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  1. #1
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    Default New Hiker Seeking Good Advice

    I am a novice hiker who has done some short 2-4 hour hikes in Colorado, Utah, and some in Texas but never an overnight hiking trip. I am looking for a hike on the AT in June where my 20-year old daughter and I can string together 2.5 - 3 days of hiking with two overnight camping stops. My research tells me to plan on 5-7 miles a day because we are new, so a 15-20 mile distance -- while short to most here -- would seem ideal to me (?). We would be going in early to mid-June, so my first thought of Georgia -- because it is flat and less crowded at that point -- would be pretty warm in June. I am looking for a good stretch without radical elevation gains ideally with a town at either end of the 15-20 mile hike.

    At this point, I don't know what I don't know. I was looking at Lions Head to Bear Mountain in CT with a 1500 ft elevation change, but that is only 8.2 miles out and back. I'll do more digging, but with over 2000 miles to explore I was hoping to get a nudge towards a few possible hikes. My ultimate goal is to hike the entire AT over the rest of my lifetime, but I don't want to overdo it with the first one.

    Thanks for any thoughts that will help me formulate a plan.

  2. #2

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    Georgia is anything but flat!

    The Shenandoah NP is one of your better options. It's a little bumpy too, but well graded. The logistics are easy. Each section of the AT has it's own unique challenges.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  3. #3
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Georgia isn't as flat hiking compared to the mid-Atlantic states, MD through CT. But the trail goes up and down pretty much everywhere, so unless you're in really bad shape, I wouldn't make it a concern. You are probably a bit over-conservative on the 5-7 miles per day. You'll likely do 8 to 12 without too much problem. If you're like my daughter and I, she'll wait for you at the tops of hills Parts of Shenandoah Nat. Park (SNP) would make a nice first hike. There are enough side trails as well that you could make a loop on some trails with nice waterfalls. The downside is that it's not as remote as many other sections as it parallels the Skyline Drive roadway, and June will have thru-hiker traffic all though northern VA. The upside is blackberry milkshakes (and other food) at the wayside restaurants. But, realistically, almost anywhere south of VT would be okay in early June. Logistics are important on shorter hikes - it's nice to make a loop hike using different trails when possible to return to the car, but out and backs are okay. Transport to from airports and such is also often a consideration. Weekends will be more crowded almost everywhere.

  4. #4
    Registered User tunnelbear's Avatar
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    For what it is worth, for my first overnight AT trip a few years ago, I took a shuttle to Max Patch and hiked back to my car at Hot Springs, NC (about 20 miles) in mid-June. I spent parts of three days and two nights on the trail at Walnut Mountain and Deer Park shelters with a quick morning hike into Hot Springs the last day. It doesn't meet the "relatively flat" criteria with a climb up Bluff Mountain, but it made for a "doable" first-trip. Hot Springs is a great trail town.

  5. #5
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Yeah I would third the snp idea , it really would make a great first AT hike. Like 4eyebuzzard said you could make a loop hike instead of out and back, get some variety in with the waterfalls side trails and burgers and fries and blackberrie milkshakes at the way sides. Or y'all could do the whole state of md. It's 40 miles from hf to penmar park pretty flat lots of shelters, water. Totally doable in 3 days and y'all can say you've completed a state on the AT!

  6. #6
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    And after all we are talking June, long days 15,16 hrs daylight? Even 1 mph taking your time enjoying, taking picture's,
    Taking breaks, in these places 10-12 miles a day go by fairly quickly.

    I see you're 50 and daughter is 20 , if you're not in shape you have time to get in this kind of shape. You have 4 months and what y'all are trying do isn't to crazy.

  7. #7
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    Mid-June is peak time for the rhododendron bloom in the Roan Mountain area. It's high elevation, but not overly strenuous climbing, and the rewards are great!

  8. #8

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    If you are not married to the AT, there is a trail in PA called the Allegheny Front Trail (AFT). it is 42 miles and perfectly circles Black Moshannon state park. There are cross-hair trails that bisect the loop so you can do much smaller loops, leaving your car in the SP, dead center. There is a small town 15 minutes from the SP. Wherever you go, I'd do a shake down overnighter first. You don't want to commit to 3 days with zero overnight experience.

