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The Appalachian Lodge
The Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountains on a foggy day.

The Appalachian Trail stretches for more than 2,190 miles and offers incredible scenic views along its length. This popular footpath passes through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for 71 of its miles. To help you learn more about the trail, we’ve put together a guide of the top 6 things to know about the Appalachian Trail.

1. It’s the Longest Hiking-Only Trail in the World.

That’s right — the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only trail in the world! The footpath follows the ridge line of the Appalachian Mountains and passes through 8 national forests and 2 national parks. To complete the entire trail, it is said to take about 5 to 7 months. The shortest amount of time anyone has taken to complete the trail is 41 days.

2. The Highest Point Along the Trail is Clingmans Dome.

Clingmans DomeThe highest point along the Appalachian Trail is actually in the Smoky Mountains! The highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingmans Dome, is also the highest point along the Appalachian Trail! It has a height of 6,643 feet, and the trail goes right over the summit of Clingmans Dome, close to the observation tower.

3. About 19,500 Have Completed the Trail.

The full Appalachian Trail was completed in 1937. Since then, about 19,500 people have completed the trail in its entirety. Most people only hike a small section of the path, but there are some determined hikers who want to conquer all 2,000+ miles of the trail.

4. It Crosses Through 14 States.

A sign for the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountains.The Appalachian Trail crosses through 14 states. It stretches from the peak of Springer Mountain in Georgia to the summit of Maine’s Mount Katahdin. It runs through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

5. It takes About 7 Days to Hike the Part That Runs Through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

About 71 miles of the trail runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you want to complete the entire portion in the national park, it would take you about 7 days. It enters the national park at Fontana Dam and exits at Davenport Gap. Highlights along this part of the trail are Clingmans Dome, Charlies Bunion, and Mt. Cammerer.

6. The Idea for the Trail Came from an Article in an Architecture Journal.

man sitting on mountain along appalachian trailDid you know the idea for the Appalachian Trail actually came from an article in an architecture journal? In 1921, an article titled “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning,” was published in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects. In the article, Benton MacKaye, a regional planner from Massachusetts, laid out his vision for a trail that cuts through the eastern United States. He hoped the trail would give people a chance to escape from the city and enjoy nature. Two years later, the first part of the trail opened in New York.

Click here to learn more about the Appalachian Trail, then start planning your trip to the Smoky Mountains for an adventurous hike!