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The Ultimate Guide to the Appalachian Trail: Gear, Guides & More

The Appalachian Trail is one the United States big three national scenic trails.

Spanning 2,190 miles the trail navigates the lands of the Appalachian Mountains and goes through 14 states and construction of the trail was completed in 1937.

Much of the trail was built by volunteers as well as the Civilian Conservation Corps, with its first section being completed in New York. Starting at Springer Mountain, Georgia, and ending at Mount Katahdin, Maine, the trail receives around 3 million people each year.

Every year, over 3,000 people attempt to hike the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. Roughly a quarter of those who attempt to hike the entire Appalachian trail succeed.

Hiking the trail requires much preparation and conditioning, but it is achievable.

While every thru-hiker will see the same things while navigating the trail, it can be helpful to be aware of places near or on the trail that are worth spending time at. 

Appalachian Trail Guide

Gear Needed for the Appalachian Trail

The gear list needed to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail is extensive.

It takes the average thru-hiker 5 to 7 months to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, meaning one will need proper gear to survive in the wilderness for at least that long.

You will need a good backpacking bag, a camping stove, a tent, a ground bad, a sleeping bag, a water filtration system, and much more.

It is important to bring emergency gear like an emergency radio. You want to pack as lightly as possible when preparing to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Remember to pack minimal clothing, while also making sure you are prepared for any weather conditions.

When it comes to the food you pack, most backpackers pack dehydrated meals that can be heated with a camping stove.

It is important to plan on stopping to acquire more food and any other previsions that you may need.

If you are planning on thru-hiking the trail, it can be helpful to have a friend or family member meet you at designated locations to provide more food and other necessary provisions.

The 8 Best Things to Do and See on the Appalachian Trail 

#1 Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Clingman’s dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as the highest point in Tennessee.

The peak of the dome has an observation tower that offers 360 degree views of the green trees and plant-life covering the Smoky Mountains.

If you visit the Smoky Mountains at the right time of the year, you can get views of vibrant fall leaves as far as the eye can see. 

#2 Grayson Highlands, Virginia

The Grayson Highlands, near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, is home to wild ponies and oxen. Hikers can enjoy views of peaks over 5,000 feet tall. 

#3 Franklin, North Carolina

Franklin is a small community surrounded by beautiful nature and waterfalls. Franklin is a great place to rest or purchase provisions along the trail. 

#4 Mount Greylock War Memorial Tower, Massachusetts

The war memorial tower on Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts. The old stone tower is a great place to stop and observe an important piece of history. At 3,491 feet, you can see beautiful scenery 60-90 miles out. 

#5 Presidential Range, New Hampshire

The Presidential Range is a famous place to backpack for those on and off the Appalachian Trail. The highest mountain in the range is Mount Washington standing at 6,288 feet.

The range is called the Presidential range as a majority of its mountains are named after past presidents. 

#6 Killington Peak, Vermont

Killington Peak is the second highest peak in the Green Mountains. Only a slight detour from the  trail, you can summit the mountain and camp near the top.

The campsite near the summit comes with beautiful views. 

#7 Bear Mountain, Connecticut

With an elevation of over 2,000 feet, Bear Mountain is the tallest peak in Connecticut. The summit provides beautiful views of Connecticut and its nature.

It takes 6.5 hours on average to hike up the entire mountain. 

#8 Mount Katahdin, Maine

Mount Katahdin is the final stop of the Appalachian Trail. After what will be many difficult months of hiking, you will be rewarded with the stunning views and landscape of Mount Katahdin.

Spend some time near the beautiful mountain and enjoy the end of a long journey. 

The Bottom Line: Appalachian Trail Travel Guide

The beauty of the Appalachian trail cannot simply be put into a list of eight places.

The thousands of miles that make up the trail encompass a big portion of the United States natural beauty.

Remember that the trail is open to everyone, not just those who wish to thru-hike it.

Whether you decide to thru-hike the trail or only explore a part of it, the trail is sure to be a transformative experience that will change the way you think of the outdoors. 


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