The Appalachian Trail for sure is one of the most famous hiking trails in the world.
It runs over about 2,200 miles from Georgia in the south to Maine in the north. Over several months enthusiastic hikers can walk the entire trail as thru-hikers or you just enjoy day-trips to parts of it.
The Trail is called Appalachian Trail, because it follows the ridgeline of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States, crossing many of its highest peaks, and running almost continuously through wilderness.
This marked hiking trail extends between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine and passes though the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Main.
The path is managed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Park Service and maintained by 30 trail clubs and partnerships.
Even though the trail traverses some towns, roads and cross rivers, its majority is in wilderness.
Originally the Appalachian Trail was conceived by Benton MacKaye to connect a series of farms and wilderness work or study camps. On the 7th of October 1923 the first section of the trail from Bear Mountain to Arden, New York was opened.
Hiking the trail certainly is a special highlight not only for hiking enthusiasts but also for nature lovers. The Appalachian Trail is home to thousands of species of plants and animals. Many of them rare threatened or endangered.
You can not only see deer or elk but also the American black bear or the Eastern timber rattlesnake and copperhead.
And as the trail passes through several different biomes from south to north, the plant life along the trail is of course varied. Hikers can walk though lowland forests dominated by hardwoods such as oak or tulip trees or maples and birches further north. In higher regions there are subalpine, evergreen forests and above tree line hikers will find hardy alpine plants.
On the trail there are more than 250 shelters and campsites available for hikers. The shelters are usually spaced a day’s hike or less apart and often near a water source and with a pivy. The water sources might be dry though.
As the trail crosses many roads, hikers can hitchhike into town for food and other supplies.
Walking the trail is relatively safe and comparable with other outdoor activities. Most hazards along the trail are related to weather conditions, human error, plants, animals, fellow humans or diseases.
The hiking season of the Appalachian Trail generally starts in mid to late spring. For more information visit the website of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.