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Short AT section hike ideas?

Good morning all! I'm still fairly new to backpacking having had just gotten into it last year, but I've been wanting to check out the AT for some years now! I was planning a short hike of no more than a week with some friends just to hit a section of it, and was wondering if anyone had any ideas for places to start/end? Anything they like like small towns, nice views, etc that y'all think is worth a visit! I'm here in Texas so ideally I'd like things more on the southern end, but I'm open to any suggestions!

Also, is there transportation between towns, or what would the best way to get back to the starting location be, or does that just vary town to town? We'd most likely be road tripping up so we'd have to get back to the car somehow.

Thank y'all, and have a great day!

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5 Replies

Hello Jose.  I just took on the section from Rockfish Gap to Humpback Rocks last week. Not a long section but with plenty of varied terrain and an overnight at Paul C. Wolfe shelter.  Trail town there is Waynesboro, VA.

Find the closest trail town to your location and work from there.  In my case the closest was Waynesboro, I22 miles west of my home near Toano, Va. My first obstacle other than distance is variation in altitude, I'm at near sea level, Rockfish Gap is at 1900 feet.


Not sure where you are located. You can check for local trail clubs. The Appalachia Trail Conservancy ATC, has regional offices that can help with that too.  You can also Check out state and local parks for training and equipment shakedown trips


Good day Jose,

You have a lot of options.  This is BEARCAT.  I have hiked over 1,900 miles on the AT, from the southern terminus @ Springer Mtn, Georgia, north, as far as Gorham, New Hampshire. 

You and your friends COULD start, at the southern terminus, and hike north, to Neel Gap.  That would take you over Blood Mountain, which is neat.

Or, drive to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and make that town your "base camp".  Then, hike north or south, into the Smokies, from Newfound Gap.

Or, drive to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, and make that interesting, historic AT Town, your base camp! The ANVIL, is a great restaurant!  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, is there, and you could learn anything and more, about the Appalachian Trail.  Also, if you are interested in the Civil War, battlefields like Gettysburg, and Antietam, are very close by!  Also, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, is not far, in Frederick, Maryland.  AND, you could hike north, into, or across Maryland, into Pennsylvania, on the Appalachian Trail.  The BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, was filmed/about ( fictional? ), in Maryland, near Burkittsville.  Then drive into Washington DC, before heading back to Texas?  ( Bier Baron tap/restaurant....former Brickskeller.) 

Just three ideas, Jose, for the southern half, of the Appalachian Trail.

Hope it becomes, the first of many journeys, for you and your friends, on/along, the Appalachian Trail!  Good luck!!



Hi Jose, a lot depends on a good evaluation of your expected distance, equipment and physical shape. I enjoy the vistas, particularly those of the NH White Mountains. Maine and Mt Katadin is even more isolated. NC and other areas have deep water crossings, so I bring water shoes to keep my boots dry. The trails in NH are difficult with a full pack and you can find yourself 10 or more miles from a road. My recommendation is to find an area you’d like to see, study your trails and establish a reasonable travel time over the terrain there. Make sure you have enough water, because the NH section doesn’t have many convenient sources. If doing a loop, be realistic in your travel time. Weather can change quickly in NH, so check your equipment and rain gear before your trip. I  usually hike solo, so I’m careful about safety, and have really enjoyed the Appalachians. Have a great time. Safe travels. 


I've been told over and over again that the Maryland Section and the Shenandoah National Park Section are good places to get started on the AT, that they're tame by AT standards.  That's not to say that they're easy, but to start warming up on the AT that's the places to go.  


I believe SNP would be a good place to start for a week of good hiking, being a bit over 100 miles.I started with individual mountains, Humpback Rocks, Mount Rogers and Old Rag Mountain. There are short sections of AT involved in the first two. You can pick a section like my April trip, Rockfish Gap and go in either direction. I became a section hiker right out of the gate. As for Shenandoah National Park, that is my plan for next year, April I think as of now. This fall it's TN/VA line north for a bit and also pick up the VA Creeper Trail.