Guidebook

10 of the Best Day Hikes in the Appalachian Mountains

One of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, the Appalachians are entirely underrated as an outdoor destination!

Description

The entire expanse of the Appalachian Mountains is an entirely underrated region of the country, and one of the oldest mountain ranges on planet Earth. "Though not as tall nor as steep as the mountains of the American West, the slopes and summits of the Appalachians are uniquely varied, with everything from dense temperate forest to barren alpine tundra," says adventure travel writer Jesse Weber.

While it seems like the Rocky Mountains—and the Western USA in general—get all the hype, the Appalachians are home to epic outdoor adventures of every stripe. From mountain biking to rock climbing, and from day hikes to the most famous thru-hike in the world, you can find almost every type of adventure imaginable without leaving the East.

And those adventures are not easy by any stretch of the imagination. "The hiking is notoriously difficult. . .with endless roots and rocks to contend with, and anywhere [in the Appalachians] can be subject to mud and miserable weather," says Weber. "In the eastern U.S., it can rain for days on end at any time of year," he warns.

While, of course, the Appalachian Trail is an adventure of a lifetime, what if you don't have the time to dedicate to a 5-7 month thru-hike? And what if you aren't even interested in a several-day section hike? The answer: head out into the mountains for a day hike!

In this guidebook, we've rounded up 10 of the very best hikes in the Appalachian Mountains that can be completed in a day or less. Some of these routes, like the Presidential Traverse, would make for ambitious single-day hikes, with very little time for sleep on that particular day. Others, like the Precipice Trail, offer gorgeous views and plenty of challenge, and yet can still be completed in just a couple of hours.

Whatever your flavor and desired length of hike, this list of 10 epic East Coast hikes will both inspire you to leave the comfort of home and deliver you to one of the most epic landscapes in the Appalachians!

McAfee Knob
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

McAfee Knob

Roanoke
3 - 4 hrs
12.5 km
571 m
570 m
Arguably the most iconic viewpoint on the Appalachian Trail!
Difficult
Private
Appalachian Trail: Franconia Notch to Crawford Notch
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Appalachian Trail: Franconia Notch to Crawford Notch

1 day +
40.4 km
2,546 m
2,591 m
A perfect segment to shuttle, bagging several 4,000-footers along the way.
Severe
Private
Precipice Trail Loop
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Precipice Trail Loop

1 - 2 hrs
3.3 km
370 m
370 m
Climb up metal ladders in cliffsides and skirt along exposed rock ledges on this death-defying hike!
Extreme
Private
Black Mountain Crest Trail
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Black Mountain Crest Trail

Asheville
5 - 6 hrs
17.7 km
1,619 m
558 m
The single most epic ridgeline traverse in the Appalachian Mountains.
Severe
Private
The Presidential Traverse
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Presidential Traverse

1 day +
32.5 km
2,754 m
2,575 m
One of the greatest hikes in White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Severe
Private
Mount Mansfield: Sunset Ridge Trail
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount Mansfield: Sunset Ridge Trail

2 - 3 hrs
8.2 km
770 m
770 m
Widely considered the best trail to the 4,393-foot summit of Mount Mansfield.
Difficult
Private
Blood Mountain
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Blood Mountain

Dahlonega
1 - 2 hrs
7.2 km
432 m
432 m
The most-hiked section of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, thanks to an epic summit view!
Difficult
Private
Mount LeConte via Alum Cave
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount LeConte via Alum Cave

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
4 - 5 hrs
17.1 km
933 m
933 m
A popular route to the summit of Mount LeConte.
Difficult
Private
Mount Katahdin Eastern Approach Loop
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount Katahdin Eastern Approach Loop

4 - 5 hrs
14.6 km
1,196 m
1,196 m
An incredibly challenging and dangerous loop reserved only for the adventurous..
Severe
Private
Old Rag Loop
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Old Rag Loop

3 - 4 hrs
14.5 km
735 m
735 m
A epic and mesmerizing hike — "One of Shenandoah's premier experiences."
Difficult
Private