The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is the original long-distance hiking trail in the United States. It stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is approximately 2,189 miles long with an average elevation of 6,214 feet above sea level. The A.T. was conceived by Benton MacKaye who envisioned it as a challenge to test oneself and build self-confidence.
And as it turned out, he wasn’t just talking about himself when he said this – many people have since become inspired by MacKaye’s vision to follow their own trails and find their own challenges in life. It’s no wonder why so many people want to try out the A.T., though!
Not only does it offer gorgeous views and serene natural settings that are well worth the effort of getting there; but, most importantly for first-time hikers, it’s also one of the most accessible long-distance hiking trails around – with minimal equipment and accommodations required for your trip!
The A.T. is not a race
The trail is not a race. It’s a challenge that anyone can take on. It doesn’t matter what your age or fitness level is – anyone can hike the A.T. If you want to sign up for the challenge, all you need to do is get yourself out there and see what’s possible.
The A.T. is a way to challenge yourself, and to connect with the natural world in a whole new way. It’s not about setting yourself a time or distance goal – it’s about pushing yourself as hard as you can and seeing what you’re made of. Trail crews like thruhikers and section hikers are a hard-working group of people who love to help fellow hikers.
There are also many A.T. nonprofits who provide free food and other services to hikers. All of this makes the A.T. a great place to meet people from all kinds of backgrounds, and learn important lessons about caring for the environment and working together as a human community.
You can’t hike the entire trail in one go
The A.T. is not a one-way ticket to trail glory. You’re not allowed to hike it in one go – there are rules about how long you can walk and where you can camp. Although you can start the A.T. at any time of the year, you’re most likely to find yourself in the southern section of the trail in the spring and summer. This is the season when the majority of hikers head out. The northern section of the trail is the least used and is therefore the most remote.
There are tons of ways to tackle the trail
There are tons of ways to tackle the trail, and that’s what makes the A.T. so appealing. You can hike it in sections, try an ultra-running style, or do a section hike as a one-way challenge. You can even hike the Trail as a return trip, with someone else acting as your guide. No matter how you choose to tackle the trail, you’ll still be leaving your mark.
You can take an AT shuttle if you choose
If you’re not sure about tackling the A.T. on your own, you don’t have to go it alone. There are many organizations online who offer AT shuttle services to help experienced hikers like you get from one section of the trail to another. You’ll be able to sleep in a bed, eat hot meals, and hike with experienced hikers as you shuttle from one section of the trail to the next.
Don’t expect to find amenities along the way – unless you’re hiking with a group
Although you might see other hikers occasionally with a backpack, most of the time you’ll be doing things on your own. This might be part of the appeal for some hikers – they enjoy the solitude of hiking the trail and don’t want to be bothered by crowds and crowds. But, if you’re planning to hike the whole trail in one go, you’ll find it’s easier to stay in one place for a long time, especially when you’re on the northern section of the trail in the winter.
This is when many of the big towns on the A.T. are closed. The south section of the A.T. is more spread out, and, as a result, there are more amenities between the trail and towns along the way. You’ll be able to find a grocery store, restaurants, and even AT shelters to stay in.
Final words on why you should try out the Appalachian Trail
We’ve gone through all the important things you should know before hiking the Appalachian Trail. And now, it’s time to get out there and sign up for this amazing challenge! Whether you’re a first-timer, an experienced hiker, or somewhere in between, the A.T. is a great way to challenge yourself and connect with nature. So, what are you waiting for? Start your journey today!