Hiking The Appalachian Trail

The Longest Hiking Path in the United States:

The Appalachian Trail is a hiking path that is 2,170 miles long and crosses through 14 separate states as it climbs Northward from George to Maine. The Mountain Range that covers this trail is massive, being shaped over ½ a billion years. As beautiful as this trail is, it is known as the people’s trail because it was created by Americans and is maintained by a vast number of volunteers.

Appalachian Trail’s Four Sections:

For more than ½ the U.S. population, the Appalachian Trail is less than a day’s drive away. Yet very few people experience it. The trail is divided in to 4 different sections including: the first (lower section) called the Southern Mountains, the Virginia Highlands, the Mid-Atlantic Lowlands, and New England.

If you plan on hiking the Southern Mountains then you must go to the trailhead at the top of Springer Mountain, in Georgia. The trail head is nearly 10 miles from the road where the hikers are dropped off. Many of the hikers are shuttled by drivers who are a part of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. The club does its best to inform hikers of the dangers of the trail. Some of these dangerous include: dehydration, pneumonia, starvation, injury, bears, and even acid rain.

The hike can be extensive, depending on what type of hike you plan on doing. The average Hiker will hike an average of 15 miles per day.  There are three types of hikers on the trail including: day hikers, section hikers, and through hikers. Day Hikers only hike for a single day. Section Hikers will hike a small section of the trail which will take on an average of 1 week. Though Hikers will hike the entire Appalachian Trail, taking approximately 4-6 months to complete. Approximately 2000 hikers will attempt to hike the entire trail but only 1 in 4 will succeed. Of those 2000 hikers, 15% of them will quit within just a couple of days.

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Packing Light:

The biggest reason for this is that new hikers tend to pack too heavily. Within a few days, the Appalachian Trail will run into a former inn which has been converted to a hiking store. Often hikers will drop off a lot of their heavy equipment at this point. The average hiker will ship approximately 4.5 lbs home. In a single year, the store will mail home 4.5 tons of equipment that hikers decided that they don’t need. Common items include machetes, hatchets, tents, extra food, water bottles, and bear mace. Ultralight backpacking becomes a simple matter of learning what you absolutely need and then getting rid of the extra baggage. Any experienced hiker will also make sure that they purchase the lightest possible gear including: sleeping pads, backpacks, tents, stoves, and sleeping bags.

Finishing the Trail:

Once the trail passes through Georgia, hikers will continue through the Southern Mountains in to North Carolina, crossing the Fontana Dam and along the Tennessee state line. Then it will pass through a few national forests and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. It is in this section that hikers will reach the highest part of the trail at Clemons Dome.

The trail continues in to the Virginia Highlands and brushes against West Virginia’s state line before entering the Mid Atlantic Lowlands and in to Maryland. The trail continues in to Pennsylvania, swings east and goes along the New Jersey and New York borders before entering Connecticut where the New England section begins. The trail continues through Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and finally ends in the northern section of Maine at a mountain top called Kathadin.

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