View Full Version : Advice, please: 6 day hike on AT in early October

08-29-2008, 19:26
[hope this is the right forum to ask this]

I'm planning to take a one week (6 days or so) hike somewhere on the mid-southern AT the first week of October with three other guys. There will be four of us men hiking - from young 20s to young 40s.

My question: Can someone advise a good stretch of the AT to take? Criteria/notes:

- We'd need a way to get back to the van that we park at the start - not sure what the options are - hitchhiking?
- We're all in relatively good shape, and have some experience hiking
- We wouldn't mind not seeing a town or many people during the whole time - would rather have a remote location than a busy location
- I'm assuming Virginia, or perhaps Tennessee/NC would be the ideal portion of the AT to hike during this time, but am open to correction/other ideas. (I'm not a big cold-weather camper, but perhaps PA would be great that time of year?)
- Would rather not do 6 days in a green tunnel - hitting some peaks or balds would be great.

Thanks for any suggestions.

08-29-2008, 19:41
Start at Damascus and head north in VA. Grayson Highlands/ Mt Rogers area is very scenic. Might check with Lone WOlf about a shuttle. No real towns except off trail.

08-30-2008, 01:19
No need to do a loop. There are plenty of shuttle options. Opens up just about any section of At to hike. Do some research and you can pick your weather. At that time you can also choose the stage of leaf color change.

08-30-2008, 07:50
Grayson Highlands would be good or the section discussed in this thread a little south of there, since Grayson is popular and could be crowded during 'leaf viewing season':


You will find Appalachian Trail Pages maps and detailed trail data downloadable down through this thread. With one vehicle, the Harbour House shuttle (and safe place to park) makes a good option. If you wind up choosing this, looks like our group (Christian Brotherhood/Sisterhood) will just miss you guys as we are starting at Sam's Gap on the 11th. Good luck with your plans and hike!

Gray Blazer
08-30-2008, 20:34
There is no law that says you have to have a shuttle or do a loop. A lot of people hitch-hike, but, personally, I think that's an unnecessary risk. There are all kinds of loops. Maybe someone here will suggest some. Another option is hiking in one way for 3 days and then back to your vehicle. I'm happy doing that although I can understand why some people would never consider the notion.

08-30-2008, 20:45
I recently did Deep Gap right of the GA/NC border to NOC. You can get a shuttle at NOC or shuttle cars. NOC is a great place to hike to and will give you a place to clean up and get a good meal before leaving the next day. It is around 50 miles and not too strenuous. There is some nice terrain and views as well as an option to hit Franklin in the middle if you have any problems.

09-06-2008, 19:20
Hot springs is north of Asheville,NC. The AT runs right though town. North and south of Hot springs are both great sections. You can leave your car in town and get a shuttle there either north or south, and hike back to your car.

09-07-2008, 15:53
Thanks for the idea - where exactly do you get a shuttle?


09-07-2008, 17:21
See the attached file

09-07-2008, 17:59
Such questions are better asked in terms of miles, rather than days -- unless you also want to spell out a bit about the physical conditions and experience of those planning to go along.

I find that most people who do not hike regularly find 8-10 mile days -- or less if the terrain is rough -- most pleasurable. I can't offer much advice about places further south, but the White Mountains of New Hampshire offer a number of loop opportunities, as does Baxter Park in Maine.

In Maine, I've enjoyed Roaring Brook to Russell Pond to Northwest Basin to Chimney Pond, with perhaps a couple of nights at Chimney so as to explore on one day the Dudley, the Knife Edge, and either the Cathedral or Hamlin Ridge, Trails.

If your group is reasonably fast, spend two nights at Russell, also, and explore some of the wildest and least frequented parts of the "forever wild" park. Reservations will be needed but the crowds have pretty much diminished by early October.


09-07-2008, 18:12
Since you mentioned Virginia: Shenandoah National Park. You could do at least half or 2/3 of it easily, in six days.

09-07-2008, 18:43
Another possibility is Pearisburg to Rt. 311/Catawba (73 miles) or on to Daleville (92 miles). Some ups and downs but also some relatively level ridgewalks. You'll see the Keffer Oak, McAfee Knob (just beyond 311), some open pasture, nice views from the ridges, and definitely no towns.

Jack Tarlin
09-07-2008, 18:46
Also consider the Roan Highlands, which are spectacular that time of year. I'd ride to Kincora Hostel in Hampton TN and have the proprietor, Bob Peoples, shuttle you to Erwin. Then you could walk back North on the Trail to Kincora where a shower, bunk, and your car would be waiting for you. This would make a very pleasant 5-6 trip for you guys.

map man
09-07-2008, 21:23
You could do a custom-made loop trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, if for some reason you didn't want to mess with shuttles. Park your vehicle near Fontana Dam, take the Lakeshore Trail, then the Hazel Creek Trail, then a bit of the Welch Ridge Trail to get you to the AT (in 26 miles) at Silers Bald. Then hike 28 miles on the AT back to Fontana. Total mileage, 54 miles, or 9 miles per day for your six days. You'd be hiking sometimes in valleys, sometimes on ridges, and at enough different elevations to see some variety in flora. Or if you wanted to skip the hassle of having to make advance shelter reservations on the AT part of the hike, you can custom plan a loop that gets up on the AT from time to time, but never overnight there. The park web site has a very nice map of the park's network of trails (almost 800 miles of them!).

09-07-2008, 21:35
Thanks for the idea - where exactly do you get a shuttle?

Czech with Wayne or any of the other staff at Bluff Mountain Outfitters (http://www.bluffmountain.com/) in Hot Springs.

09-09-2008, 11:50
This is the latest version of the file posted previously.

09-09-2008, 18:35
The outfitter in town(hot springs) is called Bluff Mountain


They also do the shuttles. It's a good store with a lot of hiker friendly food.

09-20-2008, 14:35
Thanks for everyone's ideas. We've settled on going from Damascus on north, perhaps exiting around Atkins - we've got a friend in the area who can pick us up wherever we come out after six days on the trail, so we'll see how far we get.

Thanks again.