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Appalachian Trail :: New York

On the 90 mile portion of the New York trail, you may see types of wildlife you weren’t expecting! The trail passes by the Trailside Museum and Zoo at Bear Mountain. At 124 feet, Bear Mountain is also the lowest elevation point on the entire trail and the Bear Mountain State Park section is the oldest section of the trail, completed in 1923.

Pictured: Island Pond in Harriman State Park, NY | By Mwanner, via Wikimedia Commons

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Appalachian Trail :: New Jersey

The 72-mile long New Jersey section of the trail crosses bogs, wetlands, and a wildlife sanctuary that features a wide spectrum of bird species. This surprises many hikers considering the trail’s close proximity to major cities. Other highlights of the NJ section are the mile long Pochuck Boardwalk and the 110 foot long suspension bridge.

Pictured: Pochuck Boardwalk | Img Src: https://flic.kr/p/gtnsZk

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Appalachian Trail :: Pennsylvania

The 229 mile Pennsylvania portion of the trail is the least popular of all the states and is often skipped entirely. The trail passes through game lands managed for hunting, so fall may not be the best time to go (possibly another reason it is unpopular!); additionally, all hunters and non-hunters are required to wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined, or a fluorescent orange hat, from November 15 to December 15.

Of course, if you skip it, you can’t take a selfie at the midpoint!

And... you wouldn't see this...

Pictured: Golden sunrise atop Mt Minsi. The Appalachian Trail runs right across the top of this mountain. | Img Src: https://flic.kr/p/dmvuju

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Appalachian Trail :: Maryland

The Maryland portion of the trail is a fairly easy section following a 40-mile route along the backbone of South Mountain, a north-south ridge that extends from Pennsylvania to the Potomac River.

The trail runs through the eastern edge of Greenbrier State Park and along the C&O Canal Towpath route for 3 miles. Hikers will also pass High Rock, which offers spectacular views and is a popular hang-gliding site.

Pictured: The Appalachian Trail in Maryland on Black Rock cliffs | Img Src: https://flic.kr/p/aKfRta

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Appalachian Trail :: West Virginia

The West Virginia section of the trail is a quick 4 miles (not including the 20 miles that run along the Virginia border) and is mostly in historic Harpers Ferry, the site of John Brown’s Raid and notable Civil War battles, and headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Harpers Ferry is considered the “psychological midpoint” of the trail, although the actual midpoint is just west of Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania.

Pictured: View of Harpers Ferry WV from Maryland Heights Overlook on the Appalachian Trail | [Public Domain]

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Appalachian Trail :: Virginia

With more miles of the trail than any other state, 554 miles of the trail are in Virginia and feature stunning views from overlooks that reveal a mix of forest and farmland scenes; of those, 104 miles run parallel to Skyline Drive in beautiful Shenandoah National Park, a well-maintained trail with climbs that aren’t too steep and is great for beginners to explore.

Pictured: Fall on the Virginia Creeper Trail | Img Src: https://flic.kr/p/dtgFbk

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Appalachian Trail :: Tennessee

There are 94 miles of the trail in Tennessee, but the trail runs along the Tennessee/North Carolina border for 160 additional miles. The highest point on the entire Appalachian Trail is 6625 feet, at Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The trail also passes by other notable landmarks in the Smoky Mountains, such as Charlies Bunion, Rocky Top and the historic stone fire tower atop Mt. Cammerer.

The Smoky Mountains section of the trail generally takes about 7 days to hike; however, it can be shortened to 3-4 days by using Newfound Gap or Clingmans Dome as a mid point.

Pictured: Clingmans Dome, the highest point of the Appalachian Trail | [Public Domain]

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Appalachian Trail :: North Carolina

North Carolina’s 95.7 mile portion of the trail (not counting the 224.7 miles that run along the NC/TN state line, is very scenic, rising and falling along the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. Some views require short side trips, but they are definitely worth it, including a “view of a lifetime” often called “The Crown Jewel of the Appalachian Trail.”

The North Carolina stretch of the trail will take you through the historic town of Hot Springs, and is a great spot for hikers trekking all the way to Maine to take a break and to rejuvenate in the hot springs … or anyone for that matter!

Pictured: Max Patch “The Crown Jewel of the Appalachian Trail” | Img Credit: https://flic.kr/p/92tR1H

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Appalachian Trail :: Georgia

Georgia has 79 miles of the trail, including the southern terminus at Springer Mountain at an elevation of 3,782 feet. The highest point on the Georgia trail is Blood Mountain at 4,461 feet.

If you plan to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, then … “The trail starts here!”

Although the slogan is “Maine to Georgia”, most thru-hikers begin the 2,190 mile, 6-month trek at Springer Mountain in Georgia, usually in late April or early May to take advantage of the mild climate at the beginning of the trail; and, so that the toughest part of the trail is saved for last when the hiker is in better condition to tackle it.

Pictured: Blood Mountain, Georgia
Img Src: By Anish Patel, via Wikimedia Commons

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Exploring the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail passes through 14 states in the USA: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

The majority of the trail is in forests or on wild lands, although some portions traverse towns, roads and farms.

If you are new to hiking or are unfamiliar with the Appalachian Trail, but would like to learn more about it or even explore it by taking day trips or perhaps even short overnight trips, this article will be useful to you.

I hope that it will also encourage those who live nearby to get out and get on the trail this year!

Get Started: bit.ly/AppalachianTrailUSA

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