How To Hike the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail (AT) is a beautiful 2,178 mile long footpath with its northern end on top of Mt. Katahdin in Maine and its southern end at the peak of Springer Mountain in Georgia. Founder Benton MacKaye envisioned the AT as a path connecting work camps and mountain communities from Maine to Georgia. The AT has been enjoyed by many hikers since it first opened and hiking the Appalachian Trail is easier than you might think.

  • The first and most crucial step to having a successful hike on the Appalachian Trail is planning. Where will you start? Where will you finish? Are you going to hike the entire AT? Once you have figured out your trip outline you can move onto preparing.
  • Now that you have your plan you need to get your supplies. You will need a sturdy pair of hiking boots, preferably waterproof, and several pairs of good hiking socks. You will need a backpacking backpack, not a day pack. Tents, sleeping bags and mats will need to be bought as well. Do not forget things like flashlights, fire starting kits and water purifiers!
  • Next you have to plan food for your hike. This is especially critical if you are going to be back country camping for long periods of time. Food must be nutritionally dense yet weigh next to nothing. Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are the way to go here.

Okay, so you have your plan, your gear and your food and that means you are ready to hike the Appalachian Trail. Step out onto that trail and get hiking! Be sure to have an accurate map of the AT with you, and better yet, have a GPS. The Appalachian Trail is marked with white rectangular trail blazes, usually paint swatches on the trees. Since it is well-traveled you should not have any problems following the trail.

Mind the rules of the road: always stay to the right, let people pass on the left. Camp minimally--take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. You may even want to pack out your waste. Take care to drink plenty of fluids and snack often. Be courteous to other hikers and be even more courteous to the animals who are sharing their home with you. The same rules and suggestions apply if you are going to hike the Appalachian Trail for just an afternoon.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail is a rewarding and exciting endeavor. Enjoy your trip!


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