View Full Version : Advice on an Appalachian 10-14 day in October

LeeAnne Templeman
07-25-2012, 01:30
I am looking at spending 10-14 days on the AT this fall, in mid-October. I am new to the east coast so I don't have much tribal knowledge around what leg I should select.

I am 28yo Female traveling solo. I have completed multiple 30+ day NOLS courses including WFR and have done solo off-trail trips prior so I feel adequately prepared technically to handle any leg of the trip as far as I can tell. Mostly I am looking for tips or advice on which segment offers the most in a shortened period of time and would be accessible in Mid October. So far I am eyeing the northernmost leg, the 100mile Wilderness, but given the fall climate that far north I am not sure I want to carry the supplies needed for the entire trip as there are no towns.

Any favorite 80-130mile legs of the trip that offer the most in terms of nature, scenery, wildlife? I would like to go lite, so if there is 1 or 2 reration locations that would be the best fit. I will be bringing my own tarp, so I am not too concerned with the shelters.

Thank you very much for any feedback here!


07-25-2012, 04:24
I recommend the Roan Highlands area. Logistics are easy, the hiking is moderately challenging, the scenery is amazing, especially in the autumn. Maybe Erwin to Damascus...

07-25-2012, 05:13
Maine is the best!
That's what I would do.

It does get dark quicker up there however.
Take a headlamp.
And maybe a book.

Have fun.

07-25-2012, 05:35
What kind of experience do you want - do you want to feel like you're in the wilderness (which you can sorta do but not really) or do you want to see a town or 2, eat real food, and sleep in a real bed a few times?

Nevermind.. I missed your last paragraph.

Maine or the Roan area as mentioned would be nice.

07-25-2012, 17:00
LT...I took the advice of a previous post and purchased a book titled "Trekking the Southern Appalachians". It has 25 detailed hikes ranging from 30 - 462 miles. The Roan area mentioned above is one of the hikes. It may be worth a look. I got it primarily to find multi-day loop hikes not requiring a shuttle.

07-25-2012, 18:18
To stick within the mileage range that you are looking for, I would modify the Erwin to Damascus suggestion just a bit and suggest from Carver Gap (north of Erwin at mile 376.9) to Fox Creek (north of Damascus at 507.6). This gives you 130.7 miles. It takes you over the Roan area balds, past Laurel Falls and Lake Watauga, through Damascus and beyond to include the Grayson Highlands Area. It would be a shame to be that close and not include Grayson Highlands. That area is a real treat.

Papa D
07-25-2012, 20:34
How about the entire Vermont section of the AT - - do this SOBO because the last part is cooler than the first parts - start in Hanover, NH headed south (west at this point actually) - - finish up by hiking up Mt. Greylock (near N. Adams, MA) - this whole hike would be 154.4 miles - - slightly longer than you wanted but there are no "really big climbs" -- Killington, Peru Peak, Bromley, Stratton, and coming out from the road at VT 9. If you started at US 4 and went south, that cuts the trip to about 105 miles (perfect!)
Maine is super pretty too as is NC (Roans and Grayson Highlands) - it sort of depends on where you want to travel. I'd say that hiking in Southern Maine is no joke - - if you hike in the Mahoosuc Range, be prepared to hike very hard and in October be ready for some snow - - there are nearly never ending ups and downs (PUDS) in Southern Maine. The 100 mile wilderness is much flatter but Oct is going to be pushy on the weather.
The Roans and Grayson Highlands are pretty but the most scenic areas pass very fast - - you can hike the Roans in one day - same with Grayson Highlands. Oct is also hunting season in NC/TN/GA - BOLO for those hunter dudes.
The only place on the AT you would probably want to avoid in Oct is the White Mountains - - it would be very cold and icy come october there (I think).
All the areas mentioned (really anywhere on the AT) can see snow in October - - or conversely quite warm temps - - it's a transitional month for sure.

Have fun.

09-02-2012, 19:53
I've done some of the NC and Va sections. I'm doing a 68 mile section in October from Erwin, TN south to Hot Springs, NC. You could continue south and take in Max Patch (would add an additional 20.6 miles). This would take you to two of the nicest balds to view the Autumn colors. Easy to get a shuttle from Max Patch as well. I've used Bluff Mtn Outfitters in the past...they can get you back to Erwin.

09-02-2012, 21:05
I'm with PapaD. Vermont is really nice.

09-02-2012, 21:27
You could try:
North Carolina Longsdale Loop
5 Day, 58 mile hike:

"Hikers seeking a great hike should consider the 58 mile loop hike, utilizing the Appalachian and NC Bartram Trails, starting and ending at Aquone Hostel, Nantahala NC. 1-828-321-2340

Since this hike starts and finishes at the same place, Aquone Hostel can be used as a "base camp". This will allow you to take advantage of Aquone Hostel lodging and great home cooked country food, the night before and the night after the hike.

