The Appalachian Trail is a National Scenic Trail in the eastern United States that runs about 2,000 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. It’s a huge undertaking that has changed the lives of many of its hikers. However, doing a full thru-hike isn’t for everyone. That’s why we’re bringing you the best Appalachian Trail section hiking straight from those who know it best.
What is the best Appalachian Trail Section Hiking?
Many of Gossamer Gear’s brand ambassadors have taken on the Appalachian Trail. They know it intimately, walking each of its unique miles and taking in its changing scenery. If you’re looking for insider information on the best Appalachian Trail section hiking, they’re the perfect resource. They can help you pick the stretch that is right for you when a full thru-hike is just a bit too long for what you’re after.
We’ve asked four of our brand ambassadors to share the best Appalachian Trail section hiking with our community. We think you might spot a theme within their responses, and hope it helps you narrow down your next adventure destination!
1. Best Appalachian Trail Section Hiking according to Arlette Laan
Brand Ambassador, Arlette Laan, has thru-hiked the John Muir Trail (2002), the Pacific Crest Trail (2003), the Continental Divide Trail (2004), the Appalachian Trail (2005), the Arizona Trail (2009), The Grand Enchantment Trail (2012), The Te Araroa in New Zealand (2015), The Long Trail (2015), and the Hayduke Trail (2017). She’s also hiked about 900 miles of the Pacific Northwest Trail in two sections (2007, 2012), and completed the Florida Trail in two sections (2013, 2017).
Here’s what Arlette has to say about the best Appalachian Trail section hiking:
“For an AT section hike, I would recommend Georgia in spring for the rhododendron tunnels in bloom, the Virginia Grayson Highlands for the rolling hills and wild ponies, and the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for an amazing above-tree-line experience. However, my current favorite is northern Maine during fall foliage season. I love northern Maine in summer for the big lakes to swim in, but during fall foliage it’s simply breathtaking.”
2. Best Appalachian Trail Section Hiking according to Francis Tapon
Brand Ambassador, Francis Tapon, is the author of Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America and The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us. He thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first person to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. He’s also walked across Spain twice.
Here’s what Francis has to say about the best Appalachian Trail section hiking:
“The best section hike on the Appalachian Trail to me is the Whites of New Hampshire—even though it will tax your knees. I believe that tough, challenging places are the most rewarding. Moreover, those who hike with Gossamer Gear equipment will have far less burden than the average hiker, and will be able to do these tough hikes with ease and a smile.”
3. Best Appalachian Trail Section Hiking according to Erin “Wired” Saver
Brand Ambassador, Erin “Wired” Saver, completed her first thru-hike in 2011 on the Pacific Crest Trail. She became known as “Wired” due to her “energy, little need for sleep, and timely blogging while on the trail.” Since that first hike, she has covered a range of other trails, including the Continental Divide Trail in 2013 and the Appalachian Trail in 2014.
Here’s what Erin has to say about the best Appalachian Trail section hiking:
“The 75 miles of the Appalachian Trail through the White Mountains in New Hampshire are some of the most challenging, but also some of the most scenic miles along the Appalachian Trail. For those intimidated by the idea of hiking in the Whites, there are options unique to this area that make it much more welcoming. There are Appalachian Mountain Huts that offer full services of lodging, cooked meals, and even guides, if people are interested. That option greatly reduces pack weight, and provides shelter from the weather, if needed. There are options to tent in the Whites if people are looking to stay outside and hike independently of the hut system. A highlight of this stretch is the Presidential Range that includes world famous Mt. Washington. It’s definitely a unique section that stands out among all three of the triple crown trails.”
4. Best Appalachian Trail Section Hiking according to Duncan Cheung
Brand Ambassador, Duncan Cheung, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2013. He has since founded an inspiring nonprofit called Off Trail On Track. Off Trail On Track teaches minimalist backpacking and donates 100% of its profits to support conservation, diversity, and education in and for the wilderness. Through how he has incorporated his passions into his work, it is clear how the wilderness and the experience of backpacking has impacted Duncan’s life.
Here’s what Duncan has to say about the best Appalachian Trail section hiking:
“For the AT, I’d say the Presidential Range would be one of the best (that I’m willing to share!). It’s not dramatic like the PCT, but as far as scenery goes, this traverse offers some of the best on the AT—especially since most of it is above treeline, which is harder to come by on the AT. The whole Presidential Traverse is about 23 miles, roughly a 9,000-foot gain. Bonus is that the White Mountains and other nearby mountains offer opportunities for competent folks to do some off-trail exploration and peak-bagging.”