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  1. #1
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    Default Want to hike AT, BUT prefer more wilderness experience

    I was planning on hiking the AT in 2011, and I still may. However, I was wondering if there was an alternative route that would avoid skyline drive and other areas that are less wild. I want to start in the south.

    Are there any suggestions for alternatives that might utilize the best parts of the AT, but will give me more wilderness experiences in other areas.

    Perhaps this is in the wrong thread, and I apologize, but thought this would be a good place to start. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    You might help us help you by clarifying what kind of experience you seek.

    If you wish a more solitary experience, your answer may be more a matter of when than where.
    Consider the advantages of alternative itineraries.
    Last edited by emerald; 11-10-2010 at 01:47.

  3. #3
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  4. #4

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    aquablaze! live it love it learn it. its hard to see your perspective cause the shennies are the single most beautifull place on earth to me. but then i like to road walk there. if you wanna bushwack parelell to the trail it wouldnt work. try the trail and judge how much of a wild place it is for yourself. you can allways enjoy the level of wilderness we do have to its fullest. im just sayin if like you had to sleep in a crowded shelter you might imagine its crowded cause the wilderness is so terribly deep and scary and monsters abound and the boogieman hangs out there and stuff. then maby it will at least be fun a little for ya!i think its plenty plenty wild. even on the roadwalk. i know i would be a wildman if i had to live their in the woods with my fur and fangs only.try it, youll like it!

  5. #5
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    +1 CDT, or hike the PCT going south, you will see no one and it will be a great wilderness experience

  6. #6

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    There are places along the AT that are less wild the Shenandoah, although they may not be as obvious. I would say that aside from the crowds, Shenandoah is jus tas wild as any other place along the trail. If you are wanting to avoid places like Skyline Drive, then you might consider another trail. Another option that some people take is to aquablaze around them utilizing the Shenandoah River. But give the Shennies a shot, you might find more wilderness then you expect.
    "Take another road to another place,disappear without a trace..." --Jimmy Buffet

  7. #7

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    Since you still want to hike in the general AT corridor, then noncontiguoustrails like the PCT and CDT are out. While there's no true "wilderness" in the east, there are hundreds if not thousands of miles of trails where you'll see a minor fraction of the people and vehicles encountered on the AT. Here are some suggestions which could be incorporated into your AT hike.

    1. Benton MacKaye Trail - I know very little about this trail except (a) it parallels and intersects the AT from Georgia past the Smokies (b) it's a wilderness trail with no shelters and (c) much less hikers are found on it. You can find a thread on WB.

    2. Tuscarora Trail - while you won't avoid most of Skyline Drive, you'll begin the Tuscarora in the North District of Shenandoah NP at Mathews Arm campground and hike a 260 mile bypass to rejoin the AT just south of Duncannon where you can rejoin civilization at the Doyle. From Mathews Arm, the Tuscarora descends west off the Blue Ridge, crosses the Shenandoah River, ascends the Massanuten ridge, continues west to Great North Mountain and heads northwesterly through West Virginia, Maryland, and into PA where it follows a ridge to rejoin the AT. The maintenance may not be up to AT standards notwithstanding the PATC's best efforts and you won't find the same level of trail services but after all, that's what you're looking for.

    3. If you can arrange shuttles or long hitches, you could leave the AT on the Allegheny Trail atop Peters Mountain north of Pearsiburg, hike 21 miles to where it temporarily ends, obtain a shuttle to where it resumes at I-64, and hike either to its northern terminus on the WV/PA border or any interim point e.g. Blackwater Falls, WV. You then need a shuttle to pick up the Tuscarora - perhaps in Maryland - and continue on it to where it rejoins the AT.

    4. And then there's the Long Path along the west side of the Hudson. You'd avoid CT and much of MA. You'll also need a shuttle or hitch to reconnect with the AT. Despite its proximity to populations centers, I understand it's not that crowded.

  8. #8
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookerhiker View Post

    1. Benton MacKaye Trail - I know very little about this trail except (a) it parallels and intersects the AT from Georgia past the Smokies (b) it's a wilderness trail with no shelters and (c) much less hikers are found on it. You can find a thread on WB.
    If you want a southern Apps hiking experience, it is a great little trail. Very remote feeling and definitely off the beaten path.

    http://www.pmags.com/return-to-the-h...mt-impressions

    Hooks on the AT again for the last time (NoBo) just outside of the Smokey Mountains.

