The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, inspiring millions to test their endurance and indulge in its beauty. Running continuously for 2,200 miles (3,540 km) from Maine to Georgia, it carves its way through wildflower fields, flowing rivers, and great peaks. But you don’t have to thru-hike to get a taste of the trail. Here are some of our favorite day hikes along the way, from Moon Drive & Hike Appalachian Trail.
Best Hikes for Fall Foliage
Sam’s Gap to Big Bald
13 miles/20.9 km, 7 hours
Pigsah National Forest, North Carolina: This long ridge hike in the gives you all those Smoky Mountain views—without the carloads of tourists.
8.8 miles/14.2 km, 5 hours
Salem, Virginia: With its iconic perch and widescreen views, McAfee Knob has everything you want for an October hike.
Bear Mountain (CT)
6.7 miles/10.8 km, 4 hours
Mount Riga State Park, Connecticut: This fantastic hike through woods and dwarf pines reaches a large rock pile where you can view fall colors for days.
6.2 miles/3.2 km, 5 hours
New Ashford, Massachusetts: Summit this iconic peak in October and you’ll be rewarded with especially dazzling views.
Best Hikes for History
Springer Mountain Loop
4.7 miles/7.6 km, 3 hours
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, Georgia: The southern terminus of the AT is an emotional beginning (or end), and it’s a doable climb for most.
Bear Mountain (NY)
4 miles/6.4 km, 3 hours
Bear Mountain State Park, New York: This is where the Appalachian Trail was born. The views aren’t bad either—you can see New York City on a clear day.
6.2 miles/3.2 km, 5 hours
New Ashford, Massachusetts: This hike has great views and a rich history, having been summited by literary greats like Henry David Thoreau and Herman Melville.
9.5 miles/15.3 km, 7 hours
Baxter State Park, Maine: The northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is a great American peak with equal parts danger and excitement.
Best Hikes for Waterfalls
Tumbling Waters Trail
3 miles/4.8 km, 2 hours
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania: This easy hike down steps leads to two simply beautiful falls.
Buttermilk Falls Trail
2.8 miles/4.5 km, 2 hours
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey: Check out the tallest falls in New Jersey while ascending about 1,000 feet (305 m).
Race Brook Falls
4.8 miles/7.7 km, 5 hours
Sheffield, Massachusetts: Climbing up these falls until you reach the summit of Mount Everett is quite the challenge.
Thundering Brook Falls
1 mile/1.6 km, 30 minutes
Killington, Vermont: Take a stroll on a boardwalk to a pretty waterfall tucked away in busy Killington.
Start planning your Appalachian Trail adventure today:
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