• AT Elevation Gain and Loss, by Section

    AT Elevation Gain and Loss, by Section

    by map man (Steve Shuman)

    It's useful to know how much a trail goes up and down. Hikers thinking about hiking part of a trail, whether it's rugged or easy terrain they are looking for, can use information about how much a segment rises and falls to make their decision. Thru-hikers can use the information to help determine how long it's likely to take them to get to their next resupply point. And all hikers can benefit from this knowledge toward the end of the day when deciding whether to push on to that next shelter or road crossing.

    But what's the best way to figure out how much elevation gain and loss to expect? Some find the elevation profiles on AT maps to be handy, but sometimes these profiles have their drawbacks. It's not uncommon for hikers to be surprised by the ruggedness of a section of trail that looked easier on the elevation profile. And different maps often use different profile scales, some exaggerating rise and fall more than others.

    Others might use electronic databases like the ATC's centerline data available for download. But I have seen this centerline data, and data from commercial map companies as well, plotted graphically onto satellite photos or topographic maps (using google earth, for one), and it's easy to see that none of them have a data point at every single spot on the trail where rising ground changes to falling ground, and vice-versa, which is what you would need to accurately compute elevation gain and loss using these electronic resources.

    But a much more low-tech solution is available. One can look at the USGS 7.5 minute topographic maps for the entire trail and count the contour lines the trail crosses, going both up and down. All one needs are all the ATC maps (to spot any trail changes that have occured since the various USGS maps were published), USGS maps, and a lot of time and tolerance for tedium.

    So that's what I've been doing with much of my spare time for the last two months. And I have results to share. But first, a couple disclaimers. First, I know that elevation gain and loss per mile is not the only determiner of how difficult a stretch of trail is. Many who've hiked both the AT and Pacific Crest Trail will tell you that a day with 4000 feet of elevation gain on the PCT often feels much easier than a day on the AT climbing the same amount. The quality of the treadway has a lot to do with this. But, still, the amount of climbing and falling is still the one single most important factor contributing to ruggedness in most circumstances.

    Second, my data is only as current as the ATC maps, and those vary in publication date from very recent to as old as 1998. So any trail reroutes since the map publication will have an effect on some small sections.

    So, with those qualifications, here is the AT divided up into 37 segments. I chose the end points for these sections based on the trail towns and hostels and road crossings both section and thru-hikers are most likely to use as resupply destinations. All elevation rise and fall is expressed as feet per mile. Obviously elevation gain for a NOBO is elevation loss for a SOBO, and vice-versa, and the table should be read that way. I also list the miles for each section (mileage figures come from the 2007 edition of the AT Companion):


    Table 1 -- Elevation Gain and Loss by Section

    Southern Half

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    281.......285........276........31.4........Spring er - Neels Gap
    334.......340........328........36.1........Neels Gap - Hiawassee
    229.......216........242........40.0........Hiawas see - Franklin
    311.......329........294........54.9........Frankl in - Fontana
    302.......263........340........42.1........Fontan a - Gatlinburg
    256.......305........208........33.7........Gatlin burg - Green Corner Road
    276.......283........269........33.4........Green Corner Road - Hot Springs
    273.......270........275........68.0........Hot Springs - Erwin
    279.......273........286........70.6........Erwin - Dennis Cove Road
    235.......241........228........50.2........Dennis Cove Road - Damascus
    227.......223........230........75.3........Damasc us - Atkins
    239.......244........234........87.8........Atkins - Pearisburg
    251.......253........249........91.7........Pearis burg - Daleville
    258.......263........253........56.7........Dalevi lle - Glasgow
    270.......262........278........77.1........Glasgo w - Waynesboro
    212.......217........208........107.1.......Waynes boro - Front Royal
    219.......226........213........54.0........Front Royal - Harpers Ferry
    154.......150........157........78.7........Harper s Ferry - Pine Grove Furnace State Park

    Northern Half

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    138.......143........132........45.0........Pine Grove Furnace - Duncannon
    130.......129........130........70.0........Duncan non - Port Clinton
    132.......133........131........76.5........Port Clinton - Delaware Water Gap
    154.......152........155........63.1........Delawa re Water Gap - Vernon
    226.......229........223........45.8........Vernon - Bear Mountain Bridge
    216.......214........218........63.2........Bear Mountain Bridge - Kent
    199.......195........202........102.9.......Kent - Dalton
    222.......217........226........81.8........Dalton - Manchester Center
    228.......228........228........49.8........Manche ster Center - Rutland
    282.......299........266........45.6........Rutlan d - Hanover
    272.......265........279........43.9........Hanove r - Glencliff
    343.......341........345........53.5........Glencl iff - Crawford Notch
    364.......369........358........47.1........Crawfo rd Notch - Gorham
    366.......360........372........51.5........Gorham - South Arm Road (Andover)
    307.......308........307........58.6........South Arm Road - Stratton
    347.......353........340........16.7........Stratt on - East Flagstaff Road
    164.......164........165........56.6........East Flagstaff Road - Monson
    172.......173........172........109.3.......Monson - The Birches (Baxter SP)
    404.......404........404........10.4........Up and Down Katahdin

