SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – November 2008

American Classic: Hiking the Appalachian Trail

In this ultimate guide to the country's favorite footpath, you'll find our picks for the best hiking and camping, and a complete plan for thru-hikers. Plus, meet a man who has made it his job to help AT hikers.

by: Michael Lanza

Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area, VA (Jeff Zimmerman)
Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area, VA (Jeff Zimmerman)
Great Smoky Mountains (Kevin Adams)
Great Smoky Mountains (Kevin Adams)
Near Maine's Grafton Notch (Tim Seaver)
Near Maine's Grafton Notch (Tim Seaver)

GET FIT
Start in shape, and you're more likely to enjoy–and finish–your thru-hike.

THE PROGRAM
Don't let anyone tell you to "just hike yourself into shape." While it's true that you'll inevitably gain trail fitness, that only applies if you don't quit. A recent study of AT thru-hikers confirmed that people who start with a better fitness level (measured by VO2 max), lower body-fat percentage, and lower weight overall are more likely to be successful. So increase your odds of finishing, decrease your risk of injury, and enjoy that first month much more by starting this training plan three months before your hike.

Strength
Two to three times per week, do muscle-building exercises that incorporate your core. Examples:
1) Push-ups: Perform them while resting your legs on an exercise ball.
2) Lunges: While holding a weight or medicine ball, twist your torso to the side of the forward leg, then return to starting position and repeat.
3) Step-ups: Hold 10-pound dumbbells and pump both arms up and forward with each step.
4) Bicycle crunches: These are great for building core strength. Do them slowly, with good form (back flat, navel in, neck straight).
5) Supermans: Lie on your stomach on an exercise ball; lift and extend opposing arms and legs, pause, then switch and repeat.

Prepare your feet
1) Strengthen ankles by using a balance board at least twice a week.
2) Condition soles by wearing lightweight shoes on long dayhikes.
3) Apply tincture of benzoin or soak feet in strong, brewed tea. Both toughen skin. Treat feet daily, starting a few weeks before your hike.

Trail Fitness
Do regular aerobic workouts like running or cycling, but remember that nothing prepares you to hike all day like ... hiking all day. Once a week, get in a five-plus-hour hike with a pack load equal to your AT weight. Go on at least one 30-mile shakedown backpacking trip.

Hiker to Hiker
Fuel up: "Have an electrolyte drink daily, regardless of weather. Several are available at grocery stores: Replenish, Crystal Light to Go [some varieties], and Gatorade, among others."–Tom "Evil Eye" Tanner, Lawrence, KN, 2007 AT thru-hiker




Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: Star Star Star Star Star

READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
mcm
Mar 27, 2014

http://www.burbagssale2013.com/ Burberry Outlet
http://www.cheaphollistersale.co.uk/ Cheap Hollister Clothes
http://www.coach-blackfriday.com/ Coach Black Friday
http://www.coach-blackfriday2013.com/ Coach Black Friday 2013
http://www.coach-cybermonday.com/ Coach Cyber Monday
http://www.coach-factoryy.com/ Coach Factory
http://www.coach-outletfactory.com/ Coach Outlet Factory
http://www.coach-outletusa.com/ Coach Outlet USA
http://www.coach-pursesfactory.com/ Coach Purses Factory
http://www.coachpurseusa.com/ Coach Purses USA
http://www.coach-storeoutlet.com/ Coach Store Outlet
http://www.coachxpursesonsale.com/ Coach Purses On Sale
http://www.discountbeatsbydresale.com/ Monster Beats Outlet
http://www.louis-vuittonblackfriday.com/ Louis Vuitton Outlet
http://www.lv-guccishoesfactory.com/ Louis Vuitton Factory
http://www.marcjacobsonsale.com/ Marc Jacobs On Sale
http://www.mcmblackfriday.com/ MCM Outlet
http://www.mcmoutlet-jp.com/ MCM
http://www.michaelkors.so/ Michael Kors Outlet
http://www.michael-korsfactorystore.com/ Michael Kors Factory
http://www.michaelkorsoutletr.com/ Michael Kors Outlet
http://www.michaellkorsfactoryonline.com/ Michael Kors Factory Online
http://www.newcoachfactory.com/ Coach Factory Outlet
http://www.north-faceoutletonlines.net/ North Face Outlet Online
http://www.polo-outletstore.com/ Polo Outlet Store
http://www.ralphlaurenuker.com/ Ralph Lauren UK
http://www.saclongchamppairs.com/ Sac Longchamp Pairs
http://www.tcoachoutletonline.com/ Coach Outlet Online
http://www.the-coachfactoryoutlet.com/ Coach Factory Oultet
http://www.uggaustralia.cc/ Ugg Australia
http://www.barbour-jacketsoutlet.com/ Barbour Jackets Outlet Online
http://www.canada-gooser.com/ Canada Goose Outlet
http://www.guccishoes-factorys.com/ Gucci Outlet Online
http://www.michaelkorstates.com/ Michael Kors Outlet
http://www.moncler-clearance.com/ Moncler Clearance
http://www.moncler-jacketsoutletonline.com/ Moncler Jackets Outlet Online
http://www.northsclearance.com/ North Clearace Outlet
http://www.ralphxlaurenpolos.com/ Polo Ralph Lauren Outlet Online
http://www.woolrich-clearance.com/ Woolrich Clearance
http://www.cvshopfactory.com/ shop.coachfactory.com
http://www.mksfactoryoutlet.com/ Michael Kors Factory Outlet
http://www.zxcoachoutlet.com/ Coach Outlet Online USA
http://www.mischristmas.com/ Coach Factory Outlet Online
http://www.misblackfriday.com/ Black Friday
http://www.newoutletonlinemall.com/ Coach Purses Outlet Online
http://www.clickmichaelkors.com/ Michael Kors USA
http://www.cmichaelkorsoutlet.com/ Michael Kors Outlet USA
http://www.ralphlaurenepolo.com/ Ralph Lauren Polo

