View Full Version : Especially scenic sections

09-02-2013, 14:03
I would like to eventually do a thru hike of the AT however, at the moment I can't and would like to do some sections in the mean time. To kind of get an idea of what I would be getting myself into and to go out and hike more! Once I retire I plan on taking the time between the military and whatever I do next to try a thru hike. Maybe even complete a section hike of the AT until then.

Preferably sections that are very scenic or have a good number of side trails to choose from. I'm sure some areas have more breathtaking views than others. Or have some interesting things to do near the trail that I wouldn't necessarily want to spend a day doing during a thru hike. Up to 3 day section, maybe 5 day section a little down the road. The closer to Maryland and New York the better for now as my dad lives in NY and I'm stationed in MD.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!


09-02-2013, 14:21
I've only done about 500 miles of the AT, so there's a lot of it that I haven't seen. As far as getting onto the trail and learning what it's all about, Maryland is a great place to get started. The terrain is among the easier sections, the climate is moderate, and you're not far from civilization.

About views: There's something really awesome about coming around a bend and getting a wide-angle view of mountain ranges, distant haze, green valleys, and big big sky. But it's also awesome to take in the small views, the salamander, the autumn leaves collecting on the ground, the lichens, the way the rain runs down the hill, or the way the light glistens on the wet foliage. Wherever you are, enjoy that place, that view.

Some of my favorite sections so far include Grayson Highlands in SW Virginia, from Newfound Gap through the Smokies to Hot Springs NC, Shenandoah, and the piece between Springer and Neels Gap. Some places I'm really looking forward to include McAfee's Knob (in two weeks!!!), Vermont (next month!), and someday Katahdin and the 100-mile wilderness.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your hike, and welcome to WB!

09-02-2013, 15:05
My experience with the AT has been with the southern end up to just north of Damascus and there the Trail is in many parts a "long green tunnel". I found that mostly the views just weren't there. Realizing this on one trip I did the Smokies late, Sept - Oct, to enjoy the leaves turning and nearly froze my whatever off! My last trip was earlier and warmer from Davenport Gap North and I enjoyed the open balds immensely. YRMV of course.


09-02-2013, 15:46
Maine. More specifically Mahoosuc Range and Bigelows. If you are looking for scenic Blue Blazed trails, try Sugarloaf and Abraham.

Another Kevin
09-02-2013, 16:07
To quote hikerboy57, "it's all good."

Maryland and New York are not noted for being the most scenic sections. Harriman has a few nice overlooks, but a lot of them aren't on the A-T. (Try the eastern section of the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail, or the Timp-Torne trail, for some nicer views.)
http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4104/4988879892_db8abd433c_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/4988879892/)
Croton Point, Nyack and the Tappan Zee from The Timp (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/4988879892/) by ke9tv (http://www.flickr.com/people/ke9tv/), on Flickr

Harriman is also full of interesting history. There are ghost towns, abandoned mines and iron furnaces, ruined mansions, old cemeteries, and so on, all within fairly short distances of The Trail.
http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4126/4988898264_48823f2c01_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/4988898264/)
Lower tunnel - north portal (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/4988898264/) by ke9tv (http://www.flickr.com/people/ke9tv/), on Flickr

The NYNJTC web site has a lot of Harriman/Sterling Forest/North Jersey hikes listed.

Farther from New York, you run into the Taconics of northeastern Connecticut and southeastern Massachusetts. The views from Bear Mountain, Race Mountain and Mount Everett are quite nice (perhaps best enjoyed on snowshoes, when there is little haze and the leaves are off the trees).
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8508/8525890251_db85912b56_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/8525890251/)
Mount Race panorama (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/8525890251/) by ke9tv (http://www.flickr.com/people/ke9tv/), on Flickr

