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  1. #1
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    Default any side trails/places that you don't want to miss on a thru hike?

    considering that your not just trying to plow through the trail as quick as possible, are there many places along the way not to far off trail that you want to make sure not to miss? I don't want to walk hours down a side trail to a waterfall or a similar view as what's been around but don't want to miss anything crazy being right there. Are there many signs on the AT marking points of interest that would be down a side trail?

  2. #2
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    eh, not so much on the AT, for me. Lots of times I’d hear about a view and think “**** it,
    I’m really tired and hungry. There’s gonna be more views tomorrow. classic nobo almost there cynicism.

    That said, I’d take side trips for waterfalls and lakes, especially for lunch or a pretty campsite.

    I definitely wanted to see certain towns, though.

    You can take a train from harpers ferry to DC. There’s one to NYC in ny as well.

    I took a week off in Philly with old friends


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Registered User Sandy of PA's Avatar
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    Spy Rock, Dragons tooth come to mind.

  4. #4
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    Shuckstack in GSMNP.


    Clingmans Dome in GSMNP


    Mt Leconte overlooks off the Boulevard Tr. A clear day in fall with the colorful foliage is iconic.


    Charlies Bunion and The Jump Off - it's a signed narrow rocky side trail off the AT as an alternate in GSMNP



    High Point Tower in NJ - another short worthy blue blaze alternate or out and back


    Gulf Hagas Rim Tr - another AT alternate but very fragile but so much more scenic, a rim trail along a narrow gorge



    Anthonys Nose, Graymoor, and The Dover Oak in NY


    My goodness pick anything in The White Mountains. Check out the short out and back to Mt Liberty and Mt Flume.


    I'm a waterfall fanatic. I did a NOBO thru with an expressed intent of taking in as many I could within 2 miles of the AT. Most waterfalls you will not have to travel that far. All are different. Appreciate them.

  5. #5
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    Kinkora hostel and Bob Peoples


    Blackberry Milkshakes with extra berries from one of the Shenandoah NP eating establishments.


    Falls Village and the "pots" - deep smooth stone basins around the falls. Be careful.

  6. #6

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    +1 Bob Peoples hostel

    Upper Goose Pond cabin in Mass. Canoe, very nice large large pond, blueberry pancakes for breakfast, only .5 off trail (maybe .6)
    A Human Being.

  7. #7

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    Mt. Cammerer in GSMNP. Take a nero day and just roam around Grayson Highlands.

  8. #8
    Registered User Duff's Avatar
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    Gulf Hagas

  9. #9
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    There are countless vistas and occasional waterfalls just off the trail on a blue blaze. Most are a short walk, maybe 100 yards but some might be as far as a 1/4 mile. Typically there will be sign announcing "VISTA" or "VIEW". I try to make a point of visiting as many as possible. It's usually a nice place to take a break, eat a snack and have a attitude adjustment.

    Obviously, if the weather is crap, there is no point in going off trail. After a while, many thru hikers stop bothering to visit the side attractions saying "nothing I haven't already seen 1000 times already".
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  10. #10

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    Guyot Campsite in the whites is zoo but worth going there to take a short walk over to West Bond to check out sunset. Same for Carlo Col campsite, worth the short walk up to Mt Carlo for the sunrise or sunset view

  11. #11
    Registered User Koozy's Avatar
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    Dismal Creek - one of the better swimming holes (~20 miles before Pearisburg, VA)

    Woods Hole Hostel - best hostel on the trail IMHO (~12 miles before Pearisburg, VA)

    The Captains - nice spot to hang out, swim, camp, or just have a free soda (~15 miles after Pearisburg)

    Dragons Tooth

    Bear's Den Hostel - Another great trail hostel (~1,000 miles in)

    Caledonia State Park (PA) - pools & food (concession stand)

    Great Falls - also an amazing swimming hole, if the water allows (trailside near Falls Village, CT)

    Upper Goose Pond - nice little AMC wilderness cabin 0.5 miles off trail (before Lee, MA)

    Cookie Lady house - Trail angel's house 0.1 miles off trail; sells ice cream, sodas and hardboiled eggs. Lets you camp in yard and has a large blueberry patch-great stop in July. (Lee, MA, ~11 miles after Upper Goose Pond)

    Summit of Mt. Killington, Vermont (0.25 miles off trail)