    236.......237........236........2180.1.....Entire Trail (about 515,000 ft. -- 97.5 miles)


    More notes on selection of these boundary points: Green Corner Road leads to the popular Standing Bear Farm Hostel; Dennis Cove Road leads to the popular Kincora Hostel; Glasgow VA is not frequented by a lot of hikers but no single town between Daleville and Waynesboro is these days, and I wanted to break up what would have otherwise been a 130 mile stretch; I chose East Flagstaff Road because the hiking ruggedness changes so drastically at that boundary between the east and west parts of the trail in Maine. Also, you might note that I list the whole trail as being 2180.1 miles. A little long, you say. But I notice that the only way to begin or end a hike on Springer or Katahdin is to go BOTH up and down these mountains (no helicopter rides available), so I add .9 miles at the very southern end (to account for a trip from USFS 42 to Springer and back) and 5.2 miles at the very northern end (a hike from The Birches up Katahdin and back). Other slight oddities about my mileage figures is that I like to use the bridges over rivers (the low point of that part of the trail) in or near trail towns as section boundary points instead of the town centers, which are often hard to locate exactly. I do this at Pearisburg, Harpers Ferry (the Potomac), DWG, Bear Mountain and Hanover.

    And my figure of 236 average feet/mile up and down for the whole trail is about 8 to 9% higher than the figures I've seen cited with the ATC given as the source (somewhere between 210 and 220, although I can't find a number given anywhere on the ATC's current web site). I believe that the ATC is undercounting by this amount because they are adding up all MAJOR up and downs but not sweating so much about some smaller ones.

    Here's why I say that. The guidebook for Maine lists the elevation gain and loss for seven different Maine sections corresponding to the seven maps that the Maine Appalachian Trail Club produces. For the western-most section, full of long, pronounced ups and downs, the elevation gain and loss numbers given come pretty close to matching the figures I calculate. For the eastern-most section, though, with many more gentle ups and downs (with the obvious exception of Katahdin), the guidebook says there is only 2200 feet of elevation gain for a southbound hiker between Katahdin and the south end of Nahmakanta Lake. I get a figure more than double that. In fact, to get 2200 feet as a total one would have to count ONLY the elevation gains of more than 100 feet. I suspect that many smaller ups and downs the length of the trail are not being counted by the ATC.

    On to another table. Ever wanted to settle a bar bet over which states on the AT have more or less rise and fall per mile? All right, you probably have better things to think about, but here is a table that breaks down average elevation gain and loss by state anyway. I also list the miles for each state. I don't try to separate Tennessee from North Carolina because the trail wanders back and forth between the two so many times:


    Table 2 -- Average Elevation Gain and Loss, by State

    AVG~~~MILES~~~STATE
    307.........76.1.........Georgia
    272........380.8........North Carolina/Tennessee
    241........535.7........Virginia
    173.........17.5.........West Virginia
    157.........40.9.........Maryland
    135........229.3........Pennsylvania
    160.........72.4.........New Jersey
    217.........88.2.........New York
    215.........51.6.........Connecticut
    208.........90.2.........Massachusetts
    239........149.8........Vermont
    329........161.0........New Hampshire
    242........286.6........Maine


    New Hampshire is the hilliest, followed by Georgia, which might surprise some. Least hilly are those four middle states, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Most closely resembling the entire AT for average elevation gain and loss are Vermont, Virginia and Maine, although Maine achieves this by averaging the two extremes of gentler east and rugged west, as I've already mentioned.

    The last table includes more information than any sane person would want to take in in one sitting. It contains SOBO, NOBO and average elevation gain for 338 trail segments! It shows these figures as well as the miles between every AT shelter, plus I throw in many hostel locations, trail towns and road crossings leading to popular places. In short, any place many hikers are likely to seek shelter. I break them into several sections to make them more readable and hopefully be helpful to section hikers. I'm not going to keep typing the word, "shelter" or "lean-to." Assume it's the name of a shelter unless it's obvious it's not. If the boundary point is a town the trail goes through, I'll mention the state it's in. If it's a road crossing that leads to a town I'll list the town and highway number. Also, elevation is counted at the point which a side trail exits the AT leading to a shelter. If a shelter is at least 100 feet above or below the AT exit point, I mention that with a plus or minus sign by the shelter name:


    Table 3 -- Elevation Gain and Loss from Shelter to Shelter

    Amicalola State Park GA - Hiawassee GA

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    311.......141........482.......(8.8)........Approa ch Trail
    100.......200..........0.........(.2).........Spri nger Mtn. - Springer Shelter
    261.......452.........70........(2.3)........Sprin ger Shelter - Stover Creek
    239.......204........275.......(5.1)........Stover Creek - Hawk Mtn. (+240 ft.)
    364.......384........345.......(7.3)........Hawk Mtn. - Gooch Mtn.
    200.......176........224.......(5.0)........Gooch Mtn. - Suches (GA 60)
    255.......220........290.......(6.9)........Suches - Woods Hole
    323........31........615........(1.3)........Woods Hole - Blood Mtn.
    375.......650........100.......(2.4)........Blood Mtn. - Neels Gap (US 19)
    342.......303........381.......(6.2)........Neels Gap - Whitley Gap (-200 ft.)
    400.......464........336.......(4.4)........Whitle y Gap - Low Gap
    239.......178........300.......(7.2)........Low Gap - Blue Mtn.
    345.......564........127.......(2.2)........Blue Mtn. - Helen (GA 75)
    382.......262........502.......(5.5)........Helen - Tray Mtn.
    358.......406........310.......(7.1)........Tray Mtn. - Deep Gap
    303.......434........171.......(3.5)........Deep Gap - Hiawassee (US 76)