Star Star Star Star Star
mcm
Mar 27, 2014

http://www.burbagssale2013.com/ Burberry Outlet
http://www.cheaphollistersale.co.uk/ Cheap Hollister Clothes
http://www.coach-blackfriday.com/ Coach Black Friday
http://www.coach-blackfriday2013.com/ Coach Black Friday 2013
http://www.coach-cybermonday.com/ Coach Cyber Monday
http://www.coach-factoryy.com/ Coach Factory
http://www.coach-outletfactory.com/ Coach Outlet Factory
http://www.coach-outletusa.com/ Coach Outlet USA
http://www.coach-pursesfactory.com/ Coach Purses Factory
http://www.coachpurseusa.com/ Coach Purses USA
http://www.coach-storeoutlet.com/ Coach Store Outlet
http://www.coachxpursesonsale.com/ Coach Purses On Sale
http://www.discountbeatsbydresale.com/ Monster Beats Outlet
http://www.louis-vuittonblackfriday.com/ Louis Vuitton Outlet
http://www.lv-guccishoesfactory.com/ Louis Vuitton Factory
http://www.marcjacobsonsale.com/ Marc Jacobs On Sale
http://www.mcmblackfriday.com/ MCM Outlet
http://www.mcmoutlet-jp.com/ MCM
http://www.michaelkors.so/ Michael Kors Outlet
http://www.michael-korsfactorystore.com/ Michael Kors Factory
http://www.michaelkorsoutletr.com/ Michael Kors Outlet
http://www.michaellkorsfactoryonline.com/ Michael Kors Factory Online
http://www.newcoachfactory.com/ Coach Factory Outlet
http://www.north-faceoutletonlines.net/ North Face Outlet Online
http://www.polo-outletstore.com/ Polo Outlet Store
http://www.ralphlaurenuker.com/ Ralph Lauren UK
http://www.saclongchamppairs.com/ Sac Longchamp Pairs
http://www.tcoachoutletonline.com/ Coach Outlet Online
http://www.the-coachfactoryoutlet.com/ Coach Factory Oultet
http://www.uggaustralia.cc/ Ugg Australia
http://www.barbour-jacketsoutlet.com/ Barbour Jackets Outlet Online
http://www.canada-gooser.com/ Canada Goose Outlet
http://www.guccishoes-factorys.com/ Gucci Outlet Online
http://www.michaelkorstates.com/ Michael Kors Outlet
http://www.moncler-clearance.com/ Moncler Clearance
http://www.moncler-jacketsoutletonline.com/ Moncler Jackets Outlet Online
http://www.northsclearance.com/ North Clearace Outlet
http://www.ralphxlaurenpolos.com/ Polo Ralph Lauren Outlet Online
http://www.woolrich-clearance.com/ Woolrich Clearance
http://www.cvshopfactory.com/ shop.coachfactory.com
http://www.mksfactoryoutlet.com/ Michael Kors Factory Outlet
http://www.zxcoachoutlet.com/ Coach Outlet Online USA
http://www.mischristmas.com/ Coach Factory Outlet Online
http://www.misblackfriday.com/ Black Friday
http://www.newoutletonlinemall.com/ Coach Purses Outlet Online
http://www.clickmichaelkors.com/ Michael Kors USA
http://www.cmichaelkorsoutlet.com/ Michael Kors Outlet USA
http://www.ralphlaurenepolo.com/ Ralph Lauren Polo

