Len Foote Hike Inn

In October, we usually head to North Georgia to hike, enjoy the nice weather and see some fall colors. This time we booked a room at the Len Foote Hike Inn which can only be reached by hiking 5 miles from the Amicalola Falls State Park.

Here is our hike path from Amicalola Falls to the Inn.

On our return the next day, we decided to take the Appalachian Approach trail which connects Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain.

It was an easy introduction for our trip to LeConte Lodge in the spring.

Raven Cliff Falls

Raven Cliff Falls are beautiful falls located near Helen, GA.

Raven Cliff Falls Trail

Some photos:

Cohutta Wilderness

Getting to Cohutta Wilderness is not easy as you have to drive for more than 20 miles on unpaved roads and then there’s the issue of arranging cars so you can do a point-to-point hike. On the other hand, Lake Conasauga campground is beautiful and Cohutta Wilderness has a number of great hikes.

We took Tearbritches trail to Bray Field, then followed the Conasauga River trail and finally the Hickory Creek trail for a total of 6.45 miles.

The next day, we did a short hike near the campground.

And here are some photos.

Bear Hair Gap Trail

The Bear hair Gap Trail starts in Vogel State Park and takes you to the Blood Mountain Wilderness.

Do go on the half-mile spur trail for a nice view of the lake.

Three Forks Loop

This loop trail requires driving on Forest Service Road 42 for a while to get to the trailhead, but the unpaved road is in good condition and the Appalachian trail is always busy.

Basically, the loop consists of sections of the Appalachian and Benton MacKaye trails which crisscross each other a couple of times in this area around Rich Mountain.

Blood Mountain

A nice loop trail up Blood Mountain is to start on Jarrad Gap trail from Lake Winfield Scott, then go on the Appalachian trail and return to the lake via the Slaughter Creek trail.

Tallulah Gorge

Tallulah Gorge State Park would be fun to go kayaking. But even from the rim it’s very pretty in the fall.

Here’s the Tallulah Gorge South Rim Trail.

North Rim Trail:

Trail to Inspiration Point:

Brasstown Bald Trail

Brasstown Bald is the highest peak in Georgia. There’s a short 0.5 mile hike from the parking lot to the summit which we have done more times than I can count. It has really nice views in the fall.

Smoky Mountains

Fall is the best season to go camping and hiking. And I love the fall colors you can see in the mountains. So once again we headed to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a couple of weeks ago for some camping, riding, hiking and driving.

We had three black bear sightings in the smokies this time.

Here’s the trail to Laurel Falls.

Here’s the trail to the observation tower at the top of Clingman’s Dome which gives a nice view around.

The hike from Clingman’s Dome to Andrews Bald was great and the views from a bald are always the best.

Italy Trip: Technical Note

Free maps from Open Street Maps in Garmin format as well as points of interest were really useful during our vacation in Italy.

We returned from a fun vacation to Italy a couple of days ago. I’ll have an account of the vacation along with photographs soon but first some technical notes.

I checked air fares on Expedia and Orbitz but in the end booked on the Delta website since they were marginally cheaper. Also I was using frequent flier miles to get one ticket for free. The only way I found to book one award ticket (bought with frequent flier miles) and other regular fares was to first reserve the award ticket (since they are less common), then buy the regular fares on the same flights and finally book the award flight.

For hotels, I checked reviews and prices on Trip Advisor to shortlist a few and then used the hotel websites to make reservations.

For planning all the sightseeing and for making a shortlist of restaurants, I used Fodor’s Italy Gold Guide and Lonely Planet’s Italy Guide.

I took my Garmin 60CSx GPSr with me. I found that Open Street Maps had maps available in Garmin format. The ones I liked the best were OpenMTBMap since they were routable and could route for hiking or mountain biking instead of cars. That was a huge success for us in Italy. We never got lost and we used the maps to go everywhere and find restaurants etc. near our location. It made life much easier and even when we wanted to walk around in the back alleys in Venice we could do so without any fear of really getting lost since whenever we wanted to go back we could use the GPS.

The maps came with lots of POIs(Points of Interest), but I wanted some specific ones too: the hotels we were staying in, train stations for travel between Rome and Venice, restaurants, Cafes and Gelaterias that I wanted to go to specially and some important sightseeing. So I used Google Maps to locate these places and saved them to My Maps there. Google Maps’ My Maps allows you to export the list of placemarks in Google Earth (KML) format. Then I used GPS Visualizer to convert the list to GPX format and used Garmin POI Loader to transfer the locations to my GPSr.

I plan our vacations in detail and these maps and list of locations on the GPS were very useful everyday as we went about sightseeing and enjoying Italian food. In fact, while walking around, I would notice that there’s a nice gelateria nearby and we would go enjoy some gelato.

I read almost three books on the Kindle during the trip, even though I read only on planes and trains. While it was a fun experience, I found one some hitch: Flight attendants want you to turn the Kindle off during takeoff and landing.

UPDATE: One thing I forgot. I tried to reserve train tickets between Rome and Venice on the Italian Rail website but it just kept denying my credit card. Apparently, it’s a common problem for credit cards with non-European addresses. However, I didn’t really need to buy the tickets before going there. There was enough space when I made reservations three days before the train travel at the Rome Termini station.