    Hiawassee GA - Fontana NC

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    321.......270........372.......(4.3)........Hiawas see - Plumorchard Gap
    293.......192........395.......(7.3)........Plumor chard Gap - Muskrat Creek
    204.......196........212.......(4.9)........Muskra t Creek - Standing Indian
    192.......195........189.......(7.6)........Standi ng Indian - Carter Gap
    188.......165........212.......(6.8)........Carter Gap - Big Spring
    211.......325.........98........(5.3)........Big Spring - Rock Gap
    205.......211........200.......(3.8)........Rock Gap - Franklin (US 64)
    200........76.........324.......(3.7)........Frank lin - Siler Bald
    289.......278........301......(12.1).......Siler Bald - Cold Spring
    269.......331........207.......(5.8)........Cold Spring - Wesser Bald
    314.......506........122.......(4.9)........Wesser Bald - A. Rufus Morgan
    525.......900........150........(.8).........A. Rufus Morgan - NOC (US 19, 74)
    336.......139........533.......(6.9)........NOC - Sassafras Gap
    385.......418........352.......(9.1)........Sassaf ras Gap - Brown Fork Gap
    305.......380........230.......(6.1)........Brown Fork Gap - Cable Gap
    300.......382........218.......(6.6)........Cable Gap - Fontana Dam Shelter

    Fontana NC - Hot Springs NC

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    312.......188........435.......(11.3).......Fontan a Dam Shelter - Mollies Ridge
    328.......368........288........(2.5).......Mollie s Ridge - Russell Field
    193.......110........276........(2.9).......Russel l Field - Spence Field
    394.......394........394........(6.3).......Spence Field - Derrick Knob
    302.......247........356........(5.5).......Derric k Knob - Silers Bald
    271.......259........282........(1.7).......Silers Bald - Double Spring Gap
    292.......260........324........(6.3).......Double Spring Gap - Mt. Collins
    231.......329........133........(4.5).......Mt. Collins - Gatlinburg (US 441)
    240........93.........387........(3.0).......Gatli nburg - Icewater Spring
    262.......286........238........(7.4).......Icewat er Spring - Peck's Corner (-270 ft.)
    277.......238........315........(5.2).......Peck's Corner - Tri-Corner Knob
    197.......270........125........(7.7).......Tri-Corner Knob - Cosby Knob (-130 ft.)
    276.......428........124........(7.1).......Cosby Knob - Davenport Gap
    321.......461........182........(3.3).......Davenp ort Gap - Green Corner Road
    342.......261........422........(7.2).......Green Corner Road - Groundhog Creek
    234.......166........302........(8.2).......Ground hog Creek - Roaring Fork
    253.......229........278........(4.9).......Roarin g Fork - Walnut Mtn.
    275.......372........178........(9.9).......Walnut Mtn. - Deer Park Mtn.
    275.......437........113........(3.2).......Deer Park Mtn. - Hot Springs NC

    Hot Springs NC - Elk Park NC

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    278.......175........382.......(11.0).......Hot Springs - Spring Mtn.
    284.......279........288........(8.6).......Spring Mtn. - Little Laurel
    215.......176........253........(6.8).......Little Laurel - Jerry Cabin
    261.......312........210........(5.9).......Jerry Cabin - Flint Mtn.
    305.......268........341........(8.8).......Flint Mtn. - Hogback Ridge
    300.......260........340.......(10.0).......Hogbac k Ridge - Bald Mtn.
    289.......374........204.......(10.6).......Bald Mtn. - No Business Knob
    206.......330.........83.........(6.3).......No Business Knob - Erwin TN
    205........38.........371........(4.2).......Erwin - Curley Maple Gap
    269.......233........305.......(12.2).......Curley Maple Gap - Cherry Gap
    296.......290........301........(6.9).......Cherry Gap - Greasy Creek Gap
    189....... 84.........295........(1.9).......Greasy Creek Gap - Clyde Smith
    388.......250........525........(6.4).......Clyde Smith - Roan High Knob
    258.......375........142........(4.8).......Roan High Knob - Stan Murray
    282.......400........165........(1.7).......Stan Murray - Overmountain
    305.......405........205........(8.2).......Overmo untain - Apple House
    240.......400.........80.........(.5).........Appl e House - Elk Park (US 19E)