  9. #9
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    Not sure how far you are willing to travel but there are some very nice sections in Vermont and New Hampshire. Bourn Pond off the LT/AT near Manchester Center Vermont is very pretty and usually quiet or the Ethans Pond area at Mount Wiley in New Hampshire is quite nice with lots of side trails.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the great ideas. Roan Mt was one I had researched a bit. SNP looks promising based on multiple suggestions, and I really like the Maryland idea. You have given me plenty to consider. Thank you so much for all of the ideas! What a great community.

  11. #11
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    One last option: the Standing Indian Loop.
    Fly into ATL or drive to Standing Indian Campground, just west of Franklin NC and park either near campground store or on road near Rock Gap Shelter..
    Hike the @5 mile Kimsey Creek trail from SI campground to intercept the AT at Deep Gap (mm 84.8).
    Hike north to near Rock Gap Shelter (mm 105.4) and your car/shuttle.
    Highlight is Albert Mountain firetower view.
    Makes for a good @25 mile hike/2-3 day adventure.

  12. #12

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    I don’t think it matters where you go, but who you’re with!! You’ll be making memories! Good on you for harnessing this!

  13. #13

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    I second Standing Indian Loop.

  14. #14
    Registered User NY HIKER 50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Georgia is anything but flat!

    The Shenandoah NP is one of your better options. It's a little bumpy too, but well graded. The logistics are easy. Each section of the AT has it's own unique challenges.
    Do you mean like the signs that you come to that say 5 miles or 8 miles when you get to the road crossings and its
    mote like 20 miles? Everyone was talking about that one.

  15. #15

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    If you've never backpacked at all, you might want to consider doing an overnight somewhere local to figure out your gear

  16. #16
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    All these trails are great recommends. Pls keep in mind the east vs the west where you have been hiking. It can be really humid. So plan to be sweaty and if you have a week in mid June where you are not, count your blessings. Nights can be cooler. Have fun.

  17. #17
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    Thumbs up Short Trips First

    Quote Originally Posted by Hikingjim View Post
    If you've never backpacked at all, you might want to consider doing an overnight somewhere local to figure out your gear
    Agreed. I took a hike two weekends back in the rain with a 2/3 full pack to test the weighting, try out the rain gear, and to see what distance seemed feasible. I didn't start until late (2 pm) and with a lot of stops for flooded trails I did about 2.2 mph without a problem. I definitely want to do an overnight this coming weekend to see how things go.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by smithjv View Post
    One last option: the Standing Indian Loop.
    Fly into ATL or drive to Standing Indian Campground, just west of Franklin NC and park either near campground store or on road near Rock Gap Shelter..
    Hike the @5 mile Kimsey Creek trail from SI campground to intercept the AT at Deep Gap (mm 84.8).
    Hike north to near Rock Gap Shelter (mm 105.4) and your car/shuttle.
    Highlight is Albert Mountain firetower view.
    Makes for a good @25 mile hike/2-3 day adventure.
    Oooooooh! I like this idea, too. The round trip nature of it would be great. Thank you for (another) great idea!

  19. #19
    Registered User kestral's Avatar
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    The standing Indian loop is great, I really enjoyed it. Keep a plan b in your pocket, if the weather is horrible with severe heat or rain maybe a flex 300 miles up trail (Shenandoah, great Smoky Mountains) is a better go. A one in twenty possibility of holding up in a hotel and dayhiking, pubcrawling is sometimes the appropriate choice if weather is hellacious when you are taking out a newbie. Type 1 fun (FUN!) is great, type 2 ( fun in retrospect) appreciated, don’t want type 3 (that just sucked).

    have a great time on your first of many hikes ��

  20. #20

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    If you're open to anything outside the AT, I recommend the Zion Traverse, or at least hike half of it. You can start at Lee Pass (Kolob Canyon) and hike to the main canyon, easy three day hike, logistics are not difficult to manage either. Plus, you can take the park shuttle out of the main canyon back to Springdale. You would get to see parts of Zion NP that many visitors never get to see or experience. Whatever your choice, best wishes and have a blast.
    "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change". Charles Darwin

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