The Appalachian Trail is a 2,189-mile walking trail, spanning from Georgia to Maine. An estimated 3,000 people make travel plans to hike the entire trail each year, yet only twenty-five percent make it to the end at Mt. Katahdin. Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is a strenuous, time-consuming, and expensive task. For those who aren’t looking to spend thousands of dollars and half a year on the trail, there is good news! The Appalachian Trail has many sections suitable for day, weekend, or week hikes. Here, one will find a list of the top section hikes the Appalachian Trail has to offer – plan your travel now!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains are situated in North Carolina and Tennessee. The park itself boasts wildlife viewing events, bicycling, hiking, amongst other activities. The Great Smoky Mountains are wonderful to hike at any time of the year. In the winter, the lack of leaves on the trees reveals new views, some of the old residential buildings in the area. Hikers and travel lovers will find the autumn full of orange, yellow, and red falling leaves that lend a crisp, rustic feeling to any hike. Spring and summer boast many kinds of wildflowers and plants that spring up from the ground, making the trail livelier and more colorful.
Hikers typically take a full week to hike all of the Great Smoky Mountains on the Appalachian Trail. However, one can easily shorten the trip by stopping or starting mid-way through the section, right around Newfound Gap. Hikers can expect to see the famous Charlies Bunion Rocky Top overlook, Mt. Cammerer’s stunning 360-degree views, and Gregory Bald summit’s colorful wildflowers.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is fixed in Virginia. The park offers wonderful outdoor activities like bicycling along Skyline Drive, birdwatching, and ranger-guided tours. Shenandoah Park takes up over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, but hikers can easily break it into several section hikes.
In the Shenandoah mountains, hikers can look forward to Riprap Trail’s swimming holes, cascades, and scrambling rocks. Overall Run Falls boasts the highest drop point of all waterfalls on the Appalachian Trail. Other waterfall scenes in the Shenandoah mountains include Dark Hollow Falls and Whiteoak Canyon. Hikers can also look forward to panoramic views all throughout Shenandoah National Park. A wonderful travel destination for all nature lovers.
The Presidential Range
The Presidential Range is part of the White Mountains, located in New Hampshire. Travel to this 23-mile range that features the highest peaks in the whites, the most treacherous and exciting of which are named after past US presidents. While many hikers complete the Range in one day, it’s not uncommon to break up the trek over the course of a few days. However, the Presidential Range is not for the faint of heart, as the weather tends to be snowy and windy year-round.
Despite steep hikes and cold weather, hikers and travel lovers will be pleased to find spectacular views due to the Range being above tree level. During many points in the hike, many travel and nature lovers find themselves walking through clouds, lending a dreamy, philosophical feeling to the trip.
Located in Georgia, Springer Mountain is right at the start of the Appalachian Trail. The hike features a moderate climb with excellent views. Hikers will find wonderful wildflowers along the trail. At the peak of Springer Mountain lies gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains – a dream travel experience.
Hike during the spring to meet hundreds of new thru-hikers. In the summer, it is hot and full of beautiful wildlife. Autumn is usually the best time to hike Springer Mountain. After all, there’s nothing like sitting atop a 3,000-foot mountain, taking in crisp fall foliage.
Located in Maine, adventurers will love the 100-Mile Wilderness. This section stretches from Monson to Mt. Katahdin. It takes up around 100 miles of the northernmost part of the trail. The 100-Mile Wilderness meets with no food suppliers, so hikers and travel addicts should be careful to bring plenty of food. The reward for hiking this remote part of the trail is tremendous.
The 100-Mile Wilderness is full of crystal-clear, shallow ponds. This section also features berry bushes, cool streams, and tall pine trees. If hikers are lucky, they will be able to spot a moose or two grazing beyond the pines. Travel here late in the summer to early fall to beat the temperatures and catch up with awesome thru-hikers.
The Appalachian Trail is a magical place filled with sturdy trees, luscious greenery, and buzzing wildlife. One needs not devote a tremendous amount of travel time and money to enjoy the trail. All one needs is a few days, basic camping and hiking gear and an adventurous spirit to enjoy these section hikes. Go forth, and enjoy all the Appalachian Trail has to offer.