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Appalachian Trail

AT in a Day: FAQ

Answers to your AT in a Day FAQs

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Understandably, you have some questions. We’ve got answers. Below are some common queries about this project. Scroll down to see if we answered your question already. If not, drop a line in the comments and we’ll see about answering what comes.

What exactly is this?
Simply put, a celebration of the most important long trail in America.

When is it?
August 20, 2016, all day long, midnight to midnight, but it starts when you start hiking and ends when you’re done.

Is this supporting a charity or something?
No. It’s a pure and simple expression of love for the AT.

How many sections are there?
We divided the trail into 331 segments. Most start and end at road crossings (God bless the AT). The shortest segment is under 2 miles, and the longest is more than 25 miles, but the average is somewhere around 5. Here’s the breakdown:

GA: 16
NC/TN: 60
VA: 81
WV: 1
MD: 5
PA: 38
NJ: 12
NY: 15
CT: 7
MA: 15
VT: 22
NH: 20
ME: 39

Who can participate?
Everyone. There are segments appropriate for taking your grandma, and segments appropriate for your crew of hardcore distance runners.

How many sections can I sign up for?
As many as you think you can reasonably hike in a day. If you lead a hiking club, you can sign up for a bunch and then direct your members to different areas, if that’s what you want to do.

Do I need permits?
Short answer: maybe. Some sections are more remote and will require you to hike and get set-up the night before. In areas that require camping permits, you’ll need one if you’re camping. Other sections, including through national parks, are dayhikes. In most cases, you don’t need a wilderness permit for these hikes, though you may need to register at trailhead kiosks.

Where can I get more information about my segment?
Start with our complete guide to the Appalachian Trail, and stay tuned for more info. We’ll add details to the sections as the date gets closer.

What if I sign up and can’t hike?
Be sure to un-sign up before the day of the hike. If you do sign up, though, make every effort to hike!

Can I sign up and purposefully not show?
Why would you do a thing like that?

I dunno, I guess to torpedo the thing because I think it’s a bad idea?
Well, aren’t you pleasant.

I guess I’m concerned that this is going to ruin the trail.
If creating a bunch of new advocates ruins the trail, then yes, this will ruin the trail. But. We have the blessing of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the group that oversees the trail, and the AT is already very busy and we expect the foot traffic we add will be relatively small. That said, please represent yourselves (and the magazine) well and follow all Leave No Trace guidelines, respect private property, and generally don’t be an idiot. A lot of things in this world have been saved by people not being idiots. Let’s collectively thru-hike this epic trail with the same idea in mind.

It’s not really a thru-hike, though, right?
Yeah, I guess not really. But hiking the whole trail in one go as a single entity (the Readers and Editors of Backpacker Magazine) has never before been done.

Wait, editors?
Yes, editors. Trail celebrities, too. Stay tuned for more information about where you can join Backpacker staffers, trail scouts, and friends of the mag as the event gets closer.

My segment is already taken. Now what?
The idea isn’t to only have one person per segment, the idea is to have at least one person per segment. Get out there and join the people who will be out there! Introduce yourself. Bring some extra gorp/candy/beer. You’re all on the same team!

What happens if I get hurt?
Self-rescue is the name of the game. Carry a cell phone, make good decisions, and don’t get in over your head.

What do I get for participating?
A good day on the trail and maybe a cameo in the video we’re working on.

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