A thru-hike on the A.T. is not for everyone. But these wonderful section hikes offer delightful Appalachian Trail hikes for every hiker.
The most famous hiking trail in the world, the Appalachian Trail (also known as A.T.) in the United States can only be described as epic. The A.T. is a 2,185 mile long hiking-only footpath, the longest in the world, and it stretches from Maine to Georgia. Appalachian Trail hikes exposes hikers to various terrain and diverse natural attractions, including dense woods, picturesque meadows, and rocky mountain summits that have to be scaled. And not to forget—the exquisite flora and fauna on the trails are sure to leave you mesmerized. With almost every kind of conceivable terrain available, the A.T. offers hiking and backpacking opportunities like no other.
Approximately 2000 hikers attempt a thru-hike on the A.T. each year—a task that can take up to several months to complete as Appalachian Trail hikes span through 14 different states and numerous state parks. Now, not everyone can complete this mammoth task. But it does not mean that you cannot experience the beauty of the A.T. Apart from thru-hikes, you can enjoy the splendor of Appalachian Trail hikes on shorter hikes that offer something for every person. Irrespective of whether you have just a weekend or a couple of weeks to go on Appalachian Trail hikes, and whether you are a novice or a seasoned hiker, there are several section hikes and paths that you can explore and experience the legendary beauty of this US landmark. These are some of the Appalachian Trail hikes that you can try out in chunks instead of opting for a thru-hike:
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia (101 miles)
One of the not-to-be-missed Appalachian Trail hikes, the Shenandoah National Park includes views of the marvelous Blue Ridge Mountains, and is a beautiful yet relatively easier hike on the A.T. Of the many Appalachian Trail hikes that the state of Virginia offers, this is a great bet for you if you are new to hiking but want to try out a longer trail. Spot native wildlife including deer and black bears, and take time to soak in the beauty of Skyline Drive as you make your way through this beautiful park. With numerous side trails also available for you to explore along this trail, it offers you the experience of Appalachian Trail hikes without having to go for a thru-hike. The well-maintained trails in this park also have many shops close by, making it the perfect section to start your Appalachian Trail hikes.
Springer Mountain in Georgia (75 miles)
Although a less-visited trail as compared to other Appalachian Trail hikes, this section is equally impressive and offers spectacular views all along the hike. Comprising the southern end of the A.T., Springer Mountain will take you through forests and beautiful grassy peaks that are mesmerizing sights for city dwellers. Once you scale the peak of this mountain, you will reach the register that is available for hikers to sign, and will mark a gorgeous benchmark for you in the course of your Appalachian Trail hikes. Shady and tranquil oak valleys that are part of this trail are bound to become a memorable part of your hike.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee (70 miles)
As part of your Appalachian Trail hikes, try to experience an impressive hike on this popular section that offers breathtaking views of mountain peaks over valleys filled with mist—a truly unforgettable experience for all hikers. Although of a more difficult level than the Shenandoah National Park, a hike on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is something that you should definitely try once. However, once you scale the 6,643-feet high Clingman’s Dome (the highest point of the A.T.), you are sure to forget all your weariness as you experience an exhilarating feeling of having achieved a benchmark hike. One of the best spots for backpacking on the A.T., this section is best visited in the summer as the spring weather can be a bit turbulent here. This section of Appalachian Trail hikes requires you to get a permit if you want to go for overnight hiking, so it is advisable that you do your research and get the necessary permits before starting out on your hike.
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