    Elk Park NC - Damascus VA

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SHELTER
    273.......239........307........(8.2).......Elk Park - Mounaineer
    227.......206........248........(9.5).......Mounta ineer - Moreland Gap
    318.......420........216........(6.1).......Morela nd Gap - Dennis Cove Road
    221.......379.........63.........(1.9).......Denni s Cove Road - Laurel Fork (+250 ft.)
    320.......320........320........(7.0).......Laurel Fork - Hampton (US 321)
    122.......111........133........(1.8).......Hampto n - Watauga Lake Shelter
    344.......235........453........(6.8).......Wataug a Lake Shelter - Vandeventer
    221.......182........259........(6.8).......Vandev enter - Iron Mtn.
    163.......158........168........(7.6).......Iron Mtn. - Double Springs
    222.......241........202........(8.3).......Double Springs - Abingdon Gap
    198.......292........104.......(10.0).......Abingd on Gap - Damascus VA

    Damascus VA - Pearisburg VA

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SHELTER
    283.......209........357.......(9.4)........Damasc us - Saunders
    269.......263........275.......(6.4)........Saunde rs - Lost Mtn.
    223.......141........305......(12.2)........Lost Mtn. - Thomas Knob
    188.......290.........86........(5.1)........Thoma s Knob - Wise
    180.......203........160.......(5.9)........Wise - Old Orchard
    232.......248........216.......(5.0)........Old Orchard - Hurricane Mtn.
    218.......268........167.......(9.1)........Hurric ane Mtn. - Trimpi
    197.......185........209......(10.6)........Trimpi - Partnership
    263.......270........256.......(7.1)........Partne rship - Chatfield
    191.......271........111.......(4.5)........Chatfi eld - Atkins (US 11)
    189.......111........267.......(2.7)........Atkins - Davis Path
    315.......314........316......(11.2)........Davis Path - Knot Maul
    282.......196........369.......(9.0)........Knot Maul - Chestnut Knob
    260.......360........160......(10.0)........Chestn ut Knob - Jenkins
    240.......219........261......(11.5)........Jenkin s - Bland (US 21/52)
    296.......243........348.......(2.3)........Bland - Helveys Mill
    197.......214........180.......(9.8)........Helvey s Mill - Jenny Knob
    180.......187........172......(14.2)........Jenny Knob - Wapiti
    205.......148........262.......(8.4)........Wapiti - Doc's Knob
    248.......361........136.......(8.7)........Doc's Knob - Pearisburg (US 460)

    Pearisburg VA - Daleville VA

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SHELTER
    248.......110........387.......(6.2)........Pearis burg - Rice Field
    220.......252........189......(12.3)........Rice Field - Pine Swamp Branch
    267.......138........395.......(3.9)........Pine Swamp Branch - Bailey Gap
    163.......230.........95........(8.8)........Baile y Gap - War Spur
    334.......303........366.......(5.8)........War Spur - Laurel Creek
    275.......222........328.......(6.4)........Laurel Creek - Sarver Hollow
    205.......337........ 73........(6.0)........Sarver Hollow - Niday
    260.......251........269.......(9.9)........Niday - Pickle Branch
    292.......294........290......(12.6)........Pickle Branch - Catawba (VA 311)
    280.......300........260.......(1.0)........Catawb a - Johns Spring
    210........80.........340.......(1.0)........Johns Spring - Catawba Mtn.
    354.......267........442.......(2.4)........Catawb a Mtn. - Campbell
    250.......293........207.......(6.0)........Campbe ll - Lamberts Meadow
    241.......285........198.......(9.4)........Lamber ts Meadow - Daleville (US 220)

    Daleville VA - Waynesboro VA

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    272.......132........412.......(5.0)........Dalevi lle - Fullhardt Knob
    289.......355........223.......(6.2)........Fullha rdt Knob - Wilson Creek
    186.......167........205.......(7.3)........Wilson Creek - Bobblets Gap
    219.......231........206.......(6.4)........Bobble ts Gap - Cove. Mtn.
    307.......354........261.......(6.9)........Cove Mtn. - Bryant Ridge
    328.......148........508.......(5.0)........Bryant Ridge - Cornelius Creek
    294.......211........377.......(5.3)........Cornel ius Creek - Thunder Hill
    263.......390........135......(12.4)........Thunde r Hill - Matts Creek
    73.........109........36........(2.2)........Matts Creek - Glasgow (US 501)
    247.......118........376.......(1.7)........Glasgo w - Johns Hollow
    305.......223........386.......(8.8)........Johns Hollow - Punchbowl
    240.......303........177.......(9.5)........Punchb owl - Brown Mtn. Creek
    311.......136........486.......(5.6)........Brown Mtn. Creek - Cow Camp Gap (-150 ft.)
    251.......227........275......(10.2)........Cow Camp Gap - Seeley-Woodworth
    287.......284........290.......(6.9)........Seeley-Woodworth - The Priest
    368.......508........227.......(7.4)........The Priest - Harpers Creek
    368.......287........448.......(6.2)........Harper s Creek - Maupin Field
    196.......230........162......(15.8)........Maupin Field - Paul C. Wolfe
    216.......192........240.......(5.0)........Paul C. Wolfe - Waynesboro (US 250)

