Appalachian Trail Resources

I am working on a book about how to prepare for an AT thru-hike. As you might imagine, I have come across many Appalachian Trail resources in the process. I don’t claim this list is complete, but I believe it is the most comprehensive one online. Regardless of your experience, I’d be surprised if you can’t find something new here to interest you. If you feel I have neglected anything significant, please leave a comment.

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About the Trail

Appalachian Trail Maintaining Clubs

ALDHA maintains a spreadsheet of trail maintaining clubs as well. 

Books

You can find a version of this list on my Amazon reading list. For a handful of other books not listed here, with personal reviews, check out Books for Hikers

Dogs

Facebook Groups

Each year will have at least one thru-hiker class group so search for your year and join (try “Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers Class of 20XX”). 

Other Facebook groups: 

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Food

Gear

There are a TON of blog posts and YouTube videos with various gear reviews, gear lists, etc. I won’t even try to list them here but if I find good general gear overview resources I will add them.

Gear Companies

99Boulders offers a huge list of gear vendors that can be filtered by type of gear, country, or type of company. That list includes many I have never heard of and haven’t listed here, some of which are for countries besides the U.S. Check that out if interested. My list is simply of those companies I saw at least several times in positive references while I was researching my gear. It is far from exhaustive and I am sure I have left out some good brands, but it is a good place to start if you are new and a bit overwhelmed. Some of these are big names found in stores, some are independent but do sell through Amazon, and some are independent and only sell from their own website. In parenthesis, I list what they are most famous for, though they may sell other products as well. 

Gear Weight Tracking Resources

  • GearGrams was, I believe, the first gear weight tracking tool. There is a (paid) iOS app as well. I am not sure, but it seems like GearGrams is no longer being actively maintained, because  the last update on the blog or social media was December 2017. 
  • Lighterpack seems to be the most popular weight tracking tool these days and is open source. It is similar to GearGrams in feel and functionality.
  • Milestepper doesn’t appear to be used by anyone in any of the groups I follow, but I did originally see it listed in the Reddit sub and it looks interesting enough to check out. 
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Guidebooks, Maps and Apps

There are two Appalachian Trail guides used by the vast majority of all thru-hikers: AWOL (paper, PDF) and Guthook (mobile app). I list those below, but there are others that might interest you as well. 

  • ALDHA Thru Hiker’s Companion is the only official ATC guidebook for thru-hikers, section-hikers and day-hikers on the Appalachian Trail. It contains a mountain’s worth of information and data on shelters, water sources, town services, and other hiker-oriented facilities along the trail. The information is compiled and published every year by ALDHA volunteers—many of them long-traveled veterans of the A.T.—with valuable input from the staff of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. It contains up-to-the-minute knowledge of the A.T. from current hikers and trail maintainers and provides essential information on hiker-oriented services on and near the trail.
    Price: A PDF version is included with ALDHA membership ($10) or you can order a print version for $14.95
  • AllTrails is probably the most popular hiking app, providing maps, reviews, and details for over 55,000 hand-curated trails in 102 countries. With the free version, you can search for trails, and view maps both online or offline. Category filters like dog-, kid-, or wheelchair-friendly are easily available, and you can record hiking statistics like total distance, elevation, and moving time.
    Price: AllTrails Pro is available as an annual subscription for USD $29.99/year
  • Appalachian Trail Conservancy Guides and Maps 
  • Appalachian Trail Database (the “ATDB”) is a geographical dictionary collecting trail mileage, position, and elevation for over 500 A.T. Waypoints, including: Trail Shelters, Post Offices, Features, and Hostels. You can use the database as an aid for detailed planning of A.T. section and thru hikes or simply to browse Appalachian Trail features and resources. (NOTE: I believe this was last updated in 2006)
  • Appalachian Trail Data Book consolidates the most basic information from 11 detailed official guide books into a lightweight table of distances between major Appalachian Trail shelters, road-crossings, and features. It is divided according to the guidebook volumes and updated each December to account for Trail relocations, new (or removed) shelters, and other changes. In addition to codes for lodging, food, water, and other essentials, the Data Book is keyed to both the individual guidebook sections and to the separate maps.
    Price: $6.95
  • Appalachian Trail Elevation Profile Map Sets (pocket profile, 0.14 oz. | 4 g each map)
    Price: $80.82 for entire set 
  • Appalachian Trail Mileage Chart by Dwhike | SummitPost
    This is a listing of points of interest along the trail with their NOBO mile number. The information comes from 2009, so it is quite outdated. What makes it still worth consideration is that (1) it is free and (2) there are links to many of the points of interest that provide unique content about them from SummitPost. 
  • Avenza Maps is a mobile app that doesn’t need the Internet to work. Find an official park or topographic map and navigate with only GPS to locate yourself on a map. Record your tracks, estimate travel times, and add placemarks and photos to share with others.
    Price: varies by map provider but the full set of National Geographic maps are $129.99! Probably best to stick with Guthook. 
  • The A.T. Guide (still called AWOL’s Guide but AWOL sold it) is the most popular guidebook on the Appalachian Trail. It has all the info you need for hikes of any length on the A.T., and is especially strong for town information (including maps of the main towns you will pass or come close to along with hostel, restaurant, resupply, and shuttle options for each). It also lists a profile (including elevations) of the entire trail and lists all shelters. There are two versions, NOBO and SOBO, and you can buy hard copy, loose leaf, and PDF versions. For more information, check out Follow Bigfoot’s YouTube review of it.

