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    Default Questions about shelters along the AT

    What is the average distance between shelters along the AT?. Are they usually crowded?. Are reservations required?. How about a fee?. Do you sleep side by side with other hikers or is there plenty of room to stretch out and have your own space?. Do most of them have water, privy, bear canisters and other ammenities?.

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    Quote Originally Posted by todd52 View Post
    What is the average distance between shelters along the AT?. Are they usually crowded?. Are reservations required?. How about a fee?. Do you sleep side by side with other hikers or is there plenty of room to stretch out and have your own space?. Do most of them have water, privy, bear canisters and other ammenities?.
    don't know the average distance but in georgia alone there's 12 shelters on the AT. they are usually crowded in the spring. too damn many shelters

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    Check out the photo gallery here on White Blaze. There are plenty of pictures of the shelters and the hikers who use them.

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    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Honestly, take a tent. Shelters are noisy, dirty, animal infested.

    Most do have privy and water. But this can vary. Check a updated guidebook for info. No reservations for a specific shelter except if section hiking in the Smokies and for thru hikers using The Birches at Katahdin Stream. Permits for camping required at Smokies and Shenandoah.







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    Mostly it's first come, first served. Water, privy, etc. can all be found in your guidebook. You really need to get one if you haven't already. It will answer most of your questions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket Jones View Post
    Mostly it's first come, first served. Water, privy, etc. can all be found in your guidebook. You really need to get one if you haven't already. It will answer most of your questions.
    +1

    And you can do as suggested ^^^ for additional shelter information.
    Smile, Smile, Smile.... Mile after Mile

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    The shelters average about 7 miles apart. This is an average. Some are closer, some farther apart. It is usually pretty easy to get from one shelter to another in a single day. As you get further into your hike, you may pass 2 or 3 shelters in a given day.

    Yes, the shelters are full during thru hiker season. Shelters typically will sleep about 12-16 hikers. There are some that can sleep as many as 30, other that sleep as few as 6. I think the 6 person shelters are becoming more rare. The hikers are usually packed in like sardines. Each hiker will have approximately 2.5 - 3 ft wide space to use. When the weather is bad, it is not uncommon to exceed the normal capacity of a shelter. In good weather, many thru hikers opt to tent near the shelter.

    I am only aware of reservations being required in the Great Smoky Mtn National Park. The fee for GSMNP is $20 for thruhikers. $4/night for all other backcountry campers. There are fees for using the PATC huts in Shennandoahs and the huts in the Whites.

    Almost all shelters have access to a water source. you may have to walk a ways to get to it, especially during the peak of summer heat.

    Many of the shelters have privies. Some of the maintaining clubs do not build privies because they are labor intensive to maintain. Many of the clubs are going to the mouldering style privy.

    Most shelters have mechanisms for hanging your food. This is most commonly by use of bear cables or bear poles.

    There are no ammenities at the shelters. Shelters are 3 sided structures with 1 or more sleeping platforms inside. Some have tables or benches that can be used to cook. I am aware of 1 shelter in PA that actually has running water, but that is RARE.

    The AT is designed to be somewhat remote and provide a wilderness experience. The shelters are not 5 star accomodateions, but they do provide better shelter from inclement weather than a tent or tarp, if you choose to utilize them.
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    I hope you are not wanting a whole lot from the shelters. They can be real nice wooden loft shelters or real basic concrete bunker type shelters.

    In strictly in the GA/NC/TN/southern VA....
    -It can be about 10-15 miles between shelters; in some areas its about 20 miles.
    -Smokies is the only place in the south that requires permits and reservations...https://smokiespermits.nps.gov/index...PermitTypeID=2. To complicated to get into. But there is a fee for hiking overnight in the park.
    -Water is usually about 0.1-0.5 mile of the shelter. Mind you that some water sources may be a steep climb up or down.
    -Privies can be found at most but not all. Better bring a camping shovel.
    -Some shelters have bear poles, and pack hangers but not all.
    -If you are hiking with the crowd, better bring earbuds. Its going to be lots of snoring and farting in the shelters. Shelters can hold anywhere from 5-8 in the smaller ones. Up to 20 in some of the lofts. Every shelter is different. Most experienced hikers rather tent or hang than stay in shelters as shelters attract bears, mice, and locals.

    As you get north, things change. You have the AMC huts.

    Its better to tent or hang because you can camp almost anywhere along the trail
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    Todd, get the ThruHikers Companion! Most of your mysteries will be revealed to you. You want this on trail guide for planning purposes anyway. Do it! NOW!

