Re: Approach Trail How many hours, on average does it take a middle-aged hiker to trek the Approach Trail? Is it logical to start out from the lodge at around 10:00 a.m., then make camp at or near the southern terminus in the late afternoon/early evening, then, be bright eyed and bushy tailed for first light start the following morning? Or, do most folks continue past the top of Springer and get as far as you can on the first day?
Re: Approach Trail It all depends on your level of fitness. I was 46 and in great shape when I did this section. We left the Lodge about 8 am in early April 2004, and covered 12 miles to Hickory Flatts Cemetery by 3 pm. I would think that most people could get to Springer Mtn. Shelter for their first day.
If you're going to be out for more than a few weeks, then there's no reason to try to put in big miles those first few weeks. Let your body adjust to the rigors of carrying a pack on an uneven trail. We did three 12-mile days to start off our week-long section hike, followed by three 18-milers, but we were all experienced backpackers also. A lot of newbies start with 5-10 mile days and gradually crank up the mileage as they get in shape.