Multi-Part Appalachian Trail Hike: Hike Section Guide

The Appalachian Trail is known as one of the most famous hiking systems in the United States and the most renowned trail system on the East Coast. From Georgia to the Main, the trails take hikers past ridges, fire towers, waterfalls and the highest peaks. Traveling the entirety of Appalachia is something most simply don’t have the time to do. Here is a twelve section breakdown of the Appalachian Trail that makes it much more accessible to the average hiker.

Mount Springer

Using the Benton MacKaye Trail, which is only half a mile from the top of Springer Mountain, hikers can wander through grassy hills and meadows that were once part of the original Appalachian Trail trails. It’s a long hike and is popular in the spring due to the warm southern climate.

  • State – Georgia
  • hiking distance – 75 miles
  • Hiking time – 8 days
  • Trail map

Nantahala Mountains

This section of the trail starts at Winding Stair Gap at US 64 and offers great views of the fire tower. After starting this hike you will want to head north through the Nantahala Gorge. You will find the Little Tennessee River Valley and Lake Fontana before reaching the Nantahala Outdoor Center. There are also a variety of other short trails in this area that can add to your trip.

  • State – North Carolina
  • hiking distance – 29 miles
  • Hiking time – 3 days
  • Trail map

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This national park is one of the most visited in the United States. It can get crowded despite its difficulty, but weekdays are less crowded. If you want to book campsites, you can, but be sure to do so in advance. Hikes here travel along ridges and streams. They also have a view of the fire tower and a few icy swimming holes. The highest point you can climb to on the trail is Clingman’s Dome at 6,600 feet.

  • State -Tennessee
  • hiking distance – varies; depends on the selected hikes
  • Hiking time – 4 days
  • Link to trail maps

Iron Mountain Gap to Cross Mountain

This hike takes you from the ridge line of Iron Mountain in Tennessee through the wild Cherokee National Forest to Cross Mountain. A great place to spend the night is Roan High Knob Shelter, which is also at the highest elevation on the Appalachian Trail.

  • State -Tennessee
  • hiking distance – 17 miles
  • Hiking time – Overnight
  • Trail map

Related: Multi-Part Appalachian Trail Hike: A Guide to the Hike Section

Mau Har Loop

This section is great for hot days due to the many small swimming holes along the way. There are also forty-foot waterfalls and views of Chimney Rocks Vista on Three Ridges Mountain, Hanging Rock Vista on Bee Mountain, and Flat Rock Vista. You can make it an overnight trip as there are different places to camp by the streams.

  • State – Virginia
  • hiking distance – 14 miles
  • Hiking time – overnight
  • Trail map

Shenandoah National Park

With views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley, this hike passes by Skyline Drive. It’s a long hike but not difficult. You can enjoy the wonders of nature here and will likely be able to spot white-tailed deer in the area. If you wish, cabins are available to spend the night as well as local shops where you can restock.

The Blue Mountains, from Port Clinton to Lehigh Gap

From Port Clinton to Lehigh Gap, hikers can enjoy scenic Pennsylvania farmland and spend nights at five different lodges. This is a great place to spot migrating birds of prey as well as take in the views from Bake Oven Knob and the Pinnacle.

  • State – Pennsylvania
  • hiking distance – 40 miles
  • Hiking time – 4 days
  • Trail map

Delaware River

Scale the towers of Kittatinny Ridge and stand a thousand feet above the Delaware River. The views are inspiring. You can also experience Sunfish Pond, the southernmost glacial lake on the Appalachian Trail. You can stay on the main part of the trail here or hike the side trails in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

  • State – New Jersey/Pennsylvania
  • hiking distance – 15.9 miles
  • Hiking time – 2 days
  • Link to trail maps

Related: What You Need to Know Before Trying to Hike Mount Washington

Anthony’s nose


This is a short but challenging hike that starts at the lowest part of the Appalachian Trail along the Hudson River. Hikers will then make the difficult ascent of Anthony’s Nose. You can do this route in one day or in the afternoon. You can extend the hike by adding the 6 km with the Camp Smith Trail.

  • State – New York
  • hiking distance – 2.2 miles
  • Hiking time – a short day round trip
  • Trail map

Taconic Highlands


Travel from Salisbury to Jug End along this two-day trek. Here you can walk through old-growth forest, admire waterfalls, and climb Mount Everett. There are eight shelters available to choose from to spend the night.

  • State -Massachusetts
  • hiking distance – 16.9 miles
  • Hiking time – 2 days
  • Trail map

Presidential range


This section crosses the White Mountains and is known to be one of the most difficult parts of the Appalachian Trail. Arguably the greatest hiking route in the United States, you’ll pass by famous Mount Moosilauke, Mount Washington, and the Kinsman Range. Some of this hike is considered tundra and you need to prepare properly, but you will be rewarded with some of the best views of the lakes in the valley. Luckily, six huts are available to rest in throughout your journey, so take advantage of them.

  • State – New Hampshire
  • hiking distance – 88 miles
  • Hiking time – 9 days
  • Trail map

The 100 mile desert


From Monson, Maine, the Appalachian Trail begins an incredible 100-mile stretch of wilderness that does not cross a paved road. Committing to the entire hike is a daunting task, but just covering the first thirty kilometers is an incredible journey in itself. There are four shelters and plenty of campsites along the way to keep shelter. If you want to attempt the entire trek, you should plan a twelve-day trek.

  • State -Maine
  • hiking distance – 29.9 miles
  • Hiking time – 3 days
  • Trail map

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