Guidebook

The Appalachian Trail

The renowned Appalachian Trail stretches for 2,200 miles along an entire mountain range, across 14 states in the Eastern USA.

Description

The Appalachian Trail (often referred to as simply the "AT") is one of the most famous long-distance hiking trails in the world, and certainly the most well known in the United States. This impressive footpath begins in the Southeast, in the state of Georgia, and finishes in the Northeast in Maine, following the spine of the Appalachian mountain range. Though anyone can hike sections of the AT at will, the ultimate achievement is to thru-hike the 2,200 miles from end to end in one journey.

Such a feat requires 5-7 months on the trail, not to mention prior months of planning that must be done. For the hundreds of people who complete the thru-hike every year, however, the payoff is well worth the work.

Hikers of the entire AT get to experience all of the best mountain scenery that the eastern U.S. has to offer. The trail summits many of the tallest mountains in the eastern part of the continent, including 6,643-foot Clingmans Dome on the Tennessee-North Carolina border and the wind-whipped summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire at 6,288 feet.

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. The hiking is notoriously difficult in some stretches, with endless roots and rocks to contend with, and anywhere along the trail can be subject to mud and miserable weather. In the eastern U.S., it can rain for days on end at any time of year.

Consequently, a thru-hike of the AT is a truly monumental accomplishment. The majority of people who backpack on this trail do not hike the entirety of the AT in one go, but instead choose one of its many distinct sections to do as day hikes or multi-day trips. Some people make it a goal to “section hike” the entire AT, covering all its miles over the course of multiple trips.

Backpackers on the Appalachian Trail carry all their own gear and camp backcountry style. There are shelters positioned incrementally along the trail, but space within the shelters is first come, first served only. While it is possible to hike the entire AT and save weight by staying only in shelters, such a strategy is risky because you may not be able to get to a shelter by nightfall or during bad weather, and even when you arrive it may be full. Most hikers carry enough gear to be fully self-sufficient.

No specific permit or registration is required to hike the AT or to camp along it, with the exception of camping permits required in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. Camping and campfire regulations may vary by location and season along the trail as well. Planning for such particulars is part of the complicated logistics for a long hike on the AT. Other considerations include what to pack, what time of year to go, resupply points, and transportation to and from the trail.

The majority of thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail begin at Springer Mountain in Georgia (the southern terminus) in March or April and finish at Mount Katahdin in Maine (the northern terminus) in August or September. This schedule maximizes warm weather. Some start in the north, however. Others elect to start somewhere in the middle, finish at one end, then travel back to hike the other half. This strategy allows for easier terrain, and frequent resupplies early in the trip, and thinner crowds along the trail.

Sources:
http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/explore-the-trail/thru-hiking
http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/explore-the-trail/explore-by-state
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachian_Trail

Amicalola Falls AT Approach Trail

Amicalola Falls AT Approach Trail

Dahlonega
13.2 km
The 8-mile approach to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Springer Mountain to Neels Gap

Appalachian Trail: Springer Mountain to Neels Gap

Dahlonega
48.7 km
The southern terminus for the world-renowned Appalachian Trail.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Neels Gap to Dicks Creek Gap

Appalachian Trail: Neels Gap to Dicks Creek Gap

Dahlonega
58.2 km
An AT segment through remote North Georgia Wilderness.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Dicks Creek Gap to Winding Stair Gap

Appalachian Trail: Dicks Creek Gap to Winding Stair Gap

63.8 km
The Appalachian Trail Crosses into North Carolina and summits the first peaks over 5,000 feet.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Winding Stair Gap to Nantahala Outdoor Center

Appalachian Trail: Winding Stair Gap to Nantahala Outdoor Center

42.5 km
A beautiful trek across Wayah and Wesser Balds.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Nantahala Outdoor Center to Fontana Dam

Appalachian Trail: Nantahala Outdoor Center to Fontana Dam

44.1 km
A remote stretch connecting two iconic landmarks via the summit of Cheoah Bald.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Fontana Dam to Newfound Gap

Appalachian Trail: Fontana Dam to Newfound Gap

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
66.1 km
The approach to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap

Appalachian Trail: Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
52.2 km
The second half of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Davenport Gap to Hot Springs

Appalachian Trail: Davenport Gap to Hot Springs

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
53.3 km
The trek to Max Patch Mountain, a bald, grassy summit with 360° views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Hot Springs to Sam's Gap

Appalachian Trail: Hot Springs to Sam's Gap

68.8 km
An AT segment with a ridgeline traverse, bald summits, and extensive history.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Sam's Gap to Nolichucky River

Appalachian Trail: Sam's Gap to Nolichucky River

37.8 km
A shorter AT segment best known for its summit of Big Bald.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Nolichucky River to Wilder Mine Hollow