If you're a view junkie, and you don't insist on doing the A-T proper - after all, you'll be planning to thru-hike it later! - you could set your sights an hour or so farther afield from NY and head up to the Catskills. The breathaking views from the Catskill Escarpment and the Catskill High Peaks rival those to be found anywhere, and inspired an entire school of landscape painting (Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, Sanford Robinson Gifford, Frederic Church being perhaps the most distinguished members).
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7420/9518931387_89f3237e45_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/9518931387/)
View north from Burnt Knob (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/9518931387/) by ke9tv (http://www.flickr.com/people/ke9tv/), on Flickr
http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2862/9514469053_41bdb4ae7d_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/9514469053/)
View south from Burnt Knob (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/9514469053/) by ke9tv (http://www.flickr.com/people/ke9tv/), on Flickr

The Catskills will also be good practice for New Hampshire and Maine. While all the peaks are below the treeline, there are some very rugged trails. The Devil's Path has an aggregate 18,000 feet of elevation change on its 24.6-mile route, and the Burroughs Range and Escarpment are also challenging. Some of the scrambles reach a 5.3 or 5.4. There are also ample opportunities for bushwhacking. Nearly half of the high peaks, and some of the finest overlooks, waterfalls, and ruins, are off-trail.

How not to do the Burroughs Range Trail:



09-02-2013, 16:23
I will look into all of this and show my dad too so that we can make some plans for when I visit or he comes down to visit. Thanks for all the ideas! I don't mind at all doing hikes other than the AT. My dad is currently trying to do all the fire towers in NY I think he has done a lot of them in the past few years. My dad particularly likes historic stuff so thanks for the tip about Harriman!

Keep 'em coming :D!


09-02-2013, 17:11
Wow, Kevin, that's some good stuff! You've making my feet feel itchy for some trail dirt.

09-02-2013, 17:27
Scenic is all relative. From what I have seen there are nuggets scattered up and down the trail. I'm from PA and unfortunately the stretch from Harpers Ferry to DWG only has a couple of nuggets. Those would be The Pinnacle Area and just south of DWG. Massachusetts has a few cool areas especially near the Ct border. I believe one area is called Race Brook Falls. the whites in NH is great....... Point is there is a bit of something all along.

Now the relative part. If you are willing to travel, skip the AT all together and go the the Sierra, Cascades, Glacier or many of the other drop dead gorgeous areas that put the average and even extraordinary areas of the AT to shame. May not be a popular POV on an AT related site but I believe it is 100% accurate.

09-02-2013, 19:11
Hey AK, don't forget Bierstadt and Cropsey, lol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hudson_River_School_artists

Another Kevin
09-02-2013, 20:24
Cropsey! Yes, that was an omission!

Bierstadt, I really associate more with Yosemite. He surely painted in the Hudson River School style, but I don't know if he ever even visited the Catskills. The others I mentioned all painted Catskill and Hudson Valley scenes extensively.

I find it intriguing that Ansel Adams so disdained Bierstadt's (and Moran's) work, when his own was so similar in subject and composition.

09-02-2013, 23:05
Here are several scenic 3-5 day sections to consider within driving distance of Maryland:

1) Atkins to Damascus, Virginia: Great, expansive views through Grayson Highlands

2) A few days north of Roanoke, Virginia to a few days south: Views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, McAfee Knob, Dragon's Tooth

3) Lehigh Gap to Delaware Water Gap: Very rocky, but there are some nice views from the ridgeline and DWG is impressive

4) Housatonic River through southern Massachusetts: Very pretty in the Fall, and relatively easy

5) White Mountains of New Hampshire

6) Maine

09-03-2013, 18:02
It really depends on how far you wanna drive. NH, ME, southern VA, and the Smokeys had the greatest views (IMO)...but the trade off is you're gonna work for those miles! In all honesty, I would check out NY or NJ. Towns are relatively frequent if you want to/ need to get off of the trail, the trail was scenic, and the terrain wasn't bad at all. There was one mountain that started with a W that was kind of a pain, but really that's it. Also, considering where you're at, I would look just north of Hamburg, PA. That area has the knife's edge, as well as the pinnacle. Not the greatest views, or coolest place on the trail (by any means) but it would be a relatively nice intro to the trail. If you're willing to travel further, VT is always beautiful, especially with Fall Foilage! You're also not that far from Shenandoah Nat'l PArk, and that was a nice area as well. Note, if you go during peak foilage, there WILL be a lot of people out there! Front Royal was bursting at the seams while I was there!

