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Looking for Partner - Section Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Hi Granola Friends!

My name is Sara and I'm 24 years old with a few months to spend before starting graduate school (hopefully!), and I'm so eager to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail! There is no way I would go alone though haha as I'm new to multi-day adventuring and I've only ever done one other overnight backpacking trip (on which I didn't have much responsibility). I'm curious if anyone could suggest to me a forum for finding a few partners to go on an adventure with? My last big trip was a 2-month biking tour across the country and I absolutely loved carrying my home on my legs and being so free, raw, natural for so many days on end. I'm confident I'll settle into the backpacking routine as I did the biking one, I just need some company to give me the stability and support for getting comfortable. And I love meeting new people, so that's also the major reason I'm seeking company for this trip. I'm hoping to go for a couple months and would hope to leave maybe in May... whenever the weather is best haha thank you anybody who answers this call, I'm grateful!:)

Wishing you all wellness and joy,


30 Replies

Hi @sarabass - Thanks for reaching out! We love hearing that you are planning to get out onto sections of the AT and are taking the steps necessary to be prepared. Your two-month bike tour sounds incredible! What was your route? It would be amazing if you could share about that experience with us. There are many avid cyclists in this community!

For the Appalachian Trail, there are a handful of community members here that might be able to point you in a direction of finding partners (or may be looking themselves!). Additionally, is somewhere hikers often go to find partners, so you might want to take a look there.

@nathanu@Philreedshikes@Hikes_in_Rain@taskmaster@Rob6@TomIrvine@John@Joe@OldGuyot@Wanderer - do any of you all have suggestions for Sara for finding section-hiking AT partners?

Thanks again for bringing this question to the community. Hopefully this helps!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks for the mention @REI-CarterC .

And, welcome to the community @sarabass .

I guess the first and most relevant question is...What portion(s) of the AT are you looking at tackling?  

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

This is a wonderful question that I have not figured out yet. I'm looking for a section that will allow me some steep climbs (though definitely with rest in between because I don't want the difficulty to erode my excitement to tackle each day!) and really beautiful vistas. Though, I imagine that doesn't narrow it down any haha how would you recommend I start narrowing down my route? Truthfully, my priority would be to find people to hike with first. If there was a group that meshed well with me, then I would take them up on whatever route they'd decided on if they already have preferences!

That said, I'm very eager to hear any suggestions you have about ways of deciding on a section. Thank you @Rob6 ! 

Hey @sarabass !

Silly me...I was equating your start point with your proximity to it.  It never really crossed my mind that you would be in a position to choose anywhere along its 2000 miles.  I can sometimes be a bit short-sighted that way. D-OH!!!

I live in Maryland, and have only done a few sections in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, so I am somewhat limited in what I can offer.  All of the places I have been are scenic in their own right, and have attributes that are all their own.

While I am certainly biased, I tend to think that Virginia has some of the most spectacular vistas, and, if you enjoy history along with nature, Harper's Ferry has both, as well as being the semi-official mid-point and is home to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  I would consider that to be a destination worth a visit.  But, its popularity makes it likely to be more crowded.  Something to keep in mind if solitude is more to your liking. 

Depending on your schedule and the locations you choose, myself and my small group of hiking friends may be able to join you for some portions.  And even if that doesn't come to pass, know that I will be with you in spirit.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Thank you so much @REI-CarterC for giving this conversation momentum with these resources and names:) I'm excited to be joining this community because I've always loved spending time outside but my family wasn't the kind to go on adventures unless there were nice, indoor accommodations haha I would love to share more about my bike trip if anyone has questions. It was a really makeshift route and I kind of left the routing up to the two boys I went with because I'm so green to overnighting (and bike riding! haha) but we started in Seaside, OR and ended in Boston, MA. From there, one friend and I biked up to Montreal. That was the best part, though the mountain passes in Vermont were gnarly! And we got caught in a couple rainstorms haha it all makes for great memories though

Actually I have the same comment. I'm looking for partners to do section hiking on the AT. Unfortunately I got out of shape so I need to do some PT. However, 5 years ago I ran marathons. As practice I would like to do a SMALL section hike, Springer Mountain to Neels gap. I would take the AT approach trail to Springer. Next after I get my confidence, I would like to do Neels Gap to Fontana Dam in North Carolina. I'm a old man, 66, so the young folks will out pace me. I have heard their are lots of people you will meet on the AT that you can hike with you at your pace. Sarabass I would like to keep in contact with you. Your hiking distance/day is longer than mine. I'll be happy if I could do ten miles/day. However, hikers have a common bond that goes beyond pace and distance. Best of luck Sarabass maybe one day we will meet on the AT

I so admire your commitment @TAZ and your history of marathoning! Honestly, you sound like the person I'd love to be when I grow up. What have been your favorite stretches of the AT and when are you looking to head out on your next tour? 

I'm sorry to hear about your injury, but I have complete faith you will nurse yourself back to health in no time, it sounds like you're a driven person. Once your back on your feet, I would be excited to hear about your plans. Wishing you wellness in the very near future!


Good to hear from you.  It's actually a lot of fun to plan for a AT section hike. I will include a few internet links. I can tell you McAfee Knob in Virginia is the most photographed spot on the AT. However, I read it is crowded and a lot of people don't like that. The AT actually crosses several unimproved and improved roads this can lead to lots of people having access to the trail.. These roads become important for hikers wishing to resupply along the trail.  For example Neels Gap is the first major resupply point for NOBOs heading North from Springer Mountain. You can resupply at Mountain Crossings in Neels Gap. Neels Gap has gained fame for the hiking boots hanging from trees. The story is people have given up hiking the AT and threw their boots in the trees. Neels gap is about 31 miles from Springer. So after 31 miles they have had enough?

Actually my plans are really simple. I would like do a short hike from Springer to Neels Gap probably in Summer/Fall 2021. Next I would like to do a much longer hike maybe even the rest of the trail, to become a real thru hiker. For that you really need to plan for a date that will keep you off the trail in winter so that means a mid April 2022 start. Let it be know I have never hiked the AT but I have done an enormous amount of research and I do mean enormous. Sarabass I've included a few links for you. One concerns the dangers on the AT. This was written by a guy who has hiked the AT multiple time. The next concerns sections to hike along the AT. Hope you enjoy these links.



Have you done your Springer-to-Neel Gap hike yet? I was also thinking about hiking the same section soon. My wife and I were up at Mountain Crossings yesterday sightseeing, and it has me anxious to give it a shot. I did the Pine Mountain Trail earlier this summer, and I just got back from some light backpacking in the Cascades with an old Navy buddy. I'm also an ex-marathoner (knees won't allow that anymore) and I have been using hiking as a way to try to keep in shape. I'd be very interested in having a partner to make the trip. And my wife would be less concerned about me being on the trail solo.