How Long Is The Appalachian Trail (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Approximately 2,190 Miles

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, also known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the A.T., is a hiking trail in the Eastern United States. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy describes it as the longest hiking-only trail in the world. More than 2 million people are said to take a hike on the part of the trail at least once every year.

Traversing 14 states, the Appalachian Trail is one of America’s most famous long-distance footpaths. The whole journey along the trail showcases the grandeur of nature including breathtaking valleys, vast meadows, and numerous mountain peaks.

The Appalachian Trail extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is about 2,190 miles i.e approximately 3,500 km long. The exact length of the trail keeps on changing over time as and when the parts of the trail are modified or rerouted.

How Long Is The Appalachian Trail?

The Appalachian Trail travels through fourteen states. The states through which the trail passes are Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

It is maintained by 31 trail clubs and multiple partnerships and managed by the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, and the non-profit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The Appalachian Trail accommodates short-term hikers, section hikers, and thru-hikers.

The Appalachian Trail was completed in 1937 after more than a decade of work, although it undergoes improvement and changes even today. An extension known as the International Appalachian Trail continues northeast, crossing Maine and passing through Canada to Newfoundland, with certain sections continuing in Greenland.

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Sections of Appalachian TrailDistanceDuration to hike
Southern Appalachians456 milesAbout 40 days
Virginia and West Virginia554 milesAbout 40 days
Mid – Atlantic States430 milesAbout 32 days
New England 734 milesAbout 57 days

Why Is The Appalachian Trail So Long?

Most hikers start slow, averaging eight to 10 miles a day. They can eventually work up to 12 – 16 miles a day. It takes an average person anywhere from 5 – 7 months to complete the entire hike of the Appalachian Trail from start to finish. Experienced hikers going for the fastest known times have even completed the entire trail in under 50 days.

The current men’s self-supported record for completing the Appalachian Trail is 45 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes by ultrarunner Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy in 2017 who averaged 48 miles i.e 77 km a day. For women, the self-supported hiking record was set by Heather “Anish” Anderson in 54 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes in 2015. Since its creation in 1937, more than twenty thousand people on record have successfully hiked the trail in its entirety.

People who try to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in a continuous journey are called “thru-hikers”. Only one out of every four thru-hiker completes the challenge. When thru-hiking the Appalachian Trails, one will climb a total amount of 515,000 feet which is equivalent to going to the summit of Mount Everest about 17 times.

Completing a thru-hike is quite an accomplishment as hikers usually face rough terrain nearly the entire length of the trail, including steep climbs, rocky gorges, and stream crossings. Hikers can also encounter other dangers like unpredictable weather and wild animals during their hike along the Appalachian Trail.

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Conclusion

People from around the globe are drawn to the Appalachian Trail for a variety of reasons, such as reconnecting with nature, escaping the hustle and stress of city life, meeting new people, deepening old friendships, or experiencing a memorable hiking trip.

Overall, the trail is about 2,190 miles long. It is an incredibly beautiful piece of land that is so popular that around two million people hike on all or part of this trail every single year.

The Appalachian Trail is the adventure of a lifetime. Thru-hiking the entire trail is not a leisurely walk in the park. The 2,190-mile stretch of land, nature, and wildlife is certainly not for the faint of heart but those with rigorous preparation, resilience, and exceptional fortitude.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1080603204704779
  2. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20113321250
  3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/105382590703000311
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