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

So, you decided to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) – great news! If you have decided to hike the AT, then you already know this is a 2,200-mile adventure over 14 states which takes most people around six months to complete. However, getting to the start of the Appalachian Trail is not very easy. We put together this guide to help you get started without the stress.

Table of Contents:

  • When will you start your hike and from where?

  • What will be your start date?

  • How do you travel by plane with your hiking equipment?

  • How do you travel to the starting line and get last-minute equipment (i.e., fuel)?

  • What can you expect at the Visitor Center?

  • Where should you stay the night before starting the AT?

  • How to get to the AT trailhead start line at Springer Mountain, GA?

The above were some of the questions we had, but don’t worry, we are here to help. We know the AT trail is hard enough to hike. Hopefully, this blog post will make your journey smoother.

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.

Here is an overview of the series:

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! 

**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.


Let’s get started!

When will you start your hike and from where?

Once you have decided to walk the AT, the first thing you need to do is decide which direction you are going and the timing of your trip. Here are some of the ways to hike the AT:

  • NOBO or northbound, where you start in Georgia and hike to Maine

  • SOBO or southbound, where you start in Maine and hike to Georgia

  • Flip/flop, where you strategically decide the areas you want to hike based on weather, bugs, and the number of people