“Walasi-Yi”… What in the world does that mean? Some foreign language? No…. its one of the words from the true American language of the Cherokee Indians. Walasi-Yi is where the Appalachian Trail crosses US Highway 129 and then travels right through the building at about the 31 mile mark and just north of the Blood Mountain Shelter. Mountain Crossings is the friendly store and outfitter that meets hikers and road travelers alike with a friendly atmosphere.
Walasi-Yi is, in Cherokee History, the name for the gap and reportedly means “Home of the Giant Frog”. It’s just below the building and early settlers called it Frogtown Gap.
The building that sits on what is now know as Neel Gap was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 which was also the year the the Appalachian Trail was completed. The building was first living quarters for the CCC, but eventually became a restaurant. In the early 2000s it became the outfitter that we know today that serves hikers and travelers throughout the year. It processes mail drops and provides a hostel for hikers walking the Appalachian Trail.
There is always a friendly face and the employees are seasoned backpackers who provide the most professional service. Venturing outside, you can pass through the building on the Appalachian Trail. There are beautiful views just a short stroll into the trail. There is almost a silent calling that draws you into the trail and if you dont catch yourself, you will find that you have walked quite a distance farther than you anticipated. Here is a short video of the trail through the building and about 1/4 mile north: Appalachian Trail at Mountain Crossings
If wanting to visit, the parking is ample, but if wanting to camp or hike, I suggest parking about 3/4 of a mile north on Hwy 129 at the trailhead parking. From there you can visit the store and hit the trail in the direction you want to head. One suggestion is to hike to the Blood Mountain Shelter just south of Mountain Crossings. It is a wonderful structure and one of the highlights of visiting the trail.
Regardless of where you go, don’t hesitate to stop in at this backpacker’s trail oasis on your trip to North Georgia.