Hike The Appalachian Trail In Parts: Guide To Section-Hiking

The Appalachian Trail is known as one of the most famous hiking networks in the US and the most renowned trail system on the East Coast. From Georgia to Main, trails take hikers along ridges, up fire towers, by waterfalls, and over the highest peaks. To hike the entirety of the Appalachian is an endeavor that most simply do not have time to do. Here is a twelve-section breakdown of the Appalachian Trail that makes it much more accessible to the average hiker.

Springer Mountain

Making use of The Benton MacKaye Trail, which is just a half-mile from Springer Mountain’s summit, hikers can wander through grassy hills and meadows that were once of the original Appalachian Trail footpaths. This is a long hike and is popular during the spring because of the warm southern climate.

  • State – Georgia
  • Hiking Distance – 75 miles
  • Hiking Time – 8 days
  • Trail Map

Nantahala Mountains

This section of the trail starts from Winding Stair Gap at US 64 and offers some great fire tower views. After starting this hike you will want to head north through the Nantahala Gorge. You will find Little Tennessee River Valley and Fontana Lake before you reach the Nantahala Outdoor Center. There is also a variety of other short trails in this area as well that can add to your journey.

  • State – North Carolina
  • Hiking Distance – 29 miles
  • Hiking Time – 3 days
  • Trail Map

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This national park is among the most visited in the US. It can get quite crowded despite its difficulty, but the weekdays are less so. If you want to book campsites you can, but make sure to do so in advance. The hikes here travel along ridges and streams. They also offer fire tower views and a few icy swimming holes. The highest point you can climb to on the trail is Clingman’s Dome at 6,600 feet.

  • State – Tennessee
  • Hiking Distance – varies; depends on selected hikes
  • Hiking Time – 4 days
  • Link to Trail Maps

Iron Mountain Gap to Cross Mountain

This hike takes you from Tennessee’s Iron Mountain ridgeline through the wild Cherokee National Forest to Cross Mountain. A great place to spend the night is Roan High Knob Shelter which also happens to be at the highest elevation on the Appalachian Trail.

  • State – Tennessee
  • Hiking Distance – 17 miles
  • Hiking Time – Overnight
  • Trail Map

Related: Hike The Appalachian Trail In Parts: Guide To Section-Hiking

Mau-Har Loop

This section is ideal for hot weather days because of the many little swimming holes along the way. There are also forty-foot waterfalls and views from Chimney Rocks Vista on Three Ridges Mountain, Hanging Rock Vista on Bee Mountain, and Flat Rock Vista. You can make this an overnight trip as there are various places to camp by the streams.

  • State – Virginia
  • Hiking Distance – 14 miles
  • Hiking Time – overnight
  • Trail Map

Shenandoah National Park

With views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley, this hike runs next to Skyline Drive. This is a long hike but not a difficult one. You can casually enjoy the wonders of nature here and will likely be able to spot whitetail deer in the area. If you want, there are huts available for spending nights in as well as local shops that you can restock at.

The Blue Mountains, Port Clinton to Lehigh Gap

From Port Clinton to Lehigh Gap, hikers can enjoy the scenic Pennsylvania farmland as well as spend nights at five different available shelters. This is a great area to catch glimpses of migrating birds of prey as well as enjoy the sights of Bake Oven Knob and the Pinnacle.

  • State – Pennsylvania
  • Hiking Distance – 40 miles
  • Hiking Time – 4 days
  • Trail Map

Delaware River

Climb the Kittatinny Ridge towers and stand a thousand feet over the Delaware River. The views are inspiring. You can also discover Sunfish Pond, the southernmost glacial lake on the Appalachian Trail. You can stay on the main part of the trail here, or you can wander through side trails in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

  • State – New Jersey/Pennsylvania
  • Hiking Distance – 15.9 miles
  • Hiking Time – 2 days
  • Link to Trail Maps

Related: What You Need To Know Before Trying To Hike Mount Washington

Anthony’s Nose


This is a short but difficult hike that starts at the Appalachian Trail’s lowest part along the Hudson River. Hikers will then make the challenging climb up Anthony’s Nose. You can do this trail in a day or afternoon. You can lengthen the hike by adding on the 3.7 miles with the Camp Smith Trail.

  • State – New York
  • Hiking Distance – 2.2 miles
  • Hiking Time – short day round trip
  • Trail Map

Taconic Highlands


Pass from Salisbury to Jug End along this two-day hike. Here, you can wander through the old-growth forest, enjoy the sights of waterfalls and make the climb over Mount Everett. There are eight available shelters to choose from for spending the night.

  • State – Massachusetts
  • Hiking Distance – 16.9 miles
  • Hiking Time – 2 days
  • Trail Map

Presidential Range


This section passes through the White Mountains and is known as being one of the most difficult parts of the Appalachian Trail. Arguably the US’s greatest hiking route, you will pass over the famous Mount Moosilauke, Mount Washington, and the kinsman range. Part of this hike is considered tundra, and you should prepare properly, but you will be rewarded with some of the most beautiful sights of vistas of valley lakes. There are fortunately six huts available to rest in along your journey so take advantage of them.

  • State – New Hampshire
  • Hiking Distance – 88 miles
  • Hiking Time – 9 days
  • Trail Map

The 100-mile Wilderness


Starting from Monson, Maine, the Appalachian Trail begins an incredible 100-Mile stretch of Wilderness that doesn’t cross a paved road. To engage in the entirety of the hike is a daunting task but simply completing the first thirty miles is an amazing journey in itself. There are four shelters and numerous campsites along the way to keep shelter. If you do want to attempt the entire hike, you should plan for a twelve-day hike.

  • State – Maine
  • Hiking Distance – 29.9 miles
  • Hiking Time – 3 days
  • Trail Map

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