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Hiking the Appalachian Trail: 10 Logistical Ideas to Help You Plan

Because there are many variables when going on such a long journey, we wanted to provide some lessons we learned. Here are ten considerations to help you plan your Appalachian Trail hike.

Table of Contents

1. Getting Off the Trail to Do Chores

2. Hotels and Hostels

3. Resupplying

4. Eating on the Appalachian Trail

5. Transportation

6. Exercise and Stretching

7. Going to the Bathroom on the Trail

8. Bears, Bears, Bears…

9. Bugs, Bugs, Bugs…

10. Special Notice for Hiking in Pennsylvania

**This post contains affiliate links and On the Move with Liza and Stephen will be compensated if you purchase after clicking on our links, with no cost to you.



Sign from Maine to Georgia


First, here is an overview of the series we wrote on the Appalachian Trail. Hopefully, this will be helpful for your adventure.We completed our northbound thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2022 and it was one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of our lives. The difficulty is not only from the number of miles but also the terrain, obstacles, steep ups and downs – and the weather! We started the AT on April 13, 2022 and finished on October 6, 2022. We put this Appalachian Trail series together to get you from the start to the finish successfully.

Appalachian Trail Hiking: The Ultimate Guide to Starting the Appalachian Trail

For more information on how to get to the AT and when to go.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail: 10 Logistical Ideas to Help You Plan

This article will provide insights on how to make your adventure easier.

Weather on the Appalachian Trail: 10 Things to Prepare You For Your Thru-Hike

This one is essential, especially when choosing when to summit.

The Most Essential Weather Gear to Wear on the Appalachian Trail

Your gear could be the difference between completing the trail and not!

Performance Gear Essentials for the Appalachian Trail

An overview of clothes to wear.

What You Should Expect to Spend on an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike

How to budget for the Appalachian Trail and how much money we spent on our thru-hike.

How to Finish the Appalachian Trail Without Breaking a Sweat

For help getting back home. We wish you the best of luck on your journey! 



1. Getting Off the Trail to Do Chores


Chores off the trail can be broken down into three parts: getting to the hotel/hostel, doing laundry, and resupplying food. Our goal was to simplify these tasks to make completing them as efficient as possible so we could spend more time resting.


However, a little honesty first: We never went into town, resupplied, and then left. If we went into town, we stayed overnight. The pull of a shower and a bed was too strong. Similarly, we never took a zero (no hiking miles) on the trail. If I’m on the trail, I’m going to hike. Finally, we tried to limit our zeros at hotels, although sometimes you just need it and that is okay. We decided it was better for us to do a nero (some hiker miles) of around 5-8 miles the day we were going into town and then leave the next morning.


2. Hotels and Hostels


Deciding when to go into town is based on food. We planned the amount of food on where we were going to stay next. This does not leave room for error because if we did not hit our mile deadlines, we could run out of food, although we never did. When staying at a hotel, we look for our ability to do laundry and resupply in the same location. A bonus was if the hotel included a free breakfast. Another bonus was if the town had a restaurant (and a place to get a beer), too. Quality Inns are a good option for this reason. Don’t forget to inquire about a thru-hiking discount. We found most places offered one. Another option is staying at a bed and breakfast. Some establishments offer a free shuttle to/from trail and also to resupply.


3. Resupplying


Food is one of the biggest logistical problems on the trail. You will be able to purchase food at gas stations, supermarkets, Dollar General stores, and Walmart, but choices may be limited. Depending on the location, you may have all these options or only one. Unfortunately, there will be times when the stores are not close, so you will need to hitchhike, take a shuttle or bus, walk, or take a taxi. We typically bought and carried between 4-7 days of food. The first day back on trail is always the worst because your hiking bag is the heaviest, but this is life on the trail.


Another idea is to have food sent to the hostel/hotel. We ordered from Amazon and Walmart for our supplies to reduce costs, reduce our chores, and ensure we got the food we wanted. To do this, reserve the next place and make sure it allows a mail drop. Instacart may be another resource, but we never tried this option. Because the Appalachian Trail is in rural areas, this may not be possible.


4. Eating on the Appalachian Trail


Here is what we ate on the AT and how we were able to get mostly everything mailed. We are creatures of habit with our food, so repeating was not an issue. We wanted the right food nutritionally and this is how we did it.

  • Protein bars and protein powder were our friends, but they are heavy. You are working out all day, every day, so we wanted protein to reduce hunger and build muscle. I ate two protein bars every day. Personally, I like Cliff Builders protein bars and Liza likes Power Crunch Bars.

  • Dehydrated meals are a good option. We liked Peak Performance and Mountain House Pro to ensure we were getting our protein and calories. We split these dinners every night. Sometimes if we needed extra calories, we would add a packet of chicken.

  • Oatmeal is a great breakfast. We bought the protein version and mixed in peanut butter and protein powder. We prepared this the night before as a cold soak using water.

  • Trail mix was my go-to snack and I never tired of it; unfortunately, this is heavy and does not come in small bags. I would purchase a large bag and just carry it. Liza liked to eat dried fruit like banana chips and coconut

  • Lunch was variety of anything we could find to eat and enjoy. Typically, we ate a chicken or fish package with mayonnaise on a wrap with cheese, or a peanut butter sandwich with honey. We would also have packets of cracker sandwiches like Lance’s Captain’s Wafers.

  • If we didn’t have access to power bars, we would supplement with Snickers bars. But to be honest, we actually preferred power bars.

Bonus: When you go into town, pack out a sandwich the next day for lunch. Our bellies smiled whenever we did this!


5. Transportation