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HikingJosh
06-11-2011, 13:26
Hey everybody, Iím a thru-hike hopeful who doesnít have much hiking experience but wants to get some before I decide to make the journey. I want to hike for about a month sometime between mid August to the end of September to get a feel for the AT and exactly what Iím getting myself into. What Iíd love are some opinions about what part of the trail you would suggest hiking during this period. Iím going with my father so I wouldnít want to do the most strenuous part. Also, since I live in Florida, I would like to stay as far south on the trail as possible while still avoiding the blistering heat. Iíd also like to have the opportunity to travel into town every three or four days so Iíd prefer not going long stretches without a way to civilization. And if those towns are close to the trail that would be even better. There might not be a place that matches up with all of this criteria, but I'd love to hear some suggestions if any of this rang a bell. Thanks in advance for any help, I truly appreciate it and hope to talk to you guys in the future. Josh

Cookerhiker
06-11-2011, 14:01
For that timeframe, I'd normally suggest Vermont but since you want to be further south, I suggest starting at Allen Gap north of Hot Springs and hiking south. Allen Gap is 286 miles from Springer so you'll have time to enjoy the hike; if you want to hike a faster pace in your month, start at Erwin further north, 340 miles from Springer.

Aside from Hot Springs itself (which you'll likely reach on Day 2), you're usually hiking at high elevations to minimize the heat. By starting at Allen Gap (as opposed to Hot Springs), you'll comply with the GSMNP's rules on shelter reservations, i.e. you don't have to make them. And hiking through the Smokies early in your hike also means cooler temps. since you're at 5-6,000'.

Now re. towns: do you want a town per se or a place to shower, spend the night, and resupply? Hot Springs is literally on the Trail - no problems there. There are hostels at both ends of the Smokies, then comes the Nantahala Outdoor Center 29 miles after Fontana. These places have the amenities most long-distance hikers need. At Winding Stair Gap (Rt. 64), Franklin is a hiker-friendly town with WB's Ron Haven owning 3 motels and picking up hikers at the trailhead.

Slo-go'en
06-11-2011, 14:16
Although this is probably farther north then you'd like to travel, I think your best bet would be to start up in NY, just before the trail crosses into CT. In 4-6 weeks you could easily make it through Vermont to Hanover, NH. (300 miles)

Mid-Aug to end of Sept would give you mild days and cool nights and at least some fall colors towards the end. CT and MA are reasonably easy and pleanty of resupply options close to the trail.

Getting on and off the trail is also reasonably easy. You can take a bus, train or fly to NYC, then a commuter train to the AT near Pawling, NY. From Hanover, NH you can get a bus to Boston and then bus, train or fly home.

Tinker
06-11-2011, 17:42
Although this is probably farther north then you'd like to travel, I think your best bet would be to start up in NY, just before the trail crosses into CT. In 4-6 weeks you could easily make it through Vermont to Hanover, NH. (300 miles)

Mid-Aug to end of Sept would give you mild days and cool nights and at least some fall colors towards the end. CT and MA are reasonably easy and pleanty of resupply options close to the trail.

Getting on and off the trail is also reasonably easy. You can take a bus, train or fly to NYC, then a commuter train to the AT near Pawling, NY. From Hanover, NH you can get a bus to Boston and then bus, train or fly home.

I hiked this section during the past few years and would agree that it doesn't have any particularly difficult places (one exception being a short, vertical drop in Ct. somewhere), and it's as close as a person could get to civilization without feeling like he/she is hemmed in by it.
Farther south, I haven't hiked anything except for Ga. and a bit along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Ga. is pretty tough, and the AT along the parkway is maybe a bit too tame for my liking.

Cookerhiker
06-11-2011, 18:33
...(one exception being a short, vertical drop in Ct. somewhere), ....

Sounds like St. John's Ledges. Hiking NOBO, it's a verticle drop as you said but the reward is the easy walk along the Housatonic.

Tinker
06-11-2011, 18:36
Sounds like St. John's Ledges. Hiking NOBO, it's a verticle drop as you said but the reward is the easy walk along the Housatonic.
That's it. It interrupted my "run" through Conn. (the only way I remember it is from the pictures that I took :rolleyes: :o).

HikingJosh
06-11-2011, 23:29
Thanks for the information everyone, it's been very helpful in pinpointing a starting point. Allen Gap sounds very appealing, I'm trying to gather some info about the area, mostly how to get to Allen Gap and then the trail. Just curious if anybody who has started in this area has any suggestions? Really appreciate everyone's help, thanks again.

Cookerhiker
06-12-2011, 12:03
Thanks for the information everyone, it's been very helpful in pinpointing a starting point. Allen Gap sounds very appealing, I'm trying to gather some info about the area, mostly how to get to Allen Gap and then the trail. Just curious if anybody who has started in this area has any suggestions? Really appreciate everyone's help, thanks again.

I section-hiked SOBO from Allen Gap to Wallace Gap in Fall of '04 - my journal (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=83589) gives you an idea of the hiking conditions. I was fortunate in that a friend who I had helped on his thruhike gave me a shuttle the entire distance. And of course, I wasn't going all the way to Springer.

