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  1. #1

    Default How early in the spring can I start North Bound from Harpers Valley in the spring?

    I know weather isn't very predictable but since I've only seen snow in Texas 2 times in the last 25 years I need to know when I can hit the trail again? Late March or mid April? Thoughts?


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  2. #2
    illabelle's Avatar
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    Assume you mean Harpers Ferry.
    I wouldn't hesitate to start around that time. If I remember right, we did Maryland in March. It was cold, and we had some snow flurries, but no issues getting around.
    Are you hoping for snow? Or hoping to NOT have snow?

  3. #3

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    Mid April at the earliest, even then that's iffy. Late April has a better chance of avoiding the worst of the cold, wet spring weather the North East is famous for. This year that weather lingered into early June.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    Assume you mean Harpers Ferry.
    I wouldn't hesitate to start around that time. If I remember right, we did Maryland in March. It was cold, and we had some snow flurries, but no issues getting around.
    Are you hoping for snow? Or hoping to NOT have snow?
    No snow, blood is way to thin..


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  5. #5

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    Your biggest issue is getting through NH and Maine too early. If you assume 3 months to get to Katahdin, then starting in mid-March or April would work. It will be cold (possibly below freezing, especially at night) but if you have good gear you should be okay.

  6. #6

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    The Green Mountain Club, which maintains the AT in Vermont, prefers that people stay off the AT in spring mud season until Memorial Day weekend. That starts on May 26 in 2018. It's 573 trail miles from Harpers Ferry to the MA/VT line. How soon you would cover 573 miles depends on the miles per day you are comfortable hiking, and that is unknown to all but you.

    Based on those numbers if you are a 12 miles a day hiker, you wouldn't want to start before April 9; 15 miles a day don't leave until April 18; 18 miles a day don't leave before April 25. You get the idea.

    Of course, you don't say in your post how far you intend to go. Some kind of section hike? Flip flop thru hike?
    Last edited by map man; 06-20-2017 at 08:27.
    Life Member: ATC, ALDHA, Superior Hiking Trail Association

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by map man View Post
    The Green Mountain Club, which maintains the AT in Vermont, prefers that people stay off the AT in spring mud season until Memorial Day weekend. That starts on May 26 in 2018. It's 573 trail miles from Harpers Ferry to the MA/VT line. How soon you would cover 573 miles depends on the miles per day you are comfortable hiking, and that is unknown to all but you.

    Based on those numbers if you are a 12 miles a day hiker, you wouldn't want to start before April 9; 15 miles a day don't leave until April 18; 18 miles a day don't leave before April 25. You get the idea.

    Of course, you don't say in your post how far you intend to go. Some kind of section hike? Flip flop thru hike?
    Retire at the end of September, start in Georgia (October) then hike to HF go home; come back and finish the thru hike...Of course I'm in the planning stage trying to figure out my options...


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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by neshobakid View Post
    Retire at the end of September, start in Georgia (October) then hike to HF go home; come back and finish the thru hike...Of course I'm in the planning stage trying to figure out my options...
    Well, that is an option. At best you have 2 good months and that should get you to Damascus. Even getting that far depends on what kind of fall weather we have. Hot and dry or cold and wet? HF would be a serious long shot. Current level of fitness, experience and how much your willing to put up with are big factors to consider. Only one way to find out, and that's to try.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Well, that is an option. At best you have 2 good months and that should get you to Damascus. Even getting that far depends on what kind of fall weather we have. Hot and dry or cold and wet? HF would be a serious long shot. Current level of fitness, experience and how much your willing to put up with are big factors to consider. Only one way to find out, and that's to try.

    Yep, this would be the perfect scenario at this point and time, lots of days between now & then and I'm not any younger.. Also thought about SOBO from HF to start, hoping/maybe to buy a little warmer weather..

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by neshobakid View Post
    Yep, this would be the perfect scenario at this point and time, lots of days between now & then and I'm not any younger.. Also thought about SOBO from HF to start, hoping/maybe to buy a little warmer weather..
    I know it seems counter-intuitive, but because the Great Smoky Mountains down south are at such a high elevation, on average they experience worse weather regarding cold and snow in late autumn than northern Virginia. If you start the first of October you are better off doing Springer-to-Harpers Ferry rather than the other way around.

    I hope your plan to hike part of the trail this fall and part of the trail next spring/summer goes well -- doing it that way you will avoid contributing to the congestion problems that some parts of the trail experience in some parts of the year (like early spring in the southern part of the AT, for instance).
    Life Member: ATC, ALDHA, Superior Hiking Trail Association

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by neshobakid View Post
    No snow, blood is way to thin..
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    Have seen hail and snow in PA as late as mid-May on more than one occasion, but nothing that would keep you from hiking the trail. Whether or not there is snow, you will need gear for cold temps through most of May.
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  12. #12

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    I've found that "WV," MD, PA, NJ, NY, CT, MA and VT are all manageable even in early spring and late winter basically to Hanover, although you may have to hop off to warm up here or there for a cold snap or wintery storm. But that's it. Nothing north of Hanover or south of Harper's Ferry. But yeah hiking through VT in spring mud is frowned upon by the Green Mountain Club to like June. And I don't think you can get north of the Whites until June realistically but I'm not certain.

    "Cold gear," I don't know that you need in much in May except at Mt. Greylock and then in VT. I wouldn't pack just running shorts but you'd be alright with a good rain jacket, wool baselayer and pants and shirts, and a wool or windstopper beanie. The beanie is key. That said I've run into very blustery open-shelter nights half way up Greylock in the 30's in June that were really REALLY unpleasant in a lean-to, even with a 40 degree WM bag. That wind cut right through. If that happens and there's no place to pitch a tent, spread it out over your sleeping bag to block the wind from taking all your warmth out of your bag. (Just a tip)

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