The adventure of a lifetime

Thru-Hiking

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What to Expect

Completing the entire 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in one trip is a mammoth undertaking. Each year, thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike; only about one in four makes it all the way.

  • A typical thru-hiker takes 5 to 7 months to hike the entire A.T.
  • After deciding when and where to begin and then registering your thru-hike, you will need to plan your resupply points and know the camping regulations along the A.T.
  • Learn the camping regulations along the A.T. and the ATC’s expectations for hikers who want to be officially recognized as a 2,000-miler.
  • In addition to these logistics, physical and mental preparations become important factors in a successful thru-hike. Learn more about all these subjects below.

FAQs

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Explore the Trail

Interactive Map

You can explore many locations along the trail including shelters, A.T. Communities, Trail Clubs, and more!

Launch Map
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Explore

Maps and Guides

Thru-hiking guide and planners, official A.T. hiking maps, and lots of cool A.T.-themed items are available from the Ultimate Appalachian Trail Store.

Visit the Store

Where to Start

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Starting in Georgia

Northbound

Starting in Georgia has long been the most popular place to start a thru-hike. But "popular" has led to "crowded" between March 1 and April 15. During this time, the southern end of the A.T. becomes a continuous stream of hikers during the day, with dozens of hikers clustered around campsites at night. The "nobo" hiker typically encounters wintry conditions in March and parts of April and hot, humid conditions in summer. Katahdin provides a dramatic finale; hikers should plan to arrive before October 15.

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Starting somewhere in the middle of the Trail

Flip Flop

Increasingly, hikers are choosing to start somewhere in the middle of the Trail. Generally, these itineraries offer a gradual progression from easier to more difficult terrain and more frequent resupplies. You can also avoid crowded conditions on the Trail and sold-out services in trailside villages. A mid-Trail start also enables you to follow more favorable weather conditions and at the same time help conserve the Trail.

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Starting in Maine

Southbound

Starting a thru-hike in Maine is by far the most challenging way to tackle the Trail. Katahdin, the Trail's northern terminus, is regarded as the most difficult mountain on the entire A.T. The route through Maine involves extensive climbing and scrambling over steep, rocky, root-covered and muddy terrain. A heavy pack is required due to the distance between resupply points. It’s best undertaken only by experienced and fit hikers.

Voluntary thru-hiker registration

The voluntary thru-hiker registration is a tool that helps prospective thru-hikers share their start dates with other thru-hikers and plan their itinerary in order to avoid the social and ecological impacts of overcrowding.

Register your hike now

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Learn About

Equipment

The most predictable mistake thru-hikers make when they start is carrying too much stuff. Put as much effort into determining what you don't need as what you do.

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Learn About

Food & Resupply

There's no need to carry more than 3 to 6 days of food on most parts of the A.T. Thru-hikers have techniques for resupplying in towns along the way.

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Report a hike

Section hikers and thru-hikers who complete the entire A.T. can report their journeys to us by filling out the 2,000-miler application. Those who submit their applications will be added to our roster of 2,000-milers and will receive a certificate of recognition, an A.T. patch, and an accompanying 2,000-miler “rocker” patch. Each year the names of those who have reported hike completions in the previous 12 months are published in the Spring issue of A.T. Journeys magazine. Our comprehensive online 2,000-miler listing is updated periodically.

Recognition Policy

  • We hold high expectations of 2,000-milers that include treating the natural environment, A.T. communities, other hikers, and our agency partners–whose land the A.T. passes through–with kindness, respect, and cooperation;
  • We operate on the honor system;
  • We give equal recognition to thru-hikers and section hikers;
  • We recognize hikers regardless of sequence, direction, speed, or whether they carry a pack;
  • In the event of an emergency, such as a flood, a forest fire, or an impending storm, blue-blazed trails or officially required roadwalks are viable substitutes for the white-blazed route.

Download the Application