How Long Does It Take To Walk The Appalachian Trail?


How Long Does It Take To Walk The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is a beautiful hiking path that stretches northeast to southwest along much of the eastern portion of the United States. Its steep, mountainous terrain throughout much of its length will test the endurance and skill of almost all hikers. With many beautiful landmarks and breathtaking scenery, the Appalachian Trail offers hikers an excellent opportunity for adventure and excitement.

How long does it take to walk the Appalachian Trail? 

The Appalachian Trail stretches close to 2200 miles from Georgia to Maine.  It can take 5 to 7 months for most people to complete, but there are a few that have completed the hike in under 50 days.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail is no easy task, let review why it takes most people almost half of a year to complete.

How Long Does It Take To Walk The Appalachian Trail?

The Appalachian trail is nearly 2200 miles long, a very arduous trek for even the most experienced hikers. About 3 million individuals traverse parts of the trail every year, but only 20,000 hikers have completed the entire trail at once since 1936.

The record time for completing the entire trail was 41 days, although most hikers usually take between 5 and 7 months to finish their journey. The length of time to walk the trail will vary based on the stamina of the hiker, hiking speed, and miles traveled per day. While the Appalachian Trail is often envisioned as an easy, relatively flat trail, many of its portions are very mountainous.

Hikers will need to plan for more arduous hiking in the northern part of the Appalachian Trail.  Pacing themselves appropriately as they continue down the more level areas of the middle and southern parts.

Where Does The Appalachian Trail Start and End?

The Appalachian Trail starts at Mount Katahdin in north-central Maine and ends at Springer Mountain in north-central Georgia, passing through a total of 14 different states.

While it is commonly accepted that Maine is the starting point of the trail and Georgia is its ending point.  Most hikers that travel the entire trail at once actually start in Georgia.  This is because Georgia’s climate is much milder in April, the time when most thru-hikers prefer to begin their journey of the Appalachian Trail.

Also, the more difficult mountainous portion of the hike will be completed near the end of the trek when the hiker’s stamina is appropriately built up.

What is the Halfway Point on the Appalachian Trail?

Because the Appalachian Trail has been rebuilt and relocated over the last century, there are several different halfway points that are acknowledged once a hiker approaches the midpoint of their journey.

Most halfway points are located in the state of Pennsylvania, with the most popular halfway point located at Pine Grove Furnace. Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a beautiful respite for thru-hikers as it offers lakes, beaches, ATV trails, historical buildings, a massive iron furnace from the 19th century, and the first hiking museum in the United States.

Pine Grove Furnace State Park also hosts different festivals, including an Appalachian Trail Museum Festival, held every June, coinciding with the halfway point for many thru-hikers.

The Other Mid Point

Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia is another commonly accepted halfway point, although a little past the halfway point in terms of total mileage. Harper’s Ferry is home to one of the top historical parks in the country.  It is famous for being the center point of many important historical events during the Civil War era.  Including John Brown’s famous raid on the federal arsenal and General Stonewall Jackson’s bombardment of the city.  Which led up to the Battle of Antietam. Harper’s Ferry is also home to attractions such as:

  • The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters
  • The John Brown wax museum
  • John Brown’s Fort
  • Harper’s Ferry Station
  • Jefferson Rock
  • The Appalachian National Scenic Trail

The Appalachian Trail also offers many other important landmarks throughout its long and extensive abode. Clingmans Dome, located in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, is the highest point along the Appalachian Trail. With an elevation of 6,643 feet, it offers hikers stunning views of the surrounding countryside hills, mountains, and forests up to 100 miles on a clear day. Another beautiful landmark is the waterfall located at Ramsey Cascades in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

For hikers who also like to dabble a little in fishing, Ramsey Cascades is also a premium spot for fly fishing. Perhaps the most breathtaking mountain views on the Appalachian Trail can be seen at the Charlies Bunion stone formation.  This formation is located at the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina. This rocky crag near the Newfound gap offers a picturesque mountain landscape of the Great Smokey Mountains at 5,564 feet.

How Many Miles a Day Should You Walk on the Appalachian Trail?

The amount of mileage that a hiker should travel each day will vary based on the total time allotted to complete the journey, stage of the journey, and the starting point of the journey.

Most thru-hikers complete their journey between 5 and 7 months. A 10 mile-a-day pace will allow a hiker to complete their trek in about seven months.  With 12.5 miles a day resulting in a 6-month trek, and 15 miles a day, about a 5-month trek.

Many hikers slowly build up their endurance, starting out hiking smaller amounts and working their way up. Therefore, if a hiker averages 10 miles a day for their total trip, they may average 7-8 miles a day in the first few months and 12-13 in the last few.

Also, hikers who start their journey in Maine instead of Georgia may need to limit their early mileage even more since the most challenging terrain is in the northernmost parts of the trail in Maine and New Hampshire.

Summary

The Appalachian Trail offers hikers an exciting adventure of exploration and stamina, showcasing many different beautiful natural and man-made landmarks.

While there is no set halfway point of the Appalachian Trail.  Many commonly accepted halfway points are located throughout Pennsylvania, including Pine Grove Furnace, and West Virginia, at Harper’s Ferry.

It is important to note that the Appalachian Trail is not the flat, easy-to-travel path that many individuals often envision.  It is a very arduous trail that contains mountainous terrain. Hikers should carefully map out and plan their journey.  Adjusting their pace of travel based on several factors, including:

  • The preferred timetable of their trip
  • Stage of their journey
  • The starting point of the journey (Georgia or Maine)

Lee G.

I love the outdoors! Everything from hiking, climbing, rappelling, and caving.

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