8 Things to Know Before You Hike the Appalachian Trail

Stretching more than 2,190 miles across 14 different states, the Appalachian Trail may be the best long-distance hiking route in the entire world. Each year, 3 million people trek at least a portion of the trail, with just a fraction of those walking its entire length.

Those “thru-hikers” learn a lot during early days of their journey, and most will tell you there is no way to fully prepare for the challenge of walking the AT end-to-end other than just doing it. Still, there are some pearls of wisdom that can prepare you for the challenges ahead.

One of the biggest decisions you’ve got to make is when to start hiking the Appalachian Trail and which direction to go. Those two questions are closely related, as the time of year you begin your hike could dictate whether you travel north to south or vice versa.

Ultralight hiking is all the rage these days, and everyone is looking for ways to cut ounces from their packs. This helps you travel faster and reduces wear and tear on your body over the course of the days and weeks you’ll spend out on the trail.

The Appalachian Trail is no place to test new gear for the very first time. Be sure to give all of your equipment a try before you set out on your hike. If you can, take a weekend backpacking excursion along a local trail to make sure everything performs up to your expectations.

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