One of America’s most iconic footpaths, the Appalachian Trail travels nearly 2,200 miles between Georgia and Maine. Each year thousands of people head north from the trail’s southern terminus in an attempt to hike the whole trail in one year, but only one-fourth of them finish the journey, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Distance: 2,190 miles
States: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine
Year Established: 1968
Best Times of Year to Visit: Spring, summer and fall
Notable Spots Along Trail:
- Grayson Highlands, Virginia, is the only place on the AT where you can view wild ponies.
- McAfee Knob, Virginia, is the most photographed spot on the entire AT, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
- Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire, offers stunning panoramic views of New England.
Fun Facts, According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy:
- Thousands of volunteers contribute roughly 240,000 hours to the AT every year.
- More than 250 three-sided shelters exist along the trail.
- Of the 14 states along the route, Virginia is home to the most miles of the trail (about 550), while West Virginia is home to the fewest (about 15).
- The total elevation gain and loss of hiking the entire AT, about 464,500 feet, is equivalent to climbing the height of Mount Everest (up and down) 8 times.
- More than 3 million visitors walk a portion of the AT each year.
- Most thru-hikers walk north, starting in Georgia in spring and finishing in Maine in fall, taking an average of six months. To spread out the use of the trail, thru-hikers are encouraged to “flip-flop” their hike by starting somewhere in the middle of the trail and then hiking north or south, then returning to their starting point to finish the rest of their journey.
Trail Uses: Hiking in all areas and and equestrian use in limited areas
Administering Agency: National Park Service
Nonprofit Partner: Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Permitting Information: No fees or paid permits are required to access the AT. However, some New England campsites impose fees and you must obtain permits for backcountry camping for the two national parks on the AT: Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah. More information.
REI Stewardship: The co-op has invested more than $733,000 in the AT since 2002.
- 21 Appalachian Trail Statistics That Will Surprise, Entertain and Inform You
- How to Pack for an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike
- The 7 Hardest Day Hikes on the Appalachian Trail
- Paul’s Boots
- How Much Does it Cost to Thru-Hike the Appalachian Trail?
- The Appalachian Trail vs. Pacific Crest Trail: Which Hike Is Right for You?
Learn more about all of our national scenic trails.
To connect with other AT hikers, ask questions or share your experiences, visit the Appalachian Trail Hikers’ group in our digital community, Conversations.