Spring is on the way, which means that we’re thinking about lacing up our hiking boots + hitting the trails. Lucky for us, there are a lot of them here, and one of the most famous – the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail, or AT – runs right through our backyard.
The map, which is best viewed on a desktop or tablet rather than a cell phone, includes images of the trail + surrounding forest, towns, and parks, plus hikers’ favorite spots. Bonus: You can add your own highlights + stories here.
While you’re getting your gear together, here are a few fast facts about the AT –
- It’s the longest hiker-only trail in the world.
- Three million people visit the AT annually.
- About 20,000 people have hiked the entire trail, which runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin in Maine.
- Hiking the full trail takes an average of five to seven months.
- It crosses 14 states total and has a 464,500’ elevation gain/loss.
- In our area, the trail runs right through the town of Hot Springs.
- For every four hikers that start the trail, only one finishes.
- Most thru-hikers start at the Southern terminus of the trail in early spring + walk north.
Protip: While interactive + virtual maps are great for planning and research, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy advises using comprehensive printed maps on the trail.
Here are a few cool things we discovered while exploring the map –
Hiker tips organized by state, like this one that points readers to Winding Stair Gap + Franklin, NC – which includes a tip about where to get a pancake breakfast.
Hike highlights, which include info + photo galleries on notable trail sections + stops – like Great Smoky Mountains National Park, known to hikers for its plant life + bears. DYK: 71 miles of the trail run through the park – including the AT’s highest point?
Reader submissions, coded with pink heart icons, share stories from the trail, like this one from Clingmans Dome.