You can leave your vehicle at the Hostel and arrange a shuttle to the start point, arrange for pick-up along the route. Don’t forget to ask about our slack-packing, this way you enjoy the hike with the minimum amount of discomfort. 1 828 321 2340

Day One 8.1 miles: The hike starts out on the Bartram trail (BT) (Yellow Blaze) at Nantahala Lake (SR 1310) Aquone hostel will shuttle you to the start point and will advise where necessary. The climb out from the lake is very steep, so aim to take it easy, plan to have lunch at FR711, the hike from there is a lot easier. At some point the AT will join the BT and both trails will guide you to Wayah Bald, do spend some time at Wayah Bald Tower 5,342’ the views are outstanding. The AT and BT, will guide you from the tower, loosing height until the AT & BT go their separate ways. Note: The AT will turn left and the BT will turn right ( To Franklin), make sure you follow the White Blaze, not Yellow. A short distance down the AT you will come to Wayah Shelter 4759’, this is where you will spend your first night.
Day Two: Wayah Shelter to Wesser Shelter (10.6 miles), After a good night's rest and breakfast at Wayah Shelter a nice easy hike to Wesser Shelter 4115’, take the AT North to Cold Springs Shelter (4.8 miles) where I recommend you have lunch. Water is available here, be sure to treat or filter the water. Once again take the AT North to Telico Gap (3.6 miles). Please note this is a Hostel Pick-up point should you wish to spend the night 1-828-321-2340 you can call just before or from the gap, reception is poor so you may have to move around a little to get a decent signal. The distance from Telico Gap to Wesser shelter miles, is 2.2 with quite a hard climb to Wesser Tower 4,627 feet, so take your time, the views are outstanding so it’s worth the climb. Note: The Water Point is 150 yards above the shelter, and you will pass it on your way in so do stop and fill-up before arrival at the shelter.

Day Three: From Wesser Shelter to Sassafras Shelter 4330’ (12.6 miles) Take the trail North to the NOC SR 19 (5.7 miles), the trail is very strenuous practically downhill all the way and can be very demanding on your knees and ankle joints, so take your time. NOC (2,100’) is a great place to have lunch and they serve outstanding ‘Hiker-Burgers’. After lunch cross the bridge and rail tracks at the NOC and begin your ascent to Sassafras Shelter 6.9 miles where you will spend the night, take plenty of water breaks and frequent stops, because of the tremendous height gain.

Day Four: Sassafras Shelter to Percy Creek Campsite (15.8 miles) Take the AT North 1.1 miles to Cheoah Bald 5,064’ where the trail will join section 7 of the Bartram Trail, this is the Northern Terminus of the BT in NC, follow the white & yellow blazes until the AT will head North and the BT will head South, take the BT south (Yellow Blaze) descending 8.6 miles to the hydro ‘Power-Plant’ Nantahala White Water put-in point 2,212’. (Some of the trail will cross the railway track and follow a cycle trail for 1.5 miles. This is a good lunch spot and a Hostel Pick-up point should you wish to return to the hostel. Looking at the ‘Power-Plant’ the trail-head (section 6) is on the right, follow the gravel road up to the water tower, where the trail will then enter the forest, follow the trail 5.6 miles to Percy Creek campsite, there are several springs and creeks here, an ideal place to spend the night.

Day Five: Percy Creek Campsite to Nantahala Lake (10.9 & Finish) Head South on the Bartram trail to Appletree Campsite (5.6 miles), you will meet Junaluska Road and also a trail-head sign, this is also a Hostel Pick-up point. Continue by crossing the road and walk a 20 yards to your right, you will see the trail follows a gravel road to below Nantahala Dam (2.9 miles), from the dam base climb some steps and follow the trail into the forest, there are some great views of Nantahala Lake 3013’ as it takes you to your finish point (2.4 miles)
I highly recommend that the Bartram Trail Maps be obtained and used in planning any hike on the Bartram. The maps are available on the NC Bartram Trail Society website online store. http://ncbartramtrail.org (http://ncbartramtrail.org/) (or available at Ranger Stations). The cost is only $15.00 for the entire set of seven maps, and you can use maps 1-4 to plan your hikes of the rest of the NC Bartram Trail. You may also want to consider becoming a member of the NC Bartram Trail Society.

As you hike the NC Bartram Trail, keep in mind that you will be taking a trip back in early US history. The trail follows, as near as possible, the travels of William Bartram through the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina in the mid 1770's
It's possible to make this a 3 day, 40 mile hike or less by getting a shuttle from Aqoune Hostel and arranging to be met at any of the Hostel Pick-up points.


Mountain Mike
09-03-2012, 00:46
NH or VT. From your experience I suggest the Long Trail & be flexible with start date or place to maximize fall color. They are truely wondrous as a west coast hiking partner said when she came east. But be aware that town stops/motels charge maximum rates at this time too due to leaf poppers.