My Dream Hikes: The Appalachian Trail

When it comes to my involvement here at LiveOutdoors, my articles aim to help my fellow outdoorsmen better achieve their dreams when enjoying the outdoors. By providing tips, how-to’s, reviews, and even recipes, my hope is that each little bit of extra knowledge helps in some way. While I have hiked in many places—the Bruce Peninsula, the sand dunes of Lake Michigan, and Honduras—I still enjoy challenging myself and yearn to see as much of this world while I can. For this reason, I wanted to take some time today—and in future months—to shed some light on a few of my own outdoor aspirations in a new series called My Dream Hikes, starting with one near the top of my list: the mighty Appalachian Trail.

If you’re looking for a long trip away from everyday life, the Appalachian Trail is the answer. Spanning more than 2,000 miles and weaving through fourteen states, the AT will require you to cash in your vacation time, clear your schedule for several weeks, and bring you’re A-Game before even setting foot on the trail. While millions visit the trail each year, only a few thousand attempt the thru-hike from Georgia to Maine; a trip that takes roughly six months to complete.

I’ve yet to reach a point in my life where I can afford to take the necessary time from my daily obligations to tackle the AT, but the opportunity to tackle a few legs of the trail is definitely looming on the horizon. What attracts me to the AT is its legendary status, as well as the history associated with the millions who’ve set foot on its paths before me. In fact, it is those millions who have given the many, many trail legs their adopted names and add to the trail’s character.

Though the AT’s full length stretches across the country, it has many access points along the way for day and weekend hikers to get their fix. Taking on the AT is no easy task, however, as the continual change in elevation (equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest 16 times), along with the challenging terrain, burns nearly 6,000 calories a day. Because of this, hikers are encouraged to bring foods high in calories, but low in water weight.

The AT has such a long-cemented history and majestic status among the outdoor community that it has been the subject of numerous books and documentaries throughout the years. Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods (which I highly recommend for any outdoorsman), documents the author’s own visits to the trail and discusses the history, ecology, and the people he meets along the way. Furthermore, National Geographic made a film on the AT entitled America’s Wild Spaces: The Appalachian Trail that is sure to interest anyone considering the AT.

I know for sure that I’m not the only one who’s dreamed of leaving footprints along the Appalachian Trail, but I promise I will feel its earth beneath my feet one day soon. Until then, it remains near the top of my list as one of my Dream Hikes. Be sure to be on the lookout next month for my next Dream Hike, the Australian Outback.