The Appalachian Trail (AT) is the most famous long backpacking trail in the United States. The 2,174-mile trail runs from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia and crosses through 14 states: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Most of the trail stretches through the wilderness, while some parts journey through towns, roads and cross-rivers.
Here are 4 things you should know about the trail from hiker Dan Valentine:
- The trail is maintained by volunteers – The trail is maintained by a number of trail clubs and partnerships and managed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, a non-profit organization, and the National Park Service. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, over 6,000 volunteers contribute more than 200,000 hours annually keeping the AT available for all to use. Volunteers contribute to every aspect of trail work, including basic maintenance and major projects like building bridges, shelters and new sections of the trail.
- You can read log books from prior hikers – There are various hiker rest areas located throughout the trail, where hikers can take a breather. These rest areas also have log books of other hikers, so you can read about their journeys while taking a short break from the long trek.
- Some portions of the trail cross through people’s property – While most of the trail cuts through the wilderness and publically-owned land, some parts cross through traverse towns and even people’s private property.
- 1 in 4 who attempt a thru-hike successfully completes the journey – While some people take day-trips to parts of the AT, others attempt to walk the entire trail in a single season and are called thru-hikers. Hiking the trail in its entirety generally takes about five to seven months, depending on how fast you hike.