The Appalachian Trail spans 2,180 miles from Springer Mountain, Ga. to Katahdin, Maine. The terrain along the AT ranges from easy hiking to extremely difficult.
About 550 miles of the Appalachian Trail are located in Virginia. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs parallel to 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, with easy access for short day hikes.
The Central Virginia section of the AT spans over 200 miles, from the southern end of Shenandoah National Park south to Pearisburg.
The Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club maintains 90 miles of the trail in Nelson, Amherst, Rockbridge, Botetourt and Bedford counties, from the Tye River to Black Horse Gap.
Members enjoy fellowship as they participate in work outings along the trail. As spring begins, new members area always welcome.
Whether you hike solo, with a friend or as part of a group, there are some basics you should know before hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
You can purchase guidebooks and maps to the AT at outdoor stores or access maps online. It's important to know where you are on the trail and a map and compass are essential.
You don't need a permit to enjoy hiking along the AT and camping is free on a first come, first served basis at the lean-to shelters along the trail.
Bikes and horses are not permitted on the trail, but you can bring your dog along. Hikers are asked to follow the Leave No Trace practice on the trail.
It's important to bring along adequate water and food and to dress in layers, wearing or bringing rain gear and a hat in your backpack.
Cotton clothing won't keep you as warm and dry as synthetic fabrics, which are made to breathe. Good hiking boots are also essential.
Sunscreen, sunglasses, a whistle and a first aid kit are also recommended for hikers by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. You'll find more information about the trail and preparing for hiking at the ATC website.
Follow the blazes of white on the trees, rocks and posts along the Appalachian Trail. Double blazes signal a turn, route change or upcoming side trail.
Spring is a great time to enjoy hiking and the Appalachian Trail is among America's favorite hiking trails. Plan now to make use of the extra hour of daylight with a hike.