Star Star Star Star Star
www.onlinegmsale.com
Jan 19, 2014

2014 super bowl nfl jerseys cheap, http://www.onlinegmsale.com/
cheap nfl hoody china http://www.onlinegmsale.com/NFL-Hoodie-s727.html
cheapest nba wholesale jerseys http://www.onlinegmsale.com/NBA-Jerseys-c77.html
chicaco bulls jersey, # throwback jerseys, $ NFL Jerseys, $20 cheap nfl jerseys for sale
http://www.onlinegmsale.com/MLB-Jerseys-c94.html

Star Star Star Star Star
www.nfljerseysalecheap.com
May 17, 2013

new nfl jersey cheap, 2013 new nfl jersey sale, nfl jersey 2013, cheap baseball jerseys
http://www.nfljerseysalecheap.com/
sf giants jersey cheap, baseball jersey for sale, wholesale nba jerseys, wholesale nhl jerseys,
http://www.nfljerseysalecheap.com/Nike-NFL-Jerseys-c124.html
wholesale nike nfl jerseys, new nfl jersey wholesale
http://www.nfljerseysalecheap.com/MLB-Jerseys-c94.html
cheap mlb jerseys, cheap nhl jersey
http://www.nfljerseysalecheap.com/NBA-Jerseys-c77.html
cheap nba jerseys, wholesale mlb jersey, cheap nhl jerseys

Star Star Star Star Star
www.freerunmm.com
May 15, 2013

http://www.freerunmm.com/ nike free runs
http://www.freerunmm.com/ nike free run 2
http://www.freerunmm.com/ nike free run
http://www.freerunmm.com/ nike free 3.0
http://www.freerunmm.com/ nike free 3.0 v3
http://www.freerunmm.com/ cheap nike free run
http://www.freerunmm.com/ nike free 3.0 v4
http://www.freerunmm.com/ nike free 4.0 v2
http://www.freerunmm.com/ nike free 2012
http://www.freerunmm.com/ cheap nike free
http://www.freerunmm.com/ free runs
http://www.freerunmm.com/ nike free tr
http://www.freerunmm.com/ cheap nike frees

Star Star Star Star Star
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com
May 05, 2013

Cheap china nfl jerseys wholesale
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/
Australia basketball jerseys. Australia soccer jerseys, cheap mlb jerseys, college basketball jerseys, wholesale nba jerseys,wholesale nhl jerseys,discount nhl jerseys
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/Nike-NFL-Jerseys-c124/
nike nfl Jerseys cheap ,super bowl nfl jerseys sale
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/MLB-Jerseys-c94/
baseball jerseys for sale mlb jerseys cheap cheap nhl jersey
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/NBA-Jerseys-c77/
wholesale mlb jerseys cheap nhl jerseys wholesale nhl jerseys, basketball jerseys cheap, nba jerseys for sale. college ncaa jerseys
http://www.jersey2shopsale.com/Soccer-Jerseys-c118/
Australia basketball jerseys sale. Australia soccer jerseys cheap.

Star Star Star Star Star
Brittney
Apr 29, 2013

I can't help but notice it says not to bring a map and compass. I've done a few sections of the AT in New England and I would have been lost a few times if I didn't have a compass on me. I think a compass and a basic map are lightweight enough to bring out with you.