Double Wide
09-03-2013, 20:10
I have not been yet, but having seen Rainman's slide show of the Whites, I was absolutely blown away by how absolutely stunning the Whites are on clear days. Lump-in-your-throat gorgeous!

Can't wait to get there on my own two feet next summer.

Double Wide
09-03-2013, 20:11

09-04-2013, 06:28
Awesome ideas! I'm keeping this thread bookmarked for when we plan our next outing thanks again!!!

09-04-2013, 06:49
Can't beat Atkins to Thomas Knob Shelter as far as open views go in VA. I don't mind the green tunnel so Atkins to Damascus is one of my favorite sections.

09-09-2013, 09:20
The White Mountains and Maine are very scenic but further away than you'd like, plus they're the most difficult section.

If your idea of "scenic" includes wildflowers, then you can't go wrong with Shenandoah NP in spring. If you hike in late April, you'll catch views because the trees aren't leafed out yet plus you'll see the early flowers.

09-09-2013, 09:49
Its been a few years but I seem to remember the Greenwood Lake section in New York had some nice stretches with ridge views.

Hard to beat the whites for long views, if you have are willing to spend the money, the AMC hut option gives you all the views and a lot less conditioning as you really only need a light pack to go hut to hut.

09-11-2013, 17:14
The Grayson Highlands around Damascus are really beautiful.

And I get where Malto is coming from about the mountains out West. I used to feel the same way. But now I realize that it's not better, it's just different. Only after hiking exposed or above treeline for miles and miles, did I learn to appreciate the simple beauty of lush moss and green plants that we have in the East.

09-11-2013, 19:27
The Great Smoky National Park is AWESOME, once you get up in Elevation it's absolutely breath taking.
Any part of the Presidential Range.
Rock Gap VA through the S.N.P to Harper's Ferry is pretty nice.

Del Q
09-11-2013, 21:44
With where you live, I would 2nd these selections.

Here are several scenic 3-5 day sections to consider within driving distance of Maryland:

1) Atkins to Damascus, Virginia: Great, expansive views through Grayson Highlands

2) A few days north of Roanoke, Virginia to a few days south: Views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, McAfee Knob, Dragon's Tooth

09-11-2013, 22:46
New Jersey is surprisingly pretty in the first ten miles from Delaware Water Gap. Kitatinny Mountain is lovely and then up to Sunfish Pond, the first glacial pond on the AT.
I loved Harriman State Park too - lots of big rocks.
As folks have said, Maryland is nice too - more in the woods but a few nice views and some great history, like the first Washington Monument. And the trail is really easy overall.
I'm partial to the Three Ridges area in Virginia off the Blue Ridge Parkway - I have friends in Charlottesville so I go back there regularly, and a bit south of that, McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. Spectacular and they make a nice several day hike. You can even stop at a hotel in Daleville partway through!
The Whites and Maine go without saying, but I hesitate to go back and hike those without trail legs...

Last Call
09-12-2013, 03:26
Blood Mountain summit.....CCC Lodge intact....awesome scenery to whet the appetite for more trail; best first breather at Mountain Crossings after you descend Blood....are they finished restoring the Hostel yet?

09-12-2013, 07:15
With where you live, I would 2nd these selections.

Here are several scenic 3-5 day sections to consider within driving distance of Maryland:

1) Atkins to Damascus, Virginia: Great, expansive views through Grayson Highlands

2) A few days north of Roanoke, Virginia to a few days south: Views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, McAfee Knob, Dragon's ToothI concur. Great views for the effort, and very pleasant hiking.