    AWOL also offers 12, 15 and 18 miles per day plans that you can downloading as Excel spreadsheets (and which I have included in my Appalachian Trail Planning, Resupply & POI Google spreadsheet)
    Price: $15.95 for paper or loose-leaf, $13.45 for PDF.
  • Gaia GPS Smartphone App can replace a standalone GPS device.
    Price: $20 per year (follow Adventure Alan’s link and get 20% off). 
  • Google Maps of Appalachian Trail 
  • Guthook App, along with the AWOL guide, is the major resource used by thru-hikers and it is pretty darned incredible. If you download the maps, it works offline with GPS (which you can toggle on and off while using and which turns off when you close the app or your phone). It also occasionally updates the content whenever you are connected to data (auto update is a setting to toggle). Different icons are used to indicate points of interest (called waypoints, e.g., full, half full, or empty water drop to signify the presence of water and how reliable the source is). You can choose which sections and which types of maps as well as comments and photos to download, so if your phone is memory constricted this can help. There are three types of maps available: topo (three sources to choose from), Google street (street, satellite, terrain, or hybrid), and USGS offline satellite. The Google option will also show useful things off the trail, which is helpful for when you plan to go into town if you won’t have mobile data working. You can also register a free account which will let you add comments, but this is not required. There are so many useful features (e.g., ability to toggle between map view, an elevation profile map, and a list view of all or selected waypoints) that you might want to see online reviews to get a better feel for them. Follow Bigfoot has a useful video review of the Guthook app as does Michael K Davis. Finally, note that both versions are good, but iOS has better features than the Android version.
    Price: The app itself is free but you must pay for the trail contents, either by section (there are nine total) or for slightly less money ($60) you can buy the entire trail as a bundle (recommended). One big plus is that updates are free forever. The approach trail is included for free so you can play with it to see how the app works before you decide to purchase. Note that there is usually one or two significant sales (20-25% off) each year so if you are planning ahead, monitor the FB groups to hear about these sales.
  • Hanover (NH) and Norwich (VT) Appalachian Trail Hiker’s Guide 
  • HikerBot Appalachian Trail is an Android only, open source mobile app made in conjunction with Gossamer Gear. In theory, it has trail, campsite, water, resupply, and other pertinent info. I say “in theory” because I was completely unable to get it to work for my phone and many other reviews complain of the same issue, though some do seem to say it works well, so perhaps it depends on the phone being used? Anyway, it hasn’t been updated since 2018 so I wonder if it is an abandoned project.
    Price: The app and data are free so no harm in giving it a try.
  • National Geographic – Trails Illustrated Appalachian Trail and Wall maps
    Price: 13 A.T. section maps @ $14.95 each or the complete bundle for $149.95; wall map of the entire trail for $16.95.
  • Noam Gal’s offline maps for use with the Backcountry Navigator or OruxMaps apps.
  • Peak Finder is great to identify mountains. It works like binoculars with an overlay of mountain names.
    Price: $4.99
  • Postholer Appalachian Trail Pocket Maps and Trail GPS App
    Price: The Android app and trails is $9.99; there are three paper map volumes – southern A.T. ($32.86), central A.T. ($30.98), and northern A.T. ($32.86)
  • Postholer Wall app is designed to communicate trail information in a very timely manner. Features include: Water Reports (send water reports while you’re standing at the source), Trail Reports (send a trail report so the folks who maintain the trail can respond promptly), and Trail Chatter (find out what your hiking buddies are up to, regardless of their place on the trail).
    NOTE: I am not sure how this is different from their paid Android app.
  • WhiteBlaze Pages is a newer guidebook, around since 2017. It looks to be similar to the ALDHA Companion and the A.T. Guide.
    Price: $10 (PDF $5).
  • Wikitrail.org is a project to create a free, complete, and up-to-date guide for the Appalachian Trail, including a Google map of the trail, a distance calculator, a planning tool, and lists of towns, trailheads, resupply points, and maildrop locations. 

Health

Hiker Reports and Analysis

Below are online summaries or analysis of thru-hikes I have come across. If you know of others, please let me know. 