    I love the idea of CookerHiker's alternate Appalachian Trail corridor hike...hmmm..
    Last edited by Mags; 11-10-2010 at 10:28.
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  9. #9
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    The south is a pretty fair wilderness experience, from GA through TN. Not many road crossings, towns etc. There are certain sections that have other hikers, like the Smokies. Then jump to southern Maine and head north.
    I'd also consider a SOBO hike. I found it much more wilderness, even in more road and town areas, just because I was alone a lot and there wasn't the mass of NOBOs and others out. Of course that was after Sept.
    Last edited by Blissful; 11-10-2010 at 10:52.







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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookerhiker View Post
    While there's no true "wilderness" in the east, there are hundreds if not thousands of miles of trails where you'll see a minor fraction of the people and vehicles encountered on the AT.
    If I may ask Bill a question without derailing the thread, I would like to know how he defines true "wilderness" since I have only the vaguest notion what he may mean.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by emerald View Post
    If I may ask Bill a question without derailing the thread, I would like to know how he defines true "wilderness" since I have only the vaguest notion what he may mean.
    I don't want to derail the thread either nor wax poetic on the different philosophies of "wilderness" including but not limited to the Wilderness Act of 1964 which fixed a legal definition. Having recently spent 2 months in Alaska, I've gotten a pretty good look at "wilderness" - vast swaths of land, much of it virgin unimpacted by industrial man where one could tramp or paddle or dog-sled days without seeing human signs.

    My statement regarding the East was based on considerations such as 99% of the forests where we hike in the East - AT or nonAT - is second or third generation growth devoid of the huge trees and many wild animal species native to the area that are no more - wolves, bison to name a few. That in hiking even the more remote trails such as the ones I cited plus others in National Forests (the largest landholdings with any potential wilderness in the East), one will not go far without a road crossing if not settlements. That even when in an area that feels isolated, light pollution is apparent after the sun goes down, especially in this time of year when denuded trees provide daytime views that likely show evidence of human habitation while night lights become highly visible.

    It's all relative - there are areas of the East comparatively untrod vis-a-vis the AT but none of it's wilderness like we see in the West.

  12. #12

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    I don't think anyone has hiked the Great Eastern Trail yet. Not totally wilderness as it isn't complete, but Would be a fine accomplishment. Similar to what Earl did in the 40's
    "Take another road to another place,disappear without a trace..." --Jimmy Buffet

  13. #13
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    Talk to this fellow http://hikinghq.net/
    There's another way to hike it.

  14. #14
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    Default Rhetorical questions

    Does a tree falling in the forest make a sound when no one is there to hear it?

    The hand of man is everywhere. While we can imagine a world without man, we cannot experience it. Is a wilderness experience even possible in the strictest sense, and, if so, what's the point?

    When someone is alone and as one with the natural world and all it has to offer, what does it matter whether the nearest human habitation, highway or factory is 1 mile or 100 miles away?
    Last edited by emerald; 11-13-2010 at 13:39.

  15. #15
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    Default Am a section hiker and love the trail, started at springer last march with a friend

    Quote Originally Posted by neversink View Post
    I was planning on hiking the AT in 2011, and I still may. However, I was wondering if there was an alternative route that would avoid skyline drive and other areas that are less wild. I want to start in the south.

    Are there any suggestions for alternatives that might utilize the best parts of the AT, but will give me more wilderness experiences in other areas.

    Perhaps this is in the wrong thread, and I apologize, but thought this would be a good place to start. Thanks.
    Start at springer, and head for Natahala, great two week hike, 140 miles and will really get you used to the trail.

  16. #16
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    Hey, start at springer and head north. Weather will hold until december usually. great experience and then you can decide if you will section hike or thru hike. I am on the leg from Natahala to fontana dam here in north carolina.

  17. #17
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    Default The Journals of Lewis and Clark

    Every American should read The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Bernard DeVoto. Be forewarned, they do encounter other human beings and traces.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by restless View Post
    I don't think anyone has hiked the Great Eastern Trail yet. Not totally wilderness as it isn't complete, but Would be a fine accomplishment. Similar to what Earl did in the 40's
    The GET is defined north of I-64 (actually north of around Pearisburg, but for the disjuncture in Allegheny Trail just south of I-64), folks have sectioned all parts of the GET north of I-64 but no one is known to have gone all the way through at once yet.

    From the GET's northern terminus at the North Country/Finger Lakes Trail there are several possibilities to get back on the A.T. from High Point NJ to Rutland VT.

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