Len Foote Hike Inn

“Above the Grid” Project

Lisa Graves shows her daughters, Kristen and Addie the “Above the Grid” panels — and explains the benefits of solar power
Photo by Eric Graves

Brighter days are ahead for the Len Foote Hike Inn, an environmentally sustainable wilderness lodge — 4.4 Trail miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia — thanks to a 53.72 KW solar photovoltaic array. The inn’s “Above the Grid” solar project supplies nearly 70 percent of the lodge’s electricity and provides a lesson in environmental sustainability for thousands of visitors. A unit of the Georgia State Parks, the Hike Inn is operated by nonprofit Len Foote Hike Inn, Inc. For 18 years, the facility, accessible for guests who hike five miles from Amicalola Falls State Park, has encouraged environmental education and wilderness recreation. The solar project was funded by a grant from All Points North Foundation (APNF) and a low-interest loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA). Radiance Solar installed the equipment. “We are using the sun to provide power, reduce our carbon footprint, and educate guests about alternative energy,” said Hike Inn executive director Eric Graves.

“All Points North Foundation is focused on driving awareness, education, training, and hands-on application of solar power as a practical and cost efficient energy source,” said Laura Staich, executive Director of APNF. “The Hike Inn project puts the practical value of solar front and center by educating guests across the age spectrum about how they can conserve energy through sustainability practices such as solar energy.”

Among Sustainable Systems at the Hike Inn Are:

  • A solar water heating system supplying the bathhouse
  • Composting toilets, which save more than 200,000 gallons of water annually
  • A LEED gold-level architectural design to conserve water and energy while reducing pollution
  • A composting system for food waste supplemented by vermiculture (earthworms)

“Approximately 9,000 guests per year stay at the Hike Inn,” says Hike Inn Board president Richard Judy. “They enjoy our leave-no-trace, unplugged philosophy while learning about sustainable ways to save energy and conserve resources. Our direct trail connection to the Appalachian Trail makes us a popular spot for backpackers and day hikers to stop for a refreshing drink and learn a little at the same time.”

The Hike Inn’s Outside School teaches a diverse range of students and their leaders about natural history and sustainability. “‘Above the Grid’ is one more way to inspire young people to work for a sustainable future,” said Graves.

For more information visit: hike-inn.com and allpointsnorthfoundation.org