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    One real exception to the spacing of the shelters is a 30 mile stretch in NY State. You can stay under the pavillion at Greymoor Monastery which basically serves the same purpose except that it is an open pavillion and on private property, but available to hikers. I don't remember where it splits the distance between shelters, but by the time you get there your conditioning will be such that you shouldn't have a problem. The year I passed through there, a few guys went the full 30 (plus or minus) miles. I opted for the monastery and it was great with a shower, outhouse and picnic tables (and it rained hard so I slept on the concrete floor in the pavillion).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ox97GaMe View Post
    ...Most shelters have mechanisms for hanging your food. This is most commonly by use of bear cables or bear poles. ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Tennessee Viking View Post
    ...-Some shelters have bear poles, ... but not all. ..
    Throughout the entire AT corridor, most shelters do not have anything to keep bears away from food. Georgia and parts of North Carolina have cables, Shenandoah NP has poles, New Jersey has metal bear boxes and there's a few other devices scattered here and there but for large swaths of the AT, you hang from the tree.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbwood5 View Post
    One real exception to the spacing of the shelters is a 30 mile stretch in NY State. You can stay under the pavillion at Greymoor Monastery which basically serves the same purpose except that it is an open pavillion and on private property, but available to hikers. I don't remember where it splits the distance between shelters, but by the time you get there your conditioning will be such that you shouldn't have a problem. The year I passed through there, a few guys went the full 30 (plus or minus) miles. I opted for the monastery and it was great with a shower, outhouse and picnic tables (and it rained hard so I slept on the concrete floor in the pavillion).
    I also stayed at Greymoor pavilion but I tented in the grass next to it because of the mosquitoes.

    Here's some distances in NY:

    West Mountain Shelter to Greymoor - 13 miles
    Greymoor to RPH Shelter - 19 miles (easy hiking - I did it so I know you can)
    RPH to Morgan Stewart Shelter - 9 miles
    Morgan Stewart to Telephone Pioneers Shelter - 8 miles, meaning you can hike RPH to Telephone Pioneers - again, I did so can you.
    Telephone Pioneers to Wiley Shelter - now you're almost in CT

    All of these stats come from The Companion - as Dogwood said, buy it!

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    This map will show you where they are, capacity/water/privy, and a photo (usually).

    http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiki...nteractive-map

    This distance calculator will show you how far apart they are.

    http://www.atdist.com/

    Armed with this information, you should have no trouble avoiding the shelters. Except in G.S.M.N.P. where you are pretty much required to use shelters. If you can get space in them.

    Follow up question for the AT Experienced: When is the AT NOT in season? A friend & I are in the early planning stage of a 30 day trip next year on the AT beginning at Mile 0. I am leaning toward September-October in an attempt to avoid the crowds. Is that time of year a low travel time on the AT?
    Thanks!

    Wayne

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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    ...Follow up question for the AT Experienced: When is the AT NOT in season? A friend & I are in the early planning stage of a 30 day trip next year on the AT beginning at Mile 0. I am leaning toward September-October in an attempt to avoid the crowds. Is that time of year a low travel time on the AT?
    Thanks!

    Wayne
    Where are you going to hike? There are lots of people hiking the AT in September and October in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Shenandoah NP, the Smokies. Other parts are less crowded but you'll see more on weekends.

    For a 30 day hike, how about starting in Damascus on a weekday and see how much of Virginia you can complete?

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    A mile farther than you want to go. Not after the Fall. Generally not. In GSMNP there is a fee for your very existence. Depends on question two. Water and privy yes. Bear boxes sometimes. Not so much.

  16. #16

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    Shelters are actually maintained by the Appalachian Mouse Association (AMA) and are first and foremost there for all of our little mouse friends. Through a mutual agreement with the AMA hikers have been allowed to stay at the shelters. See generally, Journal of AT Mouse http://www.unclerust.com
    Garcia, M., Parapacker, Little Juan

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    Shelter dwellers tend to race ahead to get a spot. They generally have to stop hiking earlier or the spots fill up (peak season). I prefer my tent in bad weather over a shelter.

    I have not camped anywhere near a shelter yet on my first week on the trail. I do take advantage of the privies.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookerhiker View Post
    Where are you going to hike? There are lots of people hiking the AT in September and October in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Shenandoah NP, the Smokies. Other parts are less crowded but you'll see more on weekends.

    For a 30 day hike, how about starting in Damascus on a weekday and see how much of Virginia you can complete?
    My friend aspires to complete the entire AT in sections as time/funds permit. Therefore, he wishes to start at Mile 0 (Springer Mountain, GA) and proceed north.
    I realize that the southern section of the AT in GA-TN-NC is probably the most traveled. I was just curious to know if the hoards thin a little after Labor Day when the kidlets all return to school. To be replaced by Geezers such as myself and my hiking partner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    My friend aspires to complete the entire AT in sections as time/funds permit. Therefore, he wishes to start at Mile 0 (Springer Mountain, GA) and proceed north.
    I realize that the southern section of the AT in GA-TN-NC is probably the most traveled. I was just curious to know if the hoards thin a little after Labor Day when the kidlets all return to school. To be replaced by Geezers such as myself and my hiking partner.
    Yes, I knew you said "Mile 0" but if relative solitude was more important, I thought I'd offer an alternative.

    Starting at Springer, I don't think weekdays will be too crowded but you'll meet people. And the Smokies will likely have full shelters. If you're not aware, the Smokies now have a fee but as a thruhiker, you don't need reservations (unless that's also changed.)

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    The whole G.S.M.N.P. permit thing seems like a pain. I mean, you have to make reservations, pay a fee, get a permit/license in advance and then what happens if the shelters are all full (but yet you are required to stay in them)?. Are you supposed to wait another year and then try again hoping some vacancies will be open?. What if I want to tent instead to avoid snoring, other things?.

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