    Waynesboro VA - Front Royal VA

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    211.......154........269.......(7.0)........Waynes boro - Calf Mtn.
    237.......240........234......(13.0)........Calf. Mtn. - Blackrock Hut
    138........92.........184.......(7.4)........Black rock - Loft Mtn. Campground
    252.......324........179.......(5.8)........Loft Mtn. - Pinefield Hut
    215.......171........259.......(8.2)........Pinefi eld - Hightop Hut
    226.......215........236......(11.7)........Highto p - Lewis Mtn. Campground
    200.......343.........57.........(.7).........Lewi s Mtn. - Bearfence Mtn. Hut (-100 ft.)
    158.......130........185.......(8.0)........Bearfe nce Mtn. - Big Meadows Campground
    194.......217........171.......(3.5)........Big Meadows - Rock Spring Hut
    217.......241........193......(15.3)........Rock Spring - Pass Mtn. Hut (-100 ft.)
    215.......221........209......(13.1)........Pass Mtn. - Gravel Springs Hut
    210.......246........175......(10.5)........Gravel Springs - Tom Floyd Wayside
    303.......462........145.......(2.9)........Tom Floyd - Front Royal (US 522)

    Front Royal VA - Harpers Ferry WV

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    187.......154........219.......(5.2)........Front Royal - Jim and Molly Denton
    242.......211........273.......(5.5)........Jim and Molly Denton - Manassas Gap
    205.......241........168.......(4.4)........Manass as Gap - Dick's Dome (-100 ft.)
    185.......210........160.......(8.4)........Dick's Dome - Rod Hollow
    326.......325........328.......(6.9)........Rod Hollow - Sam Moore
    343.......280........407.......(3.0)........Sam Moore - Bear's Den Hostel
    227.......203........251.......(7.9)........Bear's Den - Blackburn Trail Center (-300 ft.)
    159.......200........119.......(3.2)........Blackb urn Trail Center - David Lesser
    160.......221.........99........(9.5)........David Lesser - Harpers Ferry WV

    Harpers Ferry WV - Boiling Springs PA

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    95.........32.........159.......(6.3)........Harpe rs Ferry - Ed Garvey
    149.......141........156.......(4.1)........Ed Garvey - Crampton Gap (-130 ft.)
    168.......184........152.......(5.0)........Crampt on Gap - Rocky Run
    117........89.........144.......(1.8)........Rocky Run - Dahlgren Backpack Campground
    181.......147........214.......(5.7)........Dahlgr en - Pine Knob
    161.......168........154.......(8.2)........Pine Knob - Ensign Cowell
    220.......188........253.......(4.9)........Ensign Cowell - Devils Racecourse (-170 ft.)
    179.......192........167.......(9.6)........Devils Racecourse - Deer Lick
    158.......267.........50........(2.4)........Deer Lick - Antietam
    92..........0..........183.......(1.2)........Anti etam - Tumbling Run
    160.......146........174......(12.2)........Tumbli ng Run - Quarry Gap
    147.......124........170.......(7.4)........Quarry Gap - Birch Run
    123.......161.........84........(6.2)........Birch Run - Toms Run
    105.......168.........43........(3.7)........Toms Run - Pine Grove Furnace State Park
    125.......133........117.......(7.2)........Pine Grove Furnace - James Frye (Tagg Run)
    190.......183........198.......(8.3)........James Frye - Alec Kennedy
    167.......215........118.......(3.9)........Alec Kennedy - Boiling Springs PA

    Boiling Springs PA - Palmerton PA

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    85..........60........109.......(14.3).......Boili ng Springs - Darlington
    166.......163........168.......(7.3)........Darlin gton - Cove Mtn.
    160.......268.........52........(4.0)........Cove Mtn. - Duncannon PA
    141........61.........222.......(4.6)........Dunca nnon - Clarks Ferry
    132.......126........138.......(6.8)........Clarks Ferry - Peters Mtn.
    142.......146........137......(17.5)........Peters Mtn. - Rausch Gap
    171.......156........186......(13.3)........Rausch Gap - William Penn
    122.......117........127.......(4.1)........Willia m Penn - 501 Shelter
    72..........68.........77.......(15.1).......501 - Eagle's Nest
    136.......205.........67........(8.6)........Eagle 's Nest - Port Clinton PA
    200.......161........239.......(6.1)........Port Clinton - Windsor Furnace
    130.......143........116.......(9.1)........Windso r Furnace - Eckville Shelter
    136........73.........200.......(7.4)........Eckvi lle - Allentown Hiking Club
    102.......110.........94.......(10.0)........Allen town Hiking Club - Bake Oven Knob
    121.......153.........88........(6.8)........Bake Oven Knob - George W. Outerbridge
    356.......667.........44.........(.9).........Oute rbridge - Palmerton (PA 248)

    Palmerton PA - Vernon NJ

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    116........84.........148......(15.8).......Palmer ton - Leroy A. Smith
    139.......191.........87........(4.6)........Leroy A. Smith - Wind Gap (PA 33)
    98.........70.........126........(9.2).......Wind Gap - Kirkridge
    174.......264.........85........(6.6)........Kirkr idge - Delaware Water Gap PA
    165.......118........196.......(10.3).......DWG - Mohican Outdoor Center
    153.......151........155.......(14.3).......Mohica n Outdoor Center - Brink Road
    170.......158........182.......(6.6)........Brink Road Shelter - Gren Anderson
    153.......145........162.......(5.8)........Gren Anderson - Mashipacong
    138.......152........124.......(2.9)........Maship acong - Rutherford
    179.......186........172.......(4.3)........Ruther ford - High Point
    128.......189.........68........(5.3)........High Point - Secret Shelter
    125.......113........138.......(7.1)........Secret Shelter - Pochuck Mtn.
    174.......203........145.......(6.5)........Pochuc k Mtn. - Vernon (NJ 94)

