welcome to Hante MacKaye

If there’s an individual that embodied the Eagle’s Nest mission, it was Benton MacKaye. The architect of the Appalachian Trail grew up learning by going out and doing, particularly outdoors. As his close friend and biographer once wrote, “His direct, first-hand education through the senses and feelings, with its deliberate observation of nature in every guise—including the human animal—has nourished MacKaye all his life.” It is only fitting, then, that a trail with such glorious ridgeline views, diverse vegetation, and countless water features would name itself after an individual who sought to learn from being outside and, more importantly, ensured others could learn from being outside as well. Beginning at the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail in north Georgia, the Benton MacKaye Trail provides a remote and scenic experience seldom offered in places near such high population densities. On this Hante, you will get to develop your intrapersonal and interpersonal skills through a ten day backpacking trip in one of the most pristine sections of southern old growth deciduous forest, all the while bridging the experience to and from Eagle’s Nest, and climbing and paddling some of the most sought after destinations in the Southeast.


July 16-August 4, 2023 (meets at Eagle’s Nest Camp)
For participants completing grades 7th through 11th grade in Spring 2023
Cost: $4,900

The Heart of Hante

Trips Goals and Highlights

  • Experience and appreciate the Appalachian Mountains, one of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet
  • Summit twenty mountains across north Georgia and southeast Tennessee
  • Raft down the famous whitewater of the Ocoee River, the location for canoe slalom competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta
  • Boulder and climb various crags across north Georgia and Southeast Tennessee

MacKaye Itinerary

  • July 16: Group meets at Eagle’s Nest Camp. The afternoon will be spent getting to know each other and setting goals for the upcoming adventure.
  • July 17-18: Overnight backpacking trip in Pisgah National Forest. The group will begin learning and practicing their backcountry skills with a short backpacking trip to Pisgah National Forest, in Eagle’s Nest backyard. This will help to establish an outdoor leadership philosophy, to understand the group’s strengths and areas for improvement, to prepare them for the trek ahead.
  • July 19: On-campus food and gear pack-out, and travel to trailhead. This day will be a busy one! Most of it will be spent on campus focusing on final trip preparations like packing out food and gear. By the end of the day, the group will have traveled and setup camp in Amicalola, Georgia, along the approach trail to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
  • July 20-July 29: Trekking the Benton MacKaye Trail. The journey begins! Over the course of this epic ten day trek spanning over forty miles, the group will work together to navigate mountainous terrain and reach inspiring summits. Evenings will be spent camping under the stars, preparing delicious food (particularly with the help of a resupply midway through), debriefing the day’s adventures, and enjoying time together.
  • July 30: Whitewater rafting on the famous Ocoee River. The group will complete their trek and travel to the Ocoee Whitewater Center, where they will be able to paddle the same river as Olympians did 27 years before them.
  • July 31-August 2: Bouldering and climbing around northwest Georgia and southeast Tennessee. Using Cloudland Canyon State Park as a basecamp, the group will venture to some of the most popular spots in the southeast, honing their skills and building on the teamwork they have developed over the course of the trip.
  • August 3: Group returns to Eagle’s Nest Camp for de-issue, debrief, and closing ceremony. Participants return to a hero’s welcome on campus. After de-issuing all gear and debriefing their time together, they’ll celebrate their achievements with a special dinner and closing ceremony.
  • August 4: Departure! Participants depart and spread their leadership knowledge to the greater world.

Hante MacKaye Equipment List:


Detailed PDF of Hante MacKaye Equipment List Coming Soon


To apply for a Hante Adventure:

All Hante participants and their parents must complete a Questionnaire before being considered for acceptance. (*) Select Hantes have an application deadline of November 15th and are not eligible for the Early Bird Discount.  Rolling admittance pending availability after November 15th for (*)Hantes.




All Added Adventure, Hante Adventures, and Junior Counselor participants and their parents or guardians must complete all questionnaires before being considered for the program. Questionnaires are available with registration on CampDoc.   

Questions about your application or having trouble getting started? Please email us at register@enf.org or call us at 336-761-1040.


Register for a 2023 Hante Adventures!
Hante Adventures Registration! >>