Each year, many hikers in the United States begin their northbound hikes on the Appalachian Trail in early March and April.
Thru-hikers often hike from the south, starting at Springer Mountain in Georgia to the northernmost point at Katahdin, Maine.
The hike usually takes 5-6 months for thru-hikers, who hike the entire 2,180 miles in a single journey. One in four who start the trip finish and are admitted to the 2000 Miler Club ranks.
Northbound hikes are more popular than southbound hikes. Southbound hikers generally begin their trail journey in June or July and finish in Georgia in December.
According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website, about 1,500 northbound hikers start the journey each year during March and April, with 30 or more hikers starting each day.
The northbound hikers will face winter weather and deep snow in some places as they begin their journey; however, the weather will become more mild through the Mid-Atlantic states before turning cold again in New Hampshire and Maine.
Those hiking south face more difficulties including swarms of black flies and muddy trails in Maine in June, hot and humid weather in the Mid-Atlantic, hiking during hunting season and cold, winter weather at the end of their hike.
There are as many reasons to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail as there are hikers. A recent blog titled, “35 Reasons to Hike the Appalachian Trail” shows many of the reasons hikers choose to walk five million steps on their hiking journey.
Thru-hiking isn’t the only way to hike the Appalachian Trail. Section hikers start at any point on the trail and hike a section at a time, as time and weather permits.
These alternatives are known as “flip-flop” or “leapfrog” hikes. The advantages to section hiking include having fewer hikers on the trail with you and easier terrain and weather along the way.
However, there are also disadvantages to section hiking. Hikers will have fewer people to share the joys and trails of trail life and it’s more expensive to take multiple hiking trips.
The beauty of nature is yours for the taking when hiking the Appalachian Trail. Whether you hike the entire length of the trail or just a section, you will enjoy views that are second to none as you create lasting memories.