    Vernon NJ - Kent CT

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    213.......143........283.......(5.3)........Vernon - Wawayanda
    169.......175........163......(12.0)........Wawaya nda - Wildcat
    257.......248........267......(14.3)........Wildca t - Fingerboard
    175.......200........151.......(5.3)........Finger board - William Brien
    352.......335........368.......(3.1)........Willia m Brien - West Mtn.
    257.......345........169.......(5.8)........West Mtn. - Bear Mtn. Bridge
    235.......203........267.......(6.3)........Bear Mtn. Bridge - Graymoor Center
    232.......239........225......(16.9)........Graymo or Center - RPH
    221.......167........274.......(9.0)........RPH - Morgan Stewart
    195.......221........170.......(7.6)........Morgan Stewart - Telephone Pioneers
    329.......571.........86.........(.7)........Telep hone Pioneers - Pawling (County 20)
    173.......166........180.......(8.0)........Pawlin g - Wiley
    241.......288........195.......(4.0)........Wiley - Ten Mile River
    242.......219........264.......(8.4)........Ten Mile River - Mt. Algo
    617......1133.......100........(.3).........Mt. Algo - Kent (CT 341)

    Kent CT - Dalton MA

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    200.......197........203.......(7.0)........Kent - Stewart Hollow Brook
    238.......204........271......(10.0)........Stewar t Hollow Brook - Pine Swamp Brook
    181.......172........190......(12.3)........Pine Swamp Brook - Limestone Spring (-330 ft.)
    204.......303........106.......(3.3)........Limest one Spring - Salisbury (US 44)
    176........62.........289.......(4.2)........Salis bury - Riga
    133.......100........167.......(1.2)........Riga - Brassie Brook
    252.......240........265.......(8.8)........Brassi e Brook - Hemlocks, Glen Brook
    184.......197........172......(14.4)........Hemloc ks, Glen Brook - Tom Leonard
    215.......350.........80........(2.0)........Tom Leonard - Great Barrington (MA 23)
    262.......158........367.......(3.3)........Great Barrington - Mt. Wilcox South
    219.......219........122.......(1.8)........Mt. Wilcox South - Mt. Wilcox North (-120 ft.)
    200.......216........184......(14.0)........Mt. Wilcox North - Upper Goose Pond Cabin (-110 ft.)
    197.......182........211.......(8.8)........Upper Goose Pond Cabin - October Mtn.
    120.......123........118.......(8.8)........Octobe r Mtn. - Kay Wood
    237.......353........120.......(3.0)........Kay Wood - Dalton MA

    Dalton MA - Manchester Center VT

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    197.......207........186.......(8.6)........Dalton - Cheshire MA
    220........43.........396.......(5.1)........Chesh ire - Mark Noepel
    261.......297........224.......(6.6)........Mark Noepel - Wilbur Clearing
    347.......620.........73........(3.0)........Wilbu r Clearing - North Adams (MA 2)
    214.......104........325.......(6.9)........North Adams - Seth Warner
    290.......296........285.......(5.2)........Seth Warner - Congdon
    266.......237........295.......(5.9)........Congdo n - Melville Nauheim
    211.......144........278.......(8.5)........Melvil le Nauheim - Goddard
    240.......330........149.......(4.3)........Goddar d - Kid Gore
    185.......183........187.......(4.6)........Kid Gore - Story Spring
    248.......259........236......(10.5)........Story Spring - Stratton Pond
    129.......158........100.......(4.8)........Stratt on Pond - William B. Douglas
    160.......160........160.......(3.0)........Willia m B. Douglas - Spruce Peak
    232.......307........157.......(2.8)........Spruce Peak - Manchester Center (VT 11)

    Manchester Center VT - Hanover NH

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    247.......210........283......(10.1)........Manche ster Center - Peru Peak
    143.......183........102.......(4.7)........Peru Peak - Long Pond
    218.......435..........0........(1.7)........Long Pond - Big Branch
    130........67.........193.......(3.0)........Big Branch - Lula Tye
    29.........29..........29.........(.7)........Lula Tye - Little Rock Pond
    186.......150........223.......(4.4)........Little Rock Pond - Greenwall (-180 ft.)
    316.......373........259.......(5.1)........Greenw all - Minerva Hinchey
    335.......384........286.......(3.7)........Minerv a Hinchey - Clarendon
    166.......118........215.......(6.8)........Claren don - Governor Clement
    267........37.........498.......(4.3)........Gover nor Clement - Cooper Lodge
    168.......256.........80........(2.5)........Coope r Lodge - Pico Camp
    311.......547.........74........(1.9)........Pico Camp - Churchill Scott
    237.......411.........63........(1.9)........Churc hill Scott - Rutland (US 4)
    200........20.........380.......(1.0)........Rutla nd - Tucker Johnson (Long Trail Junction)
    308.......358........258.......(9.0)........Tucker Johnson - Stony Brook
    269.......232........305.......(9.9)........Stony Brook - Wintturi (-160 ft.)
    332.......347........317......(11.6)........Winttu ri - Thistle Hill
    277.......295........259.......(8.8)........Thistl e Hill - Happy Hill
    179.......275.........83........(5.3)........Happy Hill - Hanover NH

