4 Things You Need to Know Before Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Are you interested in hiking on the Appalachian Trail? Maybe you watched the movie A Walk in the Woods, read “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk,” seen images online, or just noticed a trail sign during a trip to the Smokies. Regardless of how you’ve heard of the A.T. there are a few things you should know before hiking on the trail for the first time. Here are a few helpful tips and some fun facts to make your Appalachian Trail adventure a bit more interesting!
1. The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, is usually just called the A.T or the Appalachian Trail. It’s the world’s longest hiking-only trail and runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. The idea of creating the path was thought up by a man named Benton MacKaye in 1921. Mackaye was a forester, planner and conservationist that worked for organizations that included the U.S. Department of Labor, Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Forest Service. When he envisioned what the A.T. would become he hoped that it would be a way to not only preserve the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains that it touched, but that it would also be used to fulfill the human need to connect with nature and be a place of recreation. Benton MacKaye’s dream was completed in 1937 when the trail that is over 2,100 miles was finished. Almost 100 years later countless find themselves on the A.T. each year, with many hikers claiming that the trail has forever changed their life.
2. The AT and The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
When the visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you’ll have the opportunity to hike on the Appalachian Trail. Approximately 72 miles of the A.T runs through the park from Fontana Dam to Davenport Gap. Clingmans Dome is not only the highest point in the park but it’s only the highest point along the entire Appalachian Trail. The Clingmans area is a great opportunity to hike on the trail and get a taste of the beauty of the Spruce Fir Forest or check out an A.T. shelter. One of the most popular hikes in the Smoky Mountains for those seeking to chase the white blazes that guide the way, is the hike from Newfound Gap to Charlies Bunion. A trek to Mount Cammerer or Rocky Top will also place you along the trail. The next time you’re in the Smokies, spend a day or even a week exploring America’s most loved footpath!
3. Arrive Prepared
Your adventure on the A.T. begins long before you step onto the trail. It’s very important that you arrive prepared on the day of your hike. Doing a bit of research on the section of trail that you want to explore, purchasing a map and putting together the right clothing and gear plays a huge part in how much you enjoy your time on not just the Appalachian Trail, but any trail. When checking the forecast it’s important to check for the specific location that you’ll be hiking to as well as the area where you’ll be starting the day. Clingmans Dome is often 20 degrees cooler than Gatlinburg and though the sun may be out in the lower elevations of the park, it can very easily be windy and rainy up top. Exposure is the biggest threat to your safety in the mountains, so always be prepared for not only the current weather but any possible weather than may move in as well. Be mindful of your choice for footwear, the lack of cell service in the park, the possible need for a light if you’re running behind on getting off the trail and the importance of staying hydrated. If you have any questions concerning safety, the daily weather forecast, trail conditions, and needed gear then stop by the NOC Gatlinburg or Sugarlands Visitor Center and staff will be happy to assist you. Concerned about bears? Pull up BearWise tips before your trip for great information on interacting with bears both in town and on the trail.
4. Our Hotel and the Appalachian Trail
If you’re just learning about the A.T. or even if you’ve already thru-hiked the trail, you’ll love staying at our Gatlinburg hotel. Our property was designed in a way that focuses on the history of the Appalachian Trail, the pioneers of the trail, life on the trail, photographs of the beauty that you’ll see along the way and much more. In our lobby and hallways you’ll find maps, drawings, stories and photographs displayed. All of Our Guest Rooms are named after a shelter that hikers call their home away from home as their way from one destination to the next. Our onsite market has some really wonderful books and gifts that you can purchase for yourself or to inspire a loved one. Your purchases and your stay with us also help to support the trail and the efforts of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Click Here to learn more about why we built The Appy Lodge.
Are you ready to start planning your adventures in the Smokies and on the Appalachian Trail? We would love to be your Gatlinburg basecamp for fun in the mountains as well at some of the best attractions in the country! Not only will you find great spots like Anakeesta, Gatlinburg SkyPark, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Dollywood a short drive from our hotel, but we’re also minutes away from countless top-rated restaurants and great local shops as well! Book A Stay Today!