About 2, 000 hikers attempt to “thru-hike” the Trail, covering all 2, 185 miles in one calendar year. People from across the globe are drawn to the AT for a variety of reasons: to reconnect with nature, to escape the stress of city life, to meet new people, deepen old friendships, or to experience a simpler life. The majority of hikers start in Springer Mountain, Georgia and head north. They are known as northbounders. A much lesser number head south starting in Katahdin, Maine and are called southbounders.
Travels Through 14 States
The Trail travels through 14 states along the crests and valleys of the Appalachian Mountain Range from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia, to the Trail’s northern terminus at Katahdin, Maine. Along the way, it crosses through 6 national parks and 8 national forests, as well as dozens of state parks, forests and game lands.
The 250, 000-acre land base, referred to as the AT corridor, is arguably the most significant conservation corridor along the East Coast. Trail lands anchor the nation’s eastern forest block, which provides both ecological and economic benefits to the 300 jurisdictions traversed by the Trail, and beyond. Forests along the Trail protect the source waters for approx. 1/3 of the East Coast’s water supply, including headwaters of 64 major watersheds and nearly 1, 800 water bodies.
Hot Springs is 273.9 Miles from Springer Mountain
Hot Springs is 273.9 miles from the southern portion of the Trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia. The AT enters North Carolina at the Georgia border, then climbs Standing Indian Mountain and crosses the Nantahala River before winding through the lush Nantahala National Forest. Before reaching the Great Smoky Mountains, it rises into the Stecoah-Cheoah Mountain area. It bisects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the North Carolina-Tennessee border, which it follows on its way to the town of Hot Springs, NC. Elevations vary from 1, 725 to 5, 498 feet along the North Carolina segment of the Trail.
Hot Springs – North Carolina’s AT Town
Hot Springs NC the only town in North Carolina where the Appalachian Trail travels directly through town. Coming from the south the Trail enters at the edge of town coming off Deer Park Mountain and literally runs right down the main street for about a mile before climbing up Lover’s Leap out of the river valley. The Trail in town is marked along the way with handsome granite markers bearing the AT logo which are embedded in the sidewalk.
Hot Springs welcomes over 2, 000 through-hikers annually, mostly between March and May as the thru-hikers head north to Maine. Thru-hikers typically stay in town for a couple of days (which they call Zeroes because they put in zero miles then) to rest, re-provision, do laundry and eat a good meal and enjoy a cold beverage. There is a lesser number of southbound hikers hiking from Maine to Spring Mountain, Georgia. They typically arrive in the fall.