    Hanover NH - Franconia Notch NH

    (For most of the AT I don't include tentsites and campsites in this shelter listing, only shelters with a roof, but since the Huts in the White Mountains are expensive and often avoided by hikers, I'm including campsites and tentsites there in the next two sections.)

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    185........10.........360.......(2.0)........Hanov er - Velvet Rocks
    245.......194........297.......(9.5)........Velvet Rocks - Moose Mtn.
    312.......368........256.......(5.7)........Moose Mtn. - Trapper John
    296.......161........430.......(6.7)........Trappe r John - Firewarden's Cabin
    275.......385........166.......(5.3)........Firewa rden's Cabin - Hexacuba (+140 ft.)
    296.......321........271.......(7.3)........Hexacu ba - Ore Hill
    251.......297........205.......(7.4)........Ore Hill - Glencliff (NH 25)
    218........91.........345.......(1.1)........Glenc liff - Jeffers Brook
    391.......238........544.......(6.8)........Jeffer s Brook - Beaver Brook
    336.......391........281.......(9.1)........Beaver Brook - Eliza Brook
    400.......230........570.......(4.0)........Eliza Brook - Kinsman Pond Campsite
    453.......716........189.......(1.9)........Kinsma n Pond - Lonesome Lake Hut
    255.......483.........28........(2.9)........Lones ome Lake - Franconia Notch (US 3)

    Franconia Notch NH - Gorham NH

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    477........15.........938.......(2.6)........Franc onia Notch - Liberty Springs Tentsite
    379.......189........568.......(3.8)........Libert y Springs - Greenleaf Hut (-1040 ft.)
    441.......605........277.......(3.9)........Greenl eaf - Garfield Ridge Campsite
    378.......415........341.......(2.7)........Garfie ld Ridge - Galehead Hut
    386.......243........529.......(2.8)........Galehe ad - Guyout Campsite (-440 ft.)
    338.......571........105.......(4.2)........Guyout - Zealand Falls Hut
    92..........67........117.......(4.8)........Zeala nd Falls - Ethan Pond Campsite
    290.......566.........14........(2.9)........Ethan Pond - Crawford Notch (US 302)
    316.......119........513.......(6.4)........Crawfo rd Notch - Mizpah Spring Hut, Nauman Tentsite
    363.......233........492.......(4.8)........Mizpah Spring - Lake of the Clouds Hut
    450.........0.........900.......(1.4)........Lake of the Clouds - Mt. Washington*
    351.......473........229.......(4.1)........Mt. Washington - The Perch (-980 ft.)
    333.......493........173.......(1.5)........The Perch - Madison Spring Hut, Valley View Tentsite#
    590.......980........200.......(3.0)........Madiso n Spring - Osgood Tentsite
    227.......275........179.......(4.8)........Osgood - Pinkham Notch (NH 16)
    427.......319........536.......(5.9)........Pinkha m Notch - Carter Notch Hut
    407.......417........397.......(7.2)........Carter Notch - Imp Campsite
    366.......521........210.......(6.1)........Imp - Rattle River
    137.......263.........11........(1.9)........Rattl e River - Gorham (US 2)
    * Mt Washington does not have overnight shelter
    # Madison Spring Hut is beside the trail, but Valley View Tentsite is 900 ft. lower in elevation than the trail

    Gorham NH - Stratton ME

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    304.......246........363.......(11.8).......Gorham - Gentian Pond
    394.......296........492........(5.2).......Gentia n Pond - Carlo Col
    407.......423........391........(4.4).......Carlo Col - Full Goose
    359.......322........396........(5.1).......Full Goose - Speck Pond
    404.......461........348........(6.9).......Speck Pond - Baldpate
    500.......554........446........(3.5).......Baldpa te - Frye Notch
    342.......427........258........(4.5).......Frye Notch - Andover (East B-Hill Road)
    248.......153........343........(6.0).......Andove r - Hall Mtn.
    493.......639........346........(4.1).......Hall Mtn. - Andover (South Arm Road)
    343.......264........421........(8.7).......Andove r - Bemis Mtn.
    288.......313........263........(8.3).......Bemis Mtn. - Sabbath Day Pond
    193.......234........151........(9.4).......Sabbat h Day Pond - Rangeley (ME 4)
    167........33.........300........(1.8).......Range ley - Piazza Rock
    360.......312........407........(8.9).......Piazza Rock - Poplar Ridge
    308.......293........323........(8.0).......Poplar Ridge - Spaulding Mtn.
    360.......425........295.......(13.5).......Spauld ing Mtn. - Stratton (ME 27)

