Hiking is a wonderful, adventurous sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and physical abilities. All over the world, hikers can find a trail, and a suitable terrain, for their own natural ability and fondness. One hiking trail that is well-known around the world is the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, also known as the Appalachian Trail, or is often, quite simply, referred to as the “AT”.
The Appalachian Trail is approximately 2,200 miles long and runs from Mt. Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia. The trail traverses through 14 different eastern states, including; Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. It also runs through multiple national forests and national parks, as well as state parks, forests, and game lands.
Approximately 2.5 million people hike at least some portion of the Appalachian Trail every year, although most people enjoy short one-day hikes or a night or two excursions through a portion of the trail. A much smaller number of hikers actually hike the entire AT, but those people that do hike the whole trail have some interesting and exciting stories to tell. Many people have written books, stories, articles, documentaries, and the like, about their excursions.
Hiking the entire Appalachian Trail usually takes about 6 months, give or take. Hiker Karl Meltzer broke a record in 2016 for hiking the AT in the shortest amount of time. He did it in 46 days. Most people who hike the AT prefer a slower pace, so they can bask in the beautiful scenery and limit the amount of wear and tear on their own body.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail allows the hiker to explore numerous wildlife and exotic plants and terrain variances. Some of the animals that may be spotted throughout the trail include; white-tailed deer, black bears, Eastern cottontail, porcupine, red squirrels, and many others. There are also many beautiful and unique plants that can be found along the trail. Depending on the time of year, you may see mountain laurel, azaleas, rhododendron, tulip trees, dogwood trees, huckleberry plants, daylilies, and so much more. If you are hiking the trail, you may wish to carry a plant-identification book or chart that will enable you to identify various plants along the way. Some of them are even edible!
The length of the Appalachian Trail runs through many different terrain types, as well. Almost the whole trail is mountainous, with terrains that include dirt paths, thick grass lands, rocky barriers, roads, concrete paths, farmland, and creeks. A hiker of the AT should be prepared for all types of terrains, and for all types of weather, too.
Speaking of weather, this should be a serious consideration for anyone who is hiking the entire trail, or even going out for a day-hike on the AT. The majority of hikers who plan to hike the entire AT will begin their trek at the southern tip in Georgia. This is the best place to begin the hike if you plan to leave in the early months of the year, while the weather is still cool, but not too overwhelmingly hot. The goal should be to reach the northern tip of the trail, in Maine, in the early fall, before the snow begins to fall in significant amounts.
Hiking is a very adventurous activity because it is physically challenging and allows the hiker to enjoy the natural environment around them. Any hiker should take proper precautions and become adequately equipped, in order to enjoy the hike in a safe and comfortable manner.
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