Appalachian Trail: Nolichucky River to Wilder Mine Hollow

73.9 km
The trek across the Unaka Mountains and Roan Highlands, where fields of rhododendron and bald summits await.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Wilder Mine Hollow to Watauga Lake

Appalachian Trail: Wilder Mine Hollow to Watauga Lake

47.3 km
A picturesque AT segment highlighting a series of waterfalls.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Watauga Lake to Damascus

Appalachian Trail: Watauga Lake to Damascus

64.6 km
A ridgeline traverse into the iconic trail town of Damascus.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Damascus to Massie Gap

Appalachian Trail: Damascus to Massie Gap

47.7 km
The trek from the iconic trail town of Damascus to Mount Rogers and the Grayson Highlands
Private
Appalachian Trail: Massie Gap to I-81

Appalachian Trail: Massie Gap to I-81

68.1 km
A relaxing stretch crossing The Scales and ending at Interstate 81
Private
Appalachian Trail: I-81 to I-77

Appalachian Trail: I-81 to I-77

67.4 km
Crossing the one-quarter mark of the roughly 2,200-mile-long AT.
Private
Appalachian Trail: I-77 to Pearisburg

Appalachian Trail: I-77 to Pearisburg

68.0 km
A trek across endless Brushy Mountains, past Dismall Falls, and ending at New River.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Pearisburg to VA-630

Appalachian Trail: Pearisburg to VA-630

63.1 km
A series of long ridgeline traverses, ending with a summit of the picturesque Kelly Knob.
Private
Appalachian Trail: VA-630 to McAfee Knob Trailhead

Appalachian Trail: VA-630 to McAfee Knob Trailhead

46.8 km
The trek to the iconic Dragon's Tooth formation.
Private
Appalachian Trail: McAfee Knob Trailhead to Blackhorse Gap

Appalachian Trail: McAfee Knob Trailhead to Blackhorse Gap

Roanoke
52.2 km
The iconic AT segment home to McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Blackhorse Gap to James River

Appalachian Trail: Blackhorse Gap to James River

66.6 km
A strenuous and remote section of the AT through backcountry and Wilderness areas.
Private
Appalachian Trail: James River to VA-56

Appalachian Trail: James River to VA-56

72.0 km
An epic route across the Blue Ridge connecting low river valleys to high peaks.
Private
Appalachian Trail: VA-56 to Rockfish Gap

Appalachian Trail: VA-56 to Rockfish Gap

44.7 km
A shorter segment lined with excellent day hiking and overnight opportunities.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Rockfish Gap to Swift Run Gap

Appalachian Trail: Rockfish Gap to Swift Run Gap

70.4 km
The southern portion of Shenandoah National Park, full of day hiking and overnight opportunities.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Swift Run Gap to Thorton Gap

Appalachian Trail: Swift Run Gap to Thorton Gap

54.9 km
The central district of Shenandoah National Park, known for the picturesque Hawksbill Overlook.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Thorton Gap to Tucker Lane

Appalachian Trail: Thorton Gap to Tucker Lane

55.9 km
This section of the Appalachian Trail crosses over Hogback Mountain, the Marshalls, and then heads through Trumbo Hollow.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Tucker Lane to Harpers Ferry

Appalachian Trail: Tucker Lane to Harpers Ferry

69.9 km
The AT passes through the lowlands, ending at Harpers Ferry
Private
Appalachian Trail: Harpers Ferry to PA-16

Appalachian Trail: Harpers Ferry to PA-16

66.3 km
Hike 41 miles through Maryland on the Appalachian Trail.
Private
Appalachian Trail: PA-16 to Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Appalachian Trail: PA-16 to Pine Grove Furnace State Park

52.5 km
The beginning of Rocksylvania passing through Michaux State Forest.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Pine Grove Furnace State Park to Clark's Ferry

Appalachian Trail: Pine Grove Furnace State Park to Clark's Ferry

72.1 km
The halfway point for the Appalachian Trail.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Clark's Ferry to Swatara Gap

Appalachian Trail: Clark's Ferry to Swatara Gap

53.0 km
Two long ridgeline traverses through remote backcountry.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Swatara Gap to Schuylkill Gap

Appalachian Trail: Swatara Gap to Schuylkill Gap

56.7 km
An excellent section hike or trail run lined with overlooks and overnight camping opportunities.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Schuylkill Gap to Lehigh Gap

Appalachian Trail: Schuylkill Gap to Lehigh Gap

62.2 km
A Pennsylvania segment of the AT lined with beautiful overlooks.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Lehigh Gap to Delaware Water Gap

