In north Georgia, near Blood Mountain and the southern terminus of the more than 2,000 mile long Appalachian Trail, many unsuspecting travelers are struck by the strange sight of hundreds of hiking boots. The shoes can be seen hanging from the trees outside the Walasi-Yi Interpretive Center.
On foggy mornings, the sight of all these unexplained suspended shoes makes for an ominous scene and conveys a foreboding feeling of unease. To many people’s surprise, the elevated boots are actually a celebration for having completed one of the most epic journeys in hiking.
The Mountain Crossings store inside the 1930’s era, stone-built Walasi-Yi Interpretive Center, sits near the very end of the Appalachian Trail for hikers traveling more than 2,000-miles south— a journey that starts at Mount Katahdin in Maine.
For those traveling north, this supply store serves as a crucial stop to load up and secure rations for the trek. But for southbound journeyers who have endured several months of hiking, the sight of this checkpoint is a cause for celebration. Many do so by throwing their boots into the trees. Many also leave their packs hanging on the walls inside the center to complete the last few miles of the hike unburdened.
Many less-seasoned hikers joke that the boots in the trees are from those who have already given up by the time they reach this location. But for those who have endured the 2,000-mile journey, these trees represent the ultimate accomplishment and their hanging boots are a testament to that feat.
Know Before You Go
The boots can be seen at any time, but if you'd like to visit the Mountain Crossings store while it's open the hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.