or your favorite commercial brand of Trail Mix) in small ZipLoc Snack bags. It's easy to make "Good Ole Raisins & Peanuts" by combining roasted peanuts, raisins, semi-sweet chocolate morsels, etc.
-  Fresh (or dried) Apples, Oranges, Bananas, etc.

- Small Juice Boxes
- Hot Chocolate (in a large thermos, etc. AOC will provide cups.)
- Lemonade (AOC will provide some in a big iced-down cooler + cups.)
- Small Carabiners
- Small Directional Compasses
- Lip Balm, Small tubes of Sunscreen, etc.
- Assortment of clear ZipLoc Bags (inserted inside one another in various sizes. Useful to hikers for consolidating and waterproofing items in their daypacks, backpacks, etc.)

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

DIRECTIONS from ATLANTA to AOC DAHLONEGA VISITOR CENTER on TOWN SQUARE:  Saturday day trip participants are welcome to meet here with the Trip Leader, AOC campers, etc. at 10:30 AM (and/or at 1:00 PM for our driving excursion to Woody Gap for the AT Hike).  See suggested driving & parking directions below.   Feel free to augment these written directions by entering the following concise Lat/Lon as a GPS Destination Address for the Visitor Center, being sure to include the comma and minus sign:  34.5327, -83.9843

1.  From the GA-400/ I-285 Interchange take GA-400 North for about 47 miles to its official end at the GA-60 junction near Dahlonega. (En route note that a convenient meetup spot for "privately arranged custom carpooling" is the Park & Ride lot at the GA-400 Mansell Rd exit in Roswell/Alpharetta - about 9 miles north of I-285.)
2. Turn Left at the traffic light onto GA-60 stay on it about 5 miles to the traffic light just past the McDonalds (on your left).
3.  Continue straight ahead at the light onto S Chestatee Street  into Dahlonega and begin looking for convenient free parking along the side streets, etc.
4.  To reach the Town Square walk about 0.2 mile northward up Chestatee Street.
5.  The spot where we'll meet (at 10:30 AM for the festival and again at 1:00 PM for the optional AT Hike) is the Dahlonega Visitor Center,
 directly on the Square at the SE corner of E Main Street and S Park Street.

GROUP CAMPSITE DIRECTIONS for members confirmed by REI for CAMPING OPTION: (See location indicated on the above area map.)
1.  After the left Turn discussed in step 2 above off GA-400, Campers should proceed northward on GA-60/ US-19 toward Dahlonega for about 4 miles and look for the "Appalachian Outfitters" HQ facility on your left.
2.  Continue another 0.2 mile past the Outfitter HQ and turn Left at the "Appalachian Outfitters Tubing" sign (onto "Golden Ave," just beyond the GA-60 bridge over the Yahoola Creek).
3.  Turn Left again (almost immediately) and bear leftward about 1/4 mile down the gravel road to the "Tubing" parking area and group campsite that adjoins the Chestatee River and Yahoola Creek.
4.  Please Check In with our REI campsite hosts who manage the site and don't hesitate to ask for help with parking, setting up your tent, etc.  We'll target the shady and grassy left side of the campground as our main AOC group area.  Please do your part to keep the campsite neat & clean, and properly dispose of trash, etc. per the Trailfest guidelines.
 GPS and USERS:  Feel free to augment these Group Campsite directions by entering the following Lat/Lon coordinates as your "Destination Address": 34.509, -83.976

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.