View Full Version : River / Creek Crossings Along the AT?

12-28-2011, 18:34
Hi Everyone,

My wife & I are in the early planning stages for 2015.

One thing we can't find any information on is the extent of river / creek crossings for the AT.

We normally bring along a pair of aqua socks on backpacking trips, but only if we know for sure we're going to need them. We don't cross rivers or creeks in barefeet because we find that it has too much risk for foot injuries for us. We don't use shoes in camp, and don't plan on bringing shoes specifically for towns either (that could double for creek crossing shoes) - so the only reason we'd have some lightweight shoes along is if they are needed for creek/river crossings.

How much of a factor is this for the AT?

Are there any AT sections (south/middle/north) where having water crossing shoes is critical? Any sections where it's completely dead weight?


12-28-2011, 18:37
The only section I can speak of for sure is the CT stretch. There are points where it'll cross over streams, but there (in my experiences) are always rocks to stop on, or logs to scatter over, and avoid submerging your feet in water.

My take on it though, is that dunking my feet in water, and not having to coordinate balance on a wet rock, will lead me to just trudge through it when I'm crossing them on my thru.

12-28-2011, 18:41
you cross creeks a lot, most aren't a big deal at all, hop some rocks ...Maine has the bigger crossings and some folks carry water socks or something. I didn't, I'd rather have wet hiking boots than stub a toe and have to leave the Trail.

Mountain Mike
12-28-2011, 21:59
Maine is only state that has real feet wet fords in normal conditions.

12-28-2011, 22:01
What he said. Although I've hiked in NH many a time with dangerous stream crossings. Turned back more than once. If you hit it in August, it may not be a problem.

12-28-2011, 22:20
Depends on the weather. The worse crossing I had were not even listed in the guide as crossing. I hiked into Gorham during an extended thunderstorm (there was actually a tornado outside of town that day) and the creeks that crossed the trail next to Rattle River were raging like crazy.

rusty bumper
12-28-2011, 22:21
In going from GA to ME, my first major stream crossing was knee-deep in NY after an all day torrential downpour. When I got to ME, there were numerous stream fords ranging from ankle deep to hip deep that came particularly wild after hurricane Irene had passed through. For all of these crossings, I just waded through with my Merrell Moabs and my Smart Wool socks on my feet. I didn't carry any "camp shoes" with me so I couldn't use those, and I would never consider crossing in bare feet....the streambed rocks are way too slippery for that. The Moabs drained very quickly and if the weather cooperated, they dried out pretty quickly as well.

12-29-2011, 16:25
Thanks everyone!

Good to know that in normal conditions it's not too big a deal until Maine.


12-29-2011, 16:51
Always loved this video of hiking the AT in Vermont:


Tennessee Viking
12-29-2011, 16:57
Most of everything in the south are simple rock hops or cross by bridge.

Don H
12-29-2011, 16:59
What Rusty said. Crossings in ME can be rock hops or hip deep raging torrents, just depends. I wore Crocs at times but if my shoes were already wet I just dove right in with shoes on.
The rest of the AT has bridges over anything too big to hop across.

Hey Rusty, how's the leg healing?

01-02-2012, 13:16
There is at least one new ford in Vermont, where a bridge was washed away after Hurricane Irene: Stony Brook (between Killington and Woodstock). My husband and I hiked through there this past October, after steady rains. It was swift-moving and only ankle/calf deep, but too deep to rock hop. Same for a creek on the south side of one of the roads into South Pomfret, Vermont.

ATC has fording tips on our website at www.appalachiantrail.org/hiking/hiking-basics/health-safety (scroll down to river and stream crossings.)

Laurie P.