Presuming you to be hiking to Springer, there are a number of shuttlers serving North Georgia. The ATC-published shuttlers list (http://www.appalachiantrail.org/docs/default-document-library/AT%20Shuttle%20List%20WEB%205-21-11.pdf) gives you an idea of shuttlers and public transportation options.

If I was coming from Florida, I'd look at 2 transportation options, both of which involve leaving my car at Amicalola Falls State Park:

1. Getting a shuttle all the way to Allen Gap - this could be expensive.
2. Getting a shuttle from Amicalola to the nearest public transportation point (Gainesville?) or all the way to Atlanta, flying or taking a bus to Asheville, NC, and a separate shuttle to Allen Gap. This may be less expensive. In addition to Asheville, look into flying to Tri-Cities or Knoxville.

For a hike this long, I recommend you purchase the Thruhikers Companion available from the ATC (https://www.atctrailstore.org/catalog/iteminfo.cfm?itemid=678&compid=1) and also stocked in many outdoors outfitters. You'll find info on transportation, resupplying, town amenities, etc. and is especially useful if you end up having to cut your trip short.

Hope it works out! Have a great hike!

coachthatwantsto
06-13-2011, 00:14
If you want a test, start in georgia and go north. I just did the 1st 3 days of the trek, and I was told by 2 former thru hikers, that now help others, that just over 40% of those that start north stop before exiting georgia. If you think you wanna do it, this is a good test.

HikingJosh
06-17-2011, 20:43
Thanks again for all the information provided in this thread. It was been immensely helpful.

I received my Thruhikers Companion in the mail yesterday and have decided Allen's Gap is a great place to start. I haven't found a lot of specific information about Allen's Gap though. Does anyone have any pictures or can give a description of the it? It seems pretty remote. I've decided I'm going to fly into Asheville and find a shuttle. Online I've only been able to find services that drive from Asheville to Hot Springs though, does anyone know a shuttle service I should seek out?

Thanks again for all the help, you are all making this goal seem more attainable to me.

Cookerhiker
06-17-2011, 20:57
Thanks again for all the information provided in this thread. It was been immensely helpful.

I received my Thruhikers Companion in the mail yesterday and have decided Allen's Gap is a great place to start. I haven't found a lot of specific information about Allen's Gap though. Does anyone have any pictures or can give a description of the it? It seems pretty remote. I've decided I'm going to fly into Asheville and find a shuttle. Online I've only been able to find services that drive from Asheville to Hot Springs though, does anyone know a shuttle service I should seek out?

Thanks again for all the help, you are all making this goal seem more attainable to me.

If you can get a shuttle to Hot Springs, the same shuttler can also bring you to Allen Gap - it's not a long drive.

Cookerhiker
06-17-2011, 21:12
In Post #8 above, I furnished a link to my journal in which I started a SOBO from Allen Gap. You can get some idea of what it's like to hike at least as far as Winding Stair Gap about 184 miles further.

My journal includes this photo (http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=73183) taken at the Allen Gap trailhead but it doesn't show much.

From Hot Springs, the shuttler takes US 70 east, take a left on NC Rt. 212 for only 3 miles, left on NC Rt. 208 which goes up to the Trail. It becomes TN Rt. 70 (not the same as US Rt. 70) but I think if you cross the border, you've gone too far. At any rate, it's not a long drive from Hot Springs.

HikingJosh
06-17-2011, 21:24
In Post #8 above, I furnished a link to my journal in which I started a SOBO from Allen Gap. You can get some idea of what it's like to hike at least as far as Winding Stair Gap about 184 miles further.

My journal includes this photo (http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=73183) taken at the Allen Gap trailhead but it doesn't show much.

From Hot Springs, the shuttler takes US 70 east, take a left on NC Rt. 212 for only 3 miles, left on NC Rt. 208 which goes up to the Trail. It becomes TN Rt. 70 (not the same as US Rt. 70) but I think if you cross the border, you've gone too far. At any rate, it's not a long drive from Hot Springs.

I really enjoyed reading your journal, tore through that section of your hike in less than a day.

It didn't appear Hot Springs and Allen's Gap were far from each other, just hadn't found any info about a shuttle specifically going to Allen's Gap from Asheville but many to Hot Springs. I'll just have to get on the phone and make some calls.

ScottP
06-18-2011, 11:43
I don't really know much of anything about it, but there's an Ozarks highland trail. Might be worth looking into

http://www.hikearkansas.com/oht_map.html

Cookerhiker
06-18-2011, 16:27
I don't really know much of anything about it, but there's an Ozarks highland trail. Might be worth looking into

http://www.hikearkansas.com/oht_map.html

His timeframe is August-September, not the ideal time to hike the hot low elevations of the Ozarks.

ScottP
06-18-2011, 16:32
His timeframe is August-September, not the ideal time to hike the hot low elevations of the Ozarks.

Thanks for the feedback. I might hike that trail sometime. what timeframe would you recommend? I think I might even enjoy it as a winter trip.

Cookerhiker
06-18-2011, 16:36
Thanks for the feedback. I might hike that trail sometime. what timeframe would you recommend? I think I might even enjoy it as a winter trip.

Here are the results of searching the "Other Trails" forum.
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/search.php?searchid=10252415

I didn't go through these but I believe late Fall (late October - November) and late winter (late February through March) are good times.