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  1. #1
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    Default I have been section hiking on/off for 10 + years....questions

    I live in Al and the drive is starting to get longer. I have made it to Woods Hole in Va. I
    was told, at this point, (7-8 hr drive), many consider flying/shuttle service.
    Is this logistically difficult to set up?
    Will drivers pick up/take back to airport?
    As i get further north, i know i will have to learn how to do this eventually...
    thanks for any advise
    -sloan

  2. #2

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    From Florida this is also a problem. Two years ago my wife and I made a 2 week trip to the NorthEast - did 7 single day hikes from New Jersey north and by doing this finished the AT 14 State Challenge - I have now hiked a portion in each of the 14 states of the AT. I have no plans of ever completing a total section hike, but the 14 State Challenge was good for me.

  3. #3
    GoldenBear's Avatar
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    It's do-able.

    You can take a plane / bus / train into either Washington or New York City, and then take a bus / train to a wide variety of starting / stopping points of the A.T. It will mean a day or so of traveling between your home and such points, but it's not difficult to do or arrange. Feel free to ask about the ways to get to specific points from either city.

  4. #4

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    It's doable, but it's a pain and can get expensive if not flying into major hubs. Therefore, try to arrange for the most amount of time on the trail as possible. I'd think 2 weeks would be the minimum. Less then that would seem to me as being not worth the trouble or expense. I know, getting that much time off is hard to get for most people.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    At some point I believe that you will need to bite the bullet and go up to Katahdin when the weather, trail condition, insects, etc. are optimum and hike south to New Hampshire. Pick an optimum stopping place that will get you to and from the Boston Airport and back home. Reverse the trip back to the trail.
    You donít want to do that trip more than once.
    Good luck!
    Wayne

  6. #6

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    Unless cost is no object there are plenty of airport and shuttle firms that can support your wishes. I live in northern NH and section the entire AT by just driving. Obviously doing two weeks at a time with a day off in between is more efficient than one week at a time. You can fly into Bangor Maine and be on the trail to the top of Katahdin in the AM.

  7. #7
    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    I drive places as far as i can
    Up to about 16 hrs
    Nothing to do with cost
    I Iike being in control of my schedule
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  8. #8

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    From Iowa,and I can relate.Two places with easy airport access are Harpers Ferry and Delaware Water Gap. Train runs from HF to Washington DC,and a 25 dollar cab gets you to the airport. New York City and it's airports are a easy bus trip from Delaware Water Gap. Don't know about farther North yet,but if I live long enough,I will find out....

  9. #9
    Leonidas
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    We are section hiking as well. I have looked ahead and at some point, like you have found, it becomes necessary to go for longer than a week to make it worthwhile. 2026 we plan on doing 5 weeks/ 500+ miles for my 50th birthday. We will take the train there and back with a stop in NYC on the way home since my wife has never been. From what I have seen and heard, there are plenty of shuttles/hostels that cater to the section hiker crowd.
    AT: 274.5 mi

    Pinhoti Trail: 254 mi

    @leonidasonthetrail

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the info guys. Quite a few in my area have quit section
    hiking when around Va because of this. I would really like to make it to Maine

  11. #11

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    Amtrak was a big help to me (from Connecticut) for section-hiking the southern AT, and if you buy your ticket ahead of time, the fare is very reasonable. Check out the routes for the Northeast Regional. Check out the Crescent, which runs daily from New Orleans to New York City, and then look for buses or shuttles to the trail from your destination.

    https://www.amtrak.com/routes/crescent-train.html

  12. #12
    illabelle's Avatar
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    Not everyone can manage a trip of more than a week. My husband has a business to run, and our longest trip has been 12 days, including travel. We are fortunate to have half the trail reachable within a 7-hour drive, and most of that within 4 hours. Our strategy involves 2-3-4-day weekends to complete everything within driving range, and mostly 7-10-day trips when we fly. It's not cheap, and we're not rich, but we live well below our means. It's still cheaper than a typical American vacation to Disneyland or wherever. We have mostly avoided buses/trains because we want to maintain control of our schedule, but if a person has time flexibility, they can be a way to save money.

    A few years ago I laid out a plan of roughly 75-mile segments for everything from Pennsylvania to Maine. Each segment starts/ends at a point that looks reasonably accessible, like Duncannon, Port Clinton, DWG, Bellvale NY, or N Adams MA, Wallingford, Hanover. If our hike is done in linear fashion (most of the time) and if the airport is close to the trail, our shuttler will transport us directly from airport to trail. If our hike is non-linear (some of it SOBO, some NOBO, or not in sequence) or if we're far from the trail, we'll rent a car for the duration of the hike. Long shuttles can easily be $100-$250 or more. A rental reduces that cost, but of course you still have to get to your start/end points. We usually position the car at a mid-hike resupply point. When we reach the car, we can drive to a motel/shower/restaurant, or we can leave food and fresh clothes in the car to pick up and keep walking. A rental car in Maine has been essential for our hikes.

