The Appalachian Trail is a behemoth of an adventure. With more than 2,000 miles (or 5 million steps) of wilderness between Maine and Georgia to tackle, many “thru-hikers” plan for this challenge months in advance. Considering that the optimal starting month for South-North hikers is March, now might the time to start planning your conquest of the epic AT.
The first thing you need to figure out is how much time this trip will take you. Depending on your skill level, this trek can require 6 months to complete. And you will need to purchase food along the way as well new equipment that will keep you safe and dry in any climate (well, not Arctic, but it wouldn’t hurt). As you will be passing through 14 states and quite a few national parks, there are also permits to obtain (including a few that cost money). Put simply, if you wait until February to plan this, the logistics alone might overwhelm you.
Fortunately there is this excellent 6-chapter AT guide that travel writer Kathryn Wilde put together for HikeandCycle.com. Below are infographics covering all the basics, including a map of the trail, FAQs, and a prep checklist. Safe travels!