Appalachian Trail: Lehigh Gap to Delaware Water Gap

57.5 km
A popular segment for day hiking with killer views all the way to Delaware Water Gap.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Delaware Water Gap to High Point State Park

Appalachian Trail: Delaware Water Gap to High Point State Park

65.3 km
Traversing the Kittatinny Ridge to High Point State Park.
Private
Appalachian Trail: High Point State Park to Mount Peter

Appalachian Trail: High Point State Park to Mount Peter

53.1 km
Winding through farmlands, across the Boardwalk, and into Wawayanda State Park.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Mount Peter to Bear Mountain Bridge

Appalachian Trail: Mount Peter to Bear Mountain Bridge

48.4 km
A winding and scenic stretch past countless ponds and climbs over several prominent mountains.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Bear Mountain Bridge to NY-22

Appalachian Trail: Bear Mountain Bridge to NY-22

68.3 km
This section passes Anthony's Nose, Canopus Lake, Nuclear Lake, and Cat Rocks ending at the Appalachian Trail Station .
Private
Appalachian Trail: NY-22 to Salisbury

Appalachian Trail: NY-22 to Salisbury

82.1 km
A long stretch paralleling the Housatonic River and rich with history.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Salisbury to US-20

Appalachian Trail: Salisbury to US-20

76.2 km
The first half of Massachusetts, widely renowned for Mount Everett and Guilder Pond.
Private
Appalachian Trail: US-20 to MA-2

Appalachian Trail: US-20 to MA-2

65.2 km
The AT traverses the largest state forest to the highest summit in Massachusetts.
Private
Appalachian Trail: MA-2 to Stratton Pond

Appalachian Trail: MA-2 to Stratton Pond

61.0 km
The AT transitions from the Berkshires of Massachusetts to the Green Mountains of Vermont.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Stratton Pond to Big Branch

Appalachian Trail: Stratton Pond to Big Branch

51.7 km
A remote Vermont stretch of the AT known for its summit of Stratton Mountain and Peru Peak.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Big Branch to US-4

Appalachian Trail: Big Branch to US-4

47.6 km
An epic segment through the high country of Vermont, summiting Killington Peak.
Private
Appalachian Trail: US-4 to Hanover

Appalachian Trail: US-4 to Hanover

72.4 km
A easily shuttled stretch of the AT, connecting Killington Mountain to the Connecticut River.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Hanover to Oliverian Notch

Appalachian Trail: Hanover to Oliverian Notch

63.7 km
The introduction to the White Mountains, summiting Smart's Mountain and Mount Cube.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Oliverian Notch to Franconia Notch

Appalachian Trail: Oliverian Notch to Franconia Notch

36.4 km
Summiting Mount Moosilauke and Mount Kinsman via the Appalachian Trail
Private
Appalachian Trail: Franconia Notch to Crawford Notch

Appalachian Trail: Franconia Notch to Crawford Notch

40.4 km
A perfect segment to shuttle, bagging several 4,000-footers along the way.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Crawford Notch to Pinkham Notch

Appalachian Trail: Crawford Notch to Pinkham Notch

37.5 km
Summit the highest peak in the northeast, Mount Washington.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Pinkham Notch to Grafton Notch

Appalachian Trail: Pinkham Notch to Grafton Notch

72.2 km
A beautiful segment of the AT, summiting the final 4,000-footers in New Hampshire before heading into Maine.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Grafton Notch to Rumford Road

Appalachian Trail: Grafton Notch to Rumford Road

47.9 km
A stretch of the AT through Maine known for its summit of Baldpate and Bemis Mountains.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Rumford Road to Carrabassett Drive

Appalachian Trail: Rumford Road to Carrabassett Drive

65.2 km
A beautiful AT segment known for its traverse over Saddleback Mountain.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Carrabassett Drive to Spectacle Pond

Appalachian Trail: Carrabassett Drive to Spectacle Pond

109.2 km
A long segment of the AT that's perfect for backpacking, but still providing a couple of shorter day hikes along the way.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Spectacle Pond to Katahdin Stream Campground

Appalachian Trail: Spectacle Pond to Katahdin Stream Campground

163.8 km
The infamous 100-Mile Wilderness of the Appalachian Trail.
Private
Appalachian Trail: Katahdin Stream Campground to Mount Katahdin

Appalachian Trail: Katahdin Stream Campground to Mount Katahdin

14.7 km
The northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail on the top of Mount Katahdin.
Private
Mount Katahdin via the Abol Trail

Mount Katahdin via the Abol Trail

12.2 km
The shortest, most direct route to Mount Katahdin.
Private
Mount Katahdin Eastern Approach Loop

Mount Katahdin Eastern Approach Loop

14.6 km
An incredibly challenging and dangerous loop reserved only for the adventurous..
Private