    We have skipped around a bit, but we've been careful about leaving "orphan" trail segments. We are continuous from the south up to Bellvale NY, from the RPH shelter to Hanover, and from Rangeley to Katahdin. What's left will be done in four trips, three of them are in the same area so we can adjust as necessary to pick up a few miles if a previous trip gets cut short. I've identified a week's worth of slacks mostly in NH, a couple near Andover ME, and one day in VT to get a taste of the Long Trail - logistics would be horribly expensive without a rental car. This year: 1) finish 50+ miles in NY (no rental) 2) backpack 60+ miles in NH north and south of the Whites (probably use a rental, but not really required). Next year: 3) the slacks (DEFINITELY use a rental) 4) the Mahoosucs (won't need rental for the hike, but might be cheaper than a long shuttle from the airport).

    Figuring out the logistics requires a look at details. We fly with our packs in duffel bags, and leave the duffels with clean clothes in the trunk of the shuttler's car. Shuttler brings cooking fuel, or includes a stop for us to buy our own. Always have backup shuttler contact info written down in case of a change in plans. We study our trail guide to determine the preferred location for each night, then select a flight (morning or evening) that works for those plans. Gotta think about where we'll eat while we travel, how far we have to hike after reaching the trail and whether it might be done in the dark. We keep in communication with our shuttler near the end of the hike just to confirm whether we're on track and zero in on our probable pickup time. It's awfully nice to be able to take a shower between the trail and the airport, maybe at a hostel, or a truck stop, or YMCA - but that's not always possible.
    Last edited by illabelle; 02-10-2019 at 09:16.

  13. #13
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    have never flown, and likely never will. i'm not s far from any of the trail, but springer is 13-14 hours away by car.

    one thing i'll echo from the statements above is the trips get longer. i'm not doing a weekend or 4 day hike 12 hours away.

    what i'll add to that is this- i wish i had not taken week long trip to places 2 hours away from my house years ago. why? because i am now all done with those places and if instead of being done with someplace nearby i had instead spent that week on something far flung it'd ultimately be easier to finish. but oh well. might be something for you to consider.

  14. #14
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    The easiest way is to move! That’s what happened to me when I had done the southern AT up to GSMNP. I moved to the Harrisburg PA area which was right smack in the center of the trail. I made it all the way up into central VT and now am faced with the same dilemma as you. However, I look at it a bit differently. If I am going to take two weeks and the travel expense to go to Vermont why would I just limit myself to the AT. Since that time I have hiked most of the CT, the Winds, Yellowstone, Tetons, Death Valley, Adirondaks and the Lofoten Islands. Every year I always find a destination that I would rather go so I don’t fight it. The Lofoten Islands was an easy choice.7F067640-2276-4639-B805-8FF892FB37B9.jpeg
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

  15. #15
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    Sounds like you got lots of good answers. I live in Florida and my upper limit that I will drive will be Bland, VA. I have done three section hikes by flying up North so far. There are many options that aren't that hard to get to.

    Here is a list that I can think of:
    --High Pt State Park - Fly to Newark, NJ transit to Port Jervis, Uber
    --Harriman State Park - Fly to Newark, NJ transit to Port Jervis, very short Uber
    --Bear Mt - Fly to Newark or JFK, Metro North to Peekskill, short Uber (did this)
    --Pawling, Fly to Newark or JFK, Metro North to trail stop (did this twice)
    --Great Barrington or Lee, Mass, Fly to Albany, shuttle to trail (did this using Vic LaPort 413-664-6203)
    --Dalton, North Adams, Bennington, Fly to Albany, shuttle
    --Rutland, VT. Amtrak goes here, Fly to Albany or Newark
    --Hanover, Fly to Boston, bus to here (will do in July)
    --Lincoln, NH, bus to/from Boston (did this, and will do in July)
    --Gorham, NH bus to/from Boston (did this)

    It gets harder in Maine, and others have already addressed this. It is very possible to do shorter trips especially if you are *not* retired like me. It does take some planning, but I find that fun. I like to use FF miles to buy my tickets. My next trip flying will be West Hartford , VT to Lincoln, NH with my daughter in 6 days this July.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr115 View Post
    I live in Al and the drive is starting to get longer. I have made it to Woods Hole in Va. I
    was told, at this point, (7-8 hr drive), many consider flying/shuttle service.
    Is this logistically difficult to set up?
    Will drivers pick up/take back to airport?
    As i get further north, i know i will have to learn how to do this eventually...
    thanks for any advise
    -sloan

