See You Down the Trail - Come Backpacking with Me on My Thru-Hike Down the Appalachian Trail

The Ultimate Appalachian Trail Packing List
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They are intended for individual hikers, not big groups. If you're planning a group hike, plan to camp out or to yield space to individual hikers who may not have the resources you do. Many shelters are near good campsites for tenting. Where are the restrooms? Few and far between. Many AT shelters have privies, but often you will need to "go in the woods.

Can I bring my dog? Dogs are permitted along most of the Trail, but they impose additional responsibilities on hikers who bring them along.

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Dogs are required to be on a leash on all National Park Service-administered lands—or more than 40 percent of the entire AT. Can I ride a bike or horse on the AT? Generally, no.

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Are bears and snakes a problem? The problem with snakes and bears is that you won't see them often. Sometimes you only see signs of them, such as tracks or a shed snakeskin.

Meet The Big Three US Thru-Hikes

That's because snakes and bears, and most other animals, shy away from humans. If you do see a snake or a bear, don't try to touch or feed them. Animals along the Trail are wild and should be left alone. How safe is it? Hiking the AT is no more dangerous than many other popular outdoor activities, but, although the Trail is part of the national park system, it is not the proverbial "walk in the park. How long does it take to thru-hike? From four to eight months, depending on how fast you hike.

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The vast majority of thru-hikers are going to see sub-freezing temperatures. If pack weight is your primary concern, down is the best option. A bag at three pounds or less is good, although most ultralight backpackers will aim for something closer . list of what you will and will not need to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Before you tackle more than miles of the greatest hiking trail in most will tell you there is no way to fully prepare for the challenge of Generally speaking, most thru-hikers start at the southernmost trailhead located on Springer on Katahdin where the temperatures will be much cooler than down.

The average is slightly over six months. In , Jennifer Pharr Davis of Asheville hiked it in just 46 days, setting the record for the fastest thru-hike with an average of 47 miles a day insane! In , Scott Jurek broke her record by 3 hours. There is a self-registration facility at the Fontana Dam visitor center. Forms and a deposit box are also available at the "Fontana Hilton" for north-bounders.

Section-hikers considered to be anyone not beginning and ending a hike at least 50 miles outside the park can make reservations by calling GSMNP Reservations Office at That being said all towns are not created equal when it comes to resupply.

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This is where a guidebook can serve you well, as it offers maps of popular towns listing relevant local businesses for hikers. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Henderson Williams. While not a necessary to stay supplied on the A. The concept is essentially a hiker packs desired supplies into a package and then mails said package to a specific destination ahead of them on the trail.

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The intention is that the hiker will then pick up the mailed supplies when they pass by the location the package was mailed to. Mail drops require a lot of logistical preparation. Naturally, the more mail drops desired the more complex the logistics. Fortunately many outfitters and hostels along the A. These options are often better choices than the post-office itself as it also frees the hiker from the strict operation hours of the US Postal Service. Whether you need mail drops or not for your hike is highly dependent on your specific needs on the trail.

Consult the articles below for more insight on if mail drops are for you.

Are dogs allowed?

To me, though, Vermont just felt peaceful. In addition to ponies, the Grayson Highlands section offers long, flat trails with big views at 5, ft above sea level. You are nobody. The Trail is well marked and well maintained. If you happen to find yourself on the Appalachian Trail on that date, chances are you might run into some fellow hikers who are observing the tradition. Studies have shown that going for a nature walk reliably increases creative thinking. Some people take planning to an extreme and chart out a day by day itinerary when section hiking the trail.

Typically towns and other resupply points can be anywhere between 1 — 20 miles away from the trail. For towns a short distance off trail walking is a potential option, but is often highly undesirable for obvious reasons. Some hiker-friendly towns may feature local businesses that offer shuttles for thru-hikers for a reasonable fee usually outfitters or hostels. Similarly there may be resident Trail Angels who openly offer shuttling services to hikers. Willing Trail Angels are often listed in some guidebooks as well as in certain outfitters along the trail.

Failing any other options many thru-hikers commonly resort to hitchhiking. However, this comes with a few considerations worth noting.

Here’s How 5 Thru-Hikers Figured Out Their Lives After The Trail

First and foremost the act of hitchhiking is technically illegal in some form or another in all 14 states that A. Massachusetts only specifically bans the practice on turnpikes or highways. In any case in most states along the A. However, some states have garnered a reputation for stricter enforcement than others, New York and New Jersey in particular. Beyond the fear of legal issues there is an obvious level of risk with accepting rides from strangers. Most drivers near towns around the trail who would stop do so because they are accustomed to the sight of hikers near A. Still, never feel like you have to get into a car with someone just because they are the first to stop.


Plain and simple! Thru-hikers looking to take a night or two off from setting up camp can seek out one of the many hostels set up along the A. Many hostels have become destinations that are looked forward to just as much as other parts of the trail. Every hostel has its own flare and personality often providing a memorable and unique experience for its guests. This is due in no small part to the cast of colorful characters who staff these establishments to offer weary hikers a welcomed respite from the trials of the trail.

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Services commonly provided by hostels can include bunks or beds, showers, laundry, kitchen access, shuttling services, mail drop services, and much more. Some hostels even include breakfast or dinner with their stay. The exact services provided at each hostel will vary and some services may cost additional fees. Some hostels even double as outfitters and vice versa. Some hostels may also offer work-for-stay opportunities for hikers in special circumstances allowing hikers to pay for their stay by doing chores and other tasks for the hostel. Many hostels, though not all, exist primarily with the intention of providing services to A.

As a result a number of hostels are not open year-round and tend to only operate during peak thru-hiker season. Contact and service information for hostels can be found in the A. Hostels may have ingrained themselves as a popular part of the A. While many hostels provide special services to thru-hikers it is important to remember that they are, in fact, businesses. Hostel owners work hard to keep their businesses operating and they are likely not getting rich doing so.

The Ultimate Appalachian Trail Packing List - Backpacker

There are a few hostels that ask for donations rather than charge hikers a set fee for their services. There are a number of legal reasons why a hostel may be donation based, but many of these hostel owners are simply generous people.


Either way, thru-hikers should look to compensate the hostel and its staff in some way for any services rendered, no matter what. Anything is better than nothing. Also, think twice about complaining or trying to haggle down hostel prices.