Thru-hiking an epic cross-country trail can be the trip of a lifetime. Of course, one of the first bucket list trails that springs to mind is the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail. Extending from Georgia to Maine, the A.T. is one of the most coveted and well-traveled thru-hikes in the Unites States. That said, not everyone has five months to disappear into the wilderness to hike this goliath. Thankfully, there are plenty of Appalachian Trail section hikes you can tackle—even if you only have a week, whether you’re a beginner or seasoned hiker.
Exactly how long any of these segments will take to hike depends on your fitness level, priorities, and desire (or not) to hustle. If your main objective is to hit every swimming hole along the way, and explore side trails and optional viewpoints and summit vistas, plan on covering five to 10 miles per day. If you’re in top shape, traveling light, and plan on plodding non-stop all day, every day, to get ‘er done, you could double that mileage. Keep in mind that challenging weather, blisters, and other factors can impact those best laid plans.
Visit appalachiantrail.org for packing tips and section hiking pointers. Use the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s free online interactive map where you can overlay parking areas with photos, shelter sites, mileage, and more to kickstart your trip planning. The ATC is a great resource for all things relating to the Appalachian Trail, so consider joining to support the organization, too.
The Appalachian Trail section hikes we cover here are all point-to-point. Check ATC’s Transportation Option page for links to shuttle lists, other parking websites, and a list of transit options for each A.T. state. Shuttle services are available for most sections, but cell service is never guaranteed along the trail. If you plan to shuttle, make arrangements before heading out. Many trailheads aren’t patrolled, so never leave valuables in your vehicle if you’re parking it for a week or two.
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