    Commuting to the trail is a subject that you will get many different, but solid answers for. It boils down to how much time you have to hike, vs travel. If you are a retired individual with no schedule, a 18 hour drive 1 way is no big deal. If you only get 1 week of vacation a year your time is precious. I can relate to the latter. I now get 3 weeks of vacation a year but had to put my time in. All the same, I rather be in the woods then in a car so I drew the line at Duncannon, PA. I drove to Pen Mar, and walked to Duncannon, and on the drive home I decided that any further north then 8 hours away and I would fly. Now that I have gotten pretty use to the rigmarole of flying, I would actually cut that back to about 6 hours away. Its just a lot easier in my opinion, and I get to enjoy myself along the way.

    Price point can be just as affordable as driving there when you figure up what your time is worth.

    As for getting picked up from the airport, I have now flown to 4 hiking trips and have had to rent a car zero times. I have used shuttle drivers, hotel bus rides from airports, Dartmouth Coach Bus, Ubers, taxis and lift. All without a hitch. No pun intended....You are 7.5 hours away from Woods Hole, VA and I would say that is an appropriate distance to fly to the trail...I might drive it one more time but I don't know how long your trips are. If I was going to be out there for a week I would probably drive 1 more trip, if I was going to be out for more then a week I would drive.
    Last edited by Gambit McCrae; 02-11-2019 at 12:39.

  17. #17

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    I'd also rather drive, unless it's well over 10 hours. For both ease and cost.
    The logistical issues are not near worth it for me to fly somewhere I can drive in 7 or 8 hours

    Transit to/from airports, getting to the airport early, coordinating more shuttles, and little things like having to stop and get fuel, make the time gains seem minimal or non-existent. Unless your section is starting somewhere ideally suited and you're right near a good airport.

  18. #18

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    Driving also opens up the option of slackpacking by keyswapping if there are two hikers that don't need to be joined at the hip. I have run into folks who do this with rentals. With a good set of maps its not that hard to find those remote road crossings. I did Springer to Fontana Dam in the Smokies this way. There was only one forest service road crossing south of Deep Gap that we could not drive up to. In that case we parked about 1/2 mile west of the AT near the last house on the road and walked up to the gap as the road was in crappy condition for a Honda Civic. There was some signs of traffic at the Gap so expect we just used a bit of caution. I would drop my friend at a road crossing and he would hike south with a daypack, I then drove south to the next trail crossing that lines up with 14 to 16 trail miles. I would hike north and meet him heading the opposite direction heading south. We would have lunch and I will fill him in on any issues with the drive down. He would end up at the car and then would drive north to get me. Sometimes we stayed in Hostels, motels or on occasion we would just do a short hike into a shelter as many of the shelters are easily accessed off of forest service roads. There are few stretches in New England that are longer than a day, notably Glastonbery in VT, the Whites and Mahoosucs in NH, and several sections in Maine. Even in places where the road does not directly cross the AT there are frequently blue blazed trails. I have slacked sections of the AT in the Whites many times and have slacked the Mahooscus.

  19. #19
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    I live outside of Baltimore and have hiked down to Springer and up to Hanover. I drove to each hike. With the exception of Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York all the other miles have been on weekends. I left after work on Friday, got to the trailhead in the wee hours, caught a few hours sleep, and got picked up by a shuttle driver. Sunday afternoons I drove back to Baltimore. It was exhausting, and let's just say I know every damn stop on I-81. I liked controlling my schedule, and just came to view the drive as part of the hike. The downside was putting 50k miles on my car in two years. I have just Hanover to Katahdin and will probably drive. My car's nickname is Sherpa, for obvious reasons.

  20. #20
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    I'm about to hit that point too. From Raleigh, NC, the furthest I've driven to finish the southern half of the trail was 8 hours to Springer. I can as far as DWG in PA keeping it under 8 hours, but after that the drives are going to keep getting longer and longer.

    My plan is to keep driving, but instead of taking two 1-week trips to the AT each year I'll take one 2-week trip.

    It really comes down to personal preference - for me, getting into my car after a week on the trail is a lot less of a shock than going to a busy airport. I also prefer to take 2-lane roads to/from the trail instead of the interstate. US Hwy 15 through central VA is a nice, scenic drive, and it actually doesn't take much longer than going I-95. That may change once I get further north and the drives turn into 12+ hours.
    It's all good in the woods.

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