August 03, 2015

How to hike the Appalachian Trail: Guidebooks, Maps, Trail Details and Hiking Tips

As recommended guidebooks, we've compiled a shortlist of four books: The two on the left side are guidebooks with all the necessary facts and figures. The two on the right are travel books based on the authors' own experiences of their hike along the Appalachian Trail.


Useful maps are available for purchase at Amazon (detailed version) or as PDF from National Park Service (snapshot version only).

Below is a summary with a trail description and essential tips for your hiking adventure:
  • The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, also abbreviated respectfully as the "AT", runs 2,175 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine and is equally suited for day hikers, long-distance backpackers and so-called thru-hikers. 
  • The trail crosses Great Smoky Mountains National Park (160 miles from the trailhead in Georgia), where it has is highest elevation, Clingman's Dome at 6,643 ft (2,025 m).
  • A very popular section for a short hike on the trail in this area is between Newfound Gap Road and the North Carolina-Tennessee state border. 
  • Main seasons are spring, when wildflowers bloom, and fall, when the tree leaves color the mountains red, orange and yellow. 
  • Approximately 400 hikers complete the whole trail per year.