    The Inn @ the Long Trail - great food & entertainment

    The Lookout Cabin - privately only 4-sided cabin 0.1 miles off trail that is a great shelter (~15 miles after the Inn @ The Long Trail)

    Greenleaf Hut - shoulder of Mt lafayette, get work for stay and you won't regret the 1 mile downhill hike off trail

    Bondcliff - exposed rock ridge above treeline; symbolic NH mountain (between Galehead Hut & Zealand Falls Hut)

    All of the Presidential Mountain Summits - Do yourself a favor and stray off of the AT and follow the summits instead; purists miss out for no good reason

    Summit off Old Speck Mountain - Just before Grafton Notch, Maine

    Gulf Hagas - 3 mile loop of a slate gorge within the 100 mile wilderness

    Knife's Edge Trail, Katahdin - best way to wrap up (or start) a thru hike; best trail on the east coast IMHO
    Frankenstein - 2014 GAME
    www.trailjournals.com/kylezontheat

  12. #12
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    Lots of other "greats" shared. Here's another. It's super rewarding! This really isn't what you asked Lazy Lightning but when you visit these people and places incorporate giving something of yourself to others. It makes the AT a better environment. For example, don't be adverse to giving an authentic loving friendly hug to Bob Peoples at Kinkora or Neville and Michael at Woods Hole. For example, at Upper Goose Pond ask the Cabin Caretaker if water is needed. The UGP cabin gets its water from across the lake at a spring getting there via a canoe. As another example, when inquiring about a stay at one of the AMC huts ask if you can share a non ego centric talk about being a LD hiker followed by a Q&A.


    BTW, the foot massages by Neville are SOOOO worth it!

  13. #13

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    see em all...Last one to Maine Wins!

  14. #14

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    I have sidetracked several times to views, waterfalls, etc, and skipped several times. I regretted the skipped ones more later.

  15. #15

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    x2 on Shuckstack. The side trail is very short and totally worth it.. you can see 5 different mountain ranges from it. I hiked it last March with about 60 of my closest thru hiker friends and I only saw 3 people make the side trail as a place to stop and eat lunch. Personally, I'd never miss it.

  16. #16
    Registered User evyck da fleet's Avatar
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    Seeing how weather plays into how good the views are, there isn’t a can’t miss side trip. It’s been five years and I still haven’t been to either fire tower in GSMP or returned to Klingman’s yet. I got clouded out on my trip to LeConte too.

    I did like side trips into DC, Luray for the caverns, Gatlinburg for the tackiness, Boston after the hike and a week around NYC with friends. I liked the contrast to hiking. It helped keep away the view snob attitude that they hikers get.

  17. #17
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Not a side trail, but I would recommend not missing the Franconia Ridge (and/or Presidentails) on a clear day.

    One could do the miles and still miss out (fog/rain) if hiking on a rigid schedule.

    Also the Knife Edge- if even for a few hundred yards out and back.

  18. #18
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    this is awesome

    As soon as I get my Awol guide I'm gonna go through this thread/figure out where every place is and mark it in my guide! .... if the weather sux then I'll just have to make a point to come back someday. If I get the feeling like "I don't want to walk this .5 mile side trail for a similar view" then it's probably time for a zero day or two cause I want to enjoy this and take in as much as I can.

    I do want to be a "purist" and hike the entire trail but I'll be up for taking the AT and then going back for a scenic loop if a side trail is really nice. I will certainly be visiting the Whites again as I live fairly close (CT) so I'm not going to skip any of the AT in the Whites for another trail but will definitley be coming back to the presidential range. I'll still check things out there but will always come back to the AT where I left off. Too bad the AT doesn't go over the presidential summits, must be cause trails already existed and they brought the AT through elsewhere?

    Dogwood is right to, any chance to share/help out/show appreciation is super rewarding and a great feeling, I always try to give something back for everything given to me and will be sure to carry that piece of mind through the trail with me. Thanks for all the replies/recomendations here.

  19. #19
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LazyLightning View Post
    Too bad the AT doesn't go over the presidential summits, must be cause trails already existed and they brought the AT through elsewhere?
    I understand the urge to tag another summit, but even where the AT skirts around them you are still above tree line, so the views are hardly diminished — as you follow the footsteps (hoof prints?) of history.

  20. #20
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    Aw man, everyone’s a purist when they first get out there.

    The Whites really are great, though. The Prezzies was probably my favorite day; awful morning but when I was coming down from Washington the winds blew the clouds away and it became magical


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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