    Stratton ME - Monson ME

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    320.......145........494.......(5.1)........Stratt on - Horns Pond
    375.......441........310......(10.2)........Horns Pond - Little Bigelow
    219.......255........184.......(7.3)........Little Bigelow - West Carry Pond
    101.......106.........96.......(10.0).......West Carry Pond - Pierce Pond
    100.......185.........15........(4.0)........Pierc e Pond - Caratunk (US 201)
    139........70.........207.......(5.7)........Carat unk - Pleasant Pond
    248.......251........244.......(9.0)........Pleasa nt Pond - Bald Mtn. Brook
    359.......361........356.......(4.1)........Bald Mtn. Brook - Moxie Bald
    80.........103.........56.......(8.9)........Moxie Bald - Horseshoe Canyon
    158.......136........180.......(9.0)........Horses hoe Canyon - Monson (ME 15)

    Monson ME - Baxter State Park ME

    AVG~~SOBO~~NOBO~~MILES~~~SECTION
    163.......187........140.......(3.0)........Monson - Leeman Brook
    236.......241........232.......(7.4)........Leeman Brook - Wilson Valley
    191.......200........183.......(4.7)........Wilson Valley - Long Pond Stream
    300.......105........495.......(4.0)........Long Pond Stream - Cloud Pond (-100 ft.)
    287.......328........246.......(6.9)........Cloud Pond - Chairback Gap
    197.......202........192.......(9.9)........Chairb ack Gap - Carl A. Newhall
    333.......269........397.......(7.2)........Carl A. Newhall - Logan Brook (-220 ft.)
    242.......456.........28........(3.6)........Logan Brook - East Branch
    173.......193........153.......(8.1)........East Branch - Cooper Brook Falls
    79..........92.........66.......(11.4)........Coop er Brook Falls - Potaywadjo Spring
    33..........42.........23........(4.3)........Pota ywadjo Spring - Whitehouse Landing
    110........97.........124.......(5.8)........White house Landing - Wadleigh Stream
    194.......173........215.......(8.1)........Wadlei gh Stream - Rainbow Stream
    117.......130........104......(11.5)........Rainbo w Stream - Hurd Brook
    120.......137........103.......(3.5)........Hurd Brook - Abol Bridge
    89..........65........113.......(9.9)........Abol Bridge - The Birches
    404.......404........404......(10.4).......Up and Down Katahdin

    (For all of these tables in an Excel spreadsheet, see post #17 in the accompanying thread. Tin Man went to the trouble to convert all of this data into that format. Thank you, Tin Man! In addition, rgarling in post #18 and Hiker Ranky in post #20 show in spreadsheet form how many times and where on the trail NOBO and SOBO hikers had gained elevation the equivalent of going from sea level to the top of Everest!)


    METHODOLOGY

    If a topographic map has a contour interval of 20 feet there will be a line on the map for every 20 feet of elevation change. As the AT climbs a hill it will continue to cross lines and every time it crossed a contour line I would count it as a change in elevation of 20 feet (or 3 meters or 6 meters or 10 feet or 40 feet -- all five of these intervals are used by the USGS on at least one map covering the AT -- I always had to check what the contour interval was as the trail moved from map to map). Now, if the trail only rises 10 feet before falling again, half the time over the long haul it will not cross a contour line, in the 20 foot interval example. But half the time it will cross a line and will be counted as having risen 20 feet. The longer stretch of trail one follows the more these kinds of examples will even out. So in a very short stretch with only a couple minor up and downs the figure obtained this way could be a bit off. So two shelters spaced very close together have more potential to be a little off due to the randomness of whether the AT line happens to cross an elevation line. But over longer stretches this method (counting contour lines crossed) is VERY accurate.

    I took measures to make sure I didn't mis-count. I made a note of the elevation every time the trail crossed a topographic feature like a road or stream or mountain, and then I went back and checked to make sure that my elevation line counts added up. So if I noted an elevation at a mountain top of 2440 feet and after a few ups and downs crossed a stream at 1120 feet, I checked to be sure that my elevation line counts added up to a 1320 foot elevation difference. If the count didn't add up I recounting lines crossed to find out where I made the mistake.

    I wrote this down on tally sheets that looked like this:

    -20
    +20
    -40
    ------Deep Gap (2550 ft.)
    +460
    -20
    +120
    -40
    +220
    ------Owl Mtn. (3290 ft.)
    -300
    +40
    etc.

    When the trail moved to a new USGS map the first thing I did was compare it to the relevant, and almost always more current, ATC map. My job was easier if the two showed the trail in the same place (this was most likely to happen if the USGS had updated the pertinent AT maps for a trail section within the last ten years), but if the trail had changed since the USGS map was created I plotted whatever the new course was. Most of the time the trail follows easily identifiable ridges and other natural features, though sometimes it took more patience to trace a new course when the trail didn't do this. The trail section from Damascus to Pearisburg VA was particularly trying and time consuming because almost the entire trail had changed between the 50s, 60s, or 70s, (when most of these particular USGS editions were printed) and the present.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. attroll's Avatar
      attroll -
      I closed this thread. Reason: promoted to an article. You can view it here https://whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?49.
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