Watching Sunrise on the Equinox

19 March 2023

Tomorrow the Spring Equinox will occur at 5:24pm EDT. Some will mark the day by visiting a celestial calendar, a structure where sunrise lines up with particular stones. At Angor Wat, below, the sun rises behind the middle tower.

Equinox sunrise over top of the middle tower of Angkor Temple, Angor Wat, Cambodia, March 2012 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In the U.S. there’s a granite celestial calendar behind the Len Foote Hike Inn at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. Pictured at top, the Star Base includes a granite keyhole, a shelter (cave) and Adirondack chairs for viewing.

Tonight the Hike Inn is probably full to capacity with all 20 bunkrooms in use. Tomorrow everyone will be up and out before dawn to watch the sun rise.

The Hike Inn as seen from Star Base, March 2009 (photo by Kelly Stewart via Flickr Creative Commons license)

Newcomers usually visit the Star Base beforehand so they know what to expect.

Nashville Hiking Meetup members visit the Star Base, 2009 (photo by Kelly Stewart via Flickr Creative Commons license)

The next morning they watch from the cave.

Waiting for Spring Equinox sunrise, 2009 (photo by Kelly Stewart via Flickr Creative Common license)

The most famous aspect of the Hike Inn is not the Star Base but the fact that you have to hike 5 miles to get to it. No vehicle access. Check-in at the Amicalola Falls State Park Visitors Center, park your car at the trailhead and start your hike. The Appalachian Trail’s southern terminus at Springer Mountain is (relatively) nearby.

Trail sign for the Hike Inn (photo by Kelly Stewart via Flickr Creative Commons license)

Upon arrival put your phone in airplane mode. The Hike Inn is intentionally unplugged, though they do have electricity (mostly solar). No TV, no radio, no phone … just enjoy the quiet time.

Arriving at the Hike Inn, 2009 (photo by Kelly Stewart via Flickr Creative Commons license)

Because the equinox is late in the day on 20 March there may be two sunrises, March 20 & 21, that come close to perfect.

Sunrise at the Equinox 20 March 2004 from the Hike Inn, Georgia (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

For more information about lodging, check out the Hike Inn website.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons and by Kelly Stewart on Flickr via Creative Commons license; click on the captions to see the originals)

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