Hiking or AT-focused Blogs and Websites

  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail
  • HammockForums.net 
  • Hiking for Her 
  • Postholer has forums, a planning tool, two mobile apps (one free, one paid), an interactive Google Maps trail map, and journals about the Appalachian Trail.
  • Reddit Appalachian Trail Subreddit 
  • Reddit Ultralight Subreddit
  • /r/AppalachianTrail FAQ (Google Doc)
  • SectionHiker
  • SummitPost is a collaborative content community focused on climbing, mountaineering, hiking, and other outdoor activities. This site is built by its members, who can:
    (1) Post photos, trip reports, events, logs, and albums.
    (2) Share expertise by submitting how-to articles and informational pages.
    (3) Shape the content of the site by voting on other people’s work. The less valuable submissions get buried, and the good stuff rises to the top.
  • The Hiker Yearbook ($59) is a photographic record of individual Appalachian Trail hikers.
  • The Trek (previously called Appalachian Trials) is a site dedicated to long-distance hiking. Especially useful is the How to Hike the AT 101 Guide, the Appalachian Trail Interactive Map and the various gear lists and surveys
  • Trail Days official website
  • Where Are The Hikers? attempts to predict hiker activity along the Appalachian Trail throughout the year. The visualizations on this site are generated from the locations and dates contained in the Trail Journals entries of Appalachian Trail hikers from 2001-2016. The data is not limited to thru-hikers only; it visualizes all warm bodies on the trail for each day of the year, whether they’re thru, section, or day hikers. 
  • Whiteblaze is a popular forum that has been around for years. The articles section is a good starting point and the search feature can help you find answers to most questions you may have. 

Hostels, Hotels and Shelters

NOTE: I have included lodging options in my Appalachian Trail Resupply & POI spreadsheet.

Insurance

  • Buddy, USAA, and the American Alpine Club (AAC) accident insurance for hiking (only available to US residents) offer supplemental travel insurance that should cover your hike. 
  • Some travel insurance providers like World Nomads offer coverage for “adventure” or “high risk” activities. 
  • The Hike Safe Card ($25 for an individual, $35 for a family) covers search and rescue in The Whites Mountain in NH, one of the more dangerous sections of the trail.
  • SPOT and Garmin emergency GPS devices offer search and rescue (SAR) benefits.

Mail Drop and Resupply Resources

NOTE: I have included resupply options from these sources in my Appalachian Trail Resupply & POI spreadsheet.

USPS? While you probably have heard about USPS Priority Mail shipping for mail drops, Shane O’Donnell has written a detailed tutorial titled USPS Regional Rate Boxes For Hiking Dummies that can often save money compared to Priority Mail if you live on the East Coast. 

Miscellaneous Articles and Resources

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Movies

There are many movies and television programs about the Appalachian Trail. Here are some that either I have seen and enjoyed personally or seen recommended by others. 

On-Trail Tips and Resources

Organizations and Advocacy Groups

Permits

Planning and Preparation Resources

Podcasts

Regulations and Restrictions along the trail 

Retailers and Used Gear

Transportation and Parking Options

The following online sites offer lists of shuttle providers along the trail. 

The A.T. Guide (AWOL) and the A.T. Thru-Hikers’ Companion both include shuttle providers, though they are not an online resource. Likewise, though not listed in any organized fashion, the Guthook App does list some providers, either explicitly or via the comments feature.

Weather Resources

  • AccuWeather is especially useful for its live radar feature.
  • Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trail Weather (atweather.org) (Web and Android only)
    Due to the spotty, slow, and unreliable cell signal in the Appalachian mountains, Pat Jones had a tough time getting weather forecasts with data hungry commercial weather applications. He created Appalachian Trail Weather to use an extremely small amount of data (less than 1kB) in order to pull back a fast, accurate forecast with as little battery drain as possible. Simply enter your current mile location and get the closest 7 shelters to your location. Click on the shelter you wish to get the current and future forecast for that location. Sort by State, or view all shelters in one list.
  • Appalachian Trail Weather (The Appalachian Trail Database)
  • Carrot Weather is a paid service but you can switch between a number of different data sources within the app: AccuWeather, ClimaCell, Foreca, MeteoGroup, Aeris Weather, or WillyWeather.
  • Dark Sky is the most accurate source of hyperlocal weather information: with down-to-the-minute forecasts for your exact location.
    NOTE: It was bought by Apple in early 2020 and will no longer be available for Android by July 2020, and may end up getting integrated into Apple’s native weather app and thus disappearing for good. 
  • Mountain Forecast provides forecasts for more than 11,300 (and growing) major summits for climbers and mountaineers, provided for up to 5 different elevations.
  • Trail weather was created to provide a way of seeing current and future weather conditions along the entire Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail, whereas most existing trail weather sites only provide forecasts for one location at a time. Because of that, the site is very data-heavy and is not recommended for hikers on the trail looking for local weather conditions (it’s better for looking ahead and planning).
  • Weather charts pertaining to average low and high temps, average precipitation, and hours of daylight along the Appalachian Trail, courtesy of Rainmaker and Swinky. 

YouTube Channels and Videos

This isn’t even close to a comprehensive list and I’m sure there are some great ones I am unaware of. But, here are the channels and videos I have enjoyed, found useful or get mentioned often in online groups. A useful tip for channels is to click on the Playlists tab, as the better ones have organized their various videos by theme (e.g., backpacker basics, Appalachian Trail, favorite A.T. towns, etc.). 

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