Star Star Star Star Star
www.jerseycaptain.com
Apr 19, 2013

From the 15th Boston Marathon terminal, two explosions, shootings MIT campus police, Cambridge carjacking rob people, to the strong confrontation with the police shootout, Boston bombings young suspects all the way west. Now, a large number of police armed police, armored vehicles, snipers have to flush out the last of a 19-year-old suspects in the city of Watertown, coke Hal ,Xi Jinping couples also named Time magazine's person of the year in April 18th, Good quality good service nfl jerseys wholesale http://www.jerseycaptain.com elite nike nfl jerseys sale. http://www.jerseycaptain.com/San-Francisco-49ers-s644 nike 49ers nfl Jerseys,super bowl nfl jerseys, discount soccer jerseys,, wholesale nfl jerseys cheap
http://www.jerseycaptain.com/MLB-Jerseys-c94 cool base MLB Jerseys, 2012 world series San Francisco Giants MLB Jerseys, nfl shoes, wholesale nfl jerseys china
http://www.jerseycaptain.com/NBA-Jerseys-c77 Revolution 30 Swingman NBA Jerseys, Hardwood Classics NBA Jerseys, rockets jersey, wholesale basketball jerseys
elite game limited light out nfl jerseys. Australia basketball jerseys. Australia soccer jerseys
You will be satisfied with our service and our jerseys quality. Quickly shipping., the United States of America, "time" magazine published a list of the year 2013 of the in its official website, China President Xi Jinping and Mrs. Peng Liyuan also selected. At the same time ranked 2013 in the world's 100 most influential people by the United States President Barack Obama couple.

Star Star Star Star Star
http://www.yourjerseyhome.com
Apr 10, 2013

Super bowl nfl jerseys http://www.yourjerseyhome.com cheap nfl jerseys wholesale,Nike Baltimore Ravens Jerseys . Australia basketball jerseys. Australia soccer jerseys
http://www.yourjerseyhome.com/San-Francisco-49ers-s644.html Nike San Francisco 49ers jerseys light out black jerseys
http://www.yourjerseyhome.com/NBA-Jerseys-c77.html throwback M&N Jerseys, limited nfl jerseys, elite nfl jerseys
http://www.yourjerseyhome.com/NCAA-Jerseys-c114.html college ncaa jerseys cheap
http://www.yourjerseyhome.com/Nike-NFL-Jerseys-c124.html cool base MLB Jerseys, 2012 world series San Francisco Giants MLB Jerseys
http://www.yourjerseyhome.com/San-Francisco-49ers-s644.html Revolution 30 Swingman NBA Jerseys, Hardwood Classics NBA Jerseys

Jeff
May 23, 2012

To ERICS post about baxter state park. ERIC, you need to check your facts. Baxter may be open, but most of the time, Katahdin trails are closed until around June 1st. The parks director makes the decision after hearing from the rangers. Some years it is earlier than others. Always call first before making plans. The fine for hiking closed Katahdin trails is $200 per person. Just thought you should know.

Larry Budd
May 18, 2012

Another place to plan an A.T. hike and read a 1989 Backpacker article on hiking the A.T., P.C.T and C.D.T is http://thetrailhead.ning.com. We got back on last summer in Pennsylvania. Port Clinton Hotel to Bear Mountain Summit. The trail is perfect for section hikes too!

Eric
May 18, 2012

WRONG INFORMATION:
This is a comment to the statement "Baxter Opens June 1". WRONG!
I don't even understand how you could make this mistake. Considering the reader following of Backpacker, many people just got really really bad information. Actually the park is open year round. However, they only allow overnight camping from May 15th to October 15th (for the summer season), and December 1st - March 31st (for the winter season), the other times you can get in and do what you want, but can't spend the night. If the author performed a simple Baxter State Park website check then the correct information would have been known.
Thanks,
Eric

Yukon Don
May 17, 2012

Which foods are the most recommended and how much per day?

Robbie
Apr 21, 2012

Section Hiker here. Don't have time yet to do a full thru hike but catch a week to a month every summer, while hiking locally on weekends. I agree with some of the comments on food. My sisters and I undertake a different section of the AT every summer. Our packs have lightened as we learned our needs and wants on the trail. We are down to 30# packs without restocking. We dehydrate veggies and shredded meat. Evening comes and we cook rice and add the veggies and meat and eat very well compared to the poptarts and protein bars and hiker meals we've seen. Dried fruit livens up the oatmeal without added sugar. When we come off the trail we are in awesome shape. I have lost 7 pant sizes since the first time we took to the trail and feel better than I ever have in my life. I am proof you don't have to be in tip top shape to hike as long as you enjoy your hike and stick to it for the time you have allotted. Measure your hike by pleasure gained, not miles. The trail is beautiful and the company is grand.

hhiker33
Apr 12, 2012

I thru hiked in 2009. I found this article very helpful. I even bought some of the gear recommended. It all held up well. Maine was my favorite state. The rocks in Pennsylvania suck, but it is only a relatively short area in the north. Don't worry about the bears, they are a treat to see, but carrying guns, pepper spray, or knives is the sign of a rookie, who is carrying extra weight for nothing.

TRUST ME!!!!
May 06, 2011

I know few people will likely see this comment, so I am going to put this in all caps. NO MATTER HOW ULTRA-LIGHT YOU WANT TO BE, IF YOU HAVE ANY KIND OF BOWEL PROBLEMS YOU'RE GOING TO WISH YOU HAD MORE TOILET PAPER. I pulled out the cardboard tube and just took a portion of a roll. I was stupid. Fortunately, I came upon a park-maintained visitor center with a facility from which I took a small portion of toilet paper. Had this not been available, I would have had some of the worst rear-end problems. On a similar note, chaffing is oftentimes helped by applying neosporin. Just a few tips from a section hiker.

Lauren Ryan
Feb 11, 2011

I don't fear the bears getting at my food as much as I do the mice. I bought a Grubpack mouse proof food bag specifically for my treks on the Appalachian Trail. It's a lightweight, rodent proof backpacking food container. I hang it like a usual food bag. It's not a bear bag, but mice and squirrels can't chew through it. They are sold online. A yahoo/google search will find it.

Rick a.k.a. Woollyworm
Jan 08, 2011

Hey Eric, don't think so much about bears. My experience has been the only way I see them is if they didn't see me first. Hang your food bag though. I use two pieces of kernmantle 3mm line 30 feet long and hang the food bag between two trees. Nothing has ever gotten it. I eat a lot of Mountain House, Ramen Noodles, Nutrigrain bars, some GORP. Get to a trail town and it's burgers, pizza, anything. Cook on an Etowah Outfitters alcohol stove with Heet in the yellow bottle as fuel. My pack with one to two weeks worth of food will weigh 30 to 35 pounds. I could get it down even lower than that because there are some wants in there along with the needs.

c29368
May 09, 2010

@Old Dog Dave
Hey I grew up hiking the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and am also a weekend warrior myself. The area has a lot to offer in terms of trails, and other places of interest. 7 miles south is Kirkridge shelter, super nice and clean. Heading north you will go through Delaware Water Gap. Stop by Edge of the Woods Outfitters if you need any supplies or information, they are located in town. The AT will cross the Delaware River via Rt. 80. From the Dunfield Creek parking area you can take the red trail hiking up the relatively steep Indian Head. That will loop back to the trailhead and the AT. Water Gap to Culvers Gap is a nice weekend hike, about 30 miles. North of Water Gap is Worthington State Forest. They have a designated backpackers site about 3 miles north of the trailhead @ Dunfield Creek, plenty of grassy tent sites, bear boxes, and an outhouse. Head north and you will see a sign for Mohican Outdoor Center which is run by the AMC, they offer a lodge and rooms to stay. The next shelter is Brink Road shelter about 24 miles north of Water Gap. New Jersey is full of Black Bears so watch your food. I also believe open fires are prohibited along the AT in New Jersey.

c29368
May 09, 2010

@Old Dog Dave
Hey I grew up hiking the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and am also a weekend warrior myself. The area has a lot to offer in terms of trails, and other places of interest. 7 miles south is Kirkridge shelter, super nice and clean. Heading north you will go through Delaware Water Gap. Stop by Edge of the Woods Outfitters if you need any supplies or information, they are located in town. The AT will cross the Delaware River via Rt. 80. From the Dunfield Creek parking area you can take the red trail hiking up the relatively steep Indian Head. That will loop back to the trailhead and the AT. Water Gap to Culvers Gap is a nice weekend hike, about 30 miles. North of Water Gap is Worthington State Forest. They have a designated backpackers site about 3 miles north of the trailhead @ Dunfield Creek, plenty of grassy tent sites, bear boxes, and an outhouse. Head north and you will see a sign for Mohican Outdoor Center which is run by the AMC, they offer a lodge and rooms to stay. The next shelter is Brink Road shelter about 24 miles north of Water Gap. New Jersey is full of Black Bears so watch your food. I also believe open fires are prohibited along the AT in New Jersey.

View all comments

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Falling in the backcountry
Posted On: Aug 20, 2014
Submitted By: Grizzly James
The Political Arena
How ISIS got rich
Posted On: Aug 20, 2014
Submitted By: Ben2World
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions