Where Do You Sleep on the Appalachian Trail?

November 3, 2023

The Appalachian Trail is a 2,200-mile footpath that traverses through stunning natural corridors across the United States. It is one of the world’s longest hiking-only footpaths, spanning from Georgia to Maine. Its combination of wilderness, history, community and legend have given it iconic status.

The trail has many places to sleep, including wooden trail shelters and campsites. These are typically located on or near the trail and have a fire pit, picnic table, and a water source. Some also have bear boxes or pulley systems for storing food bags.

If you camp, make sure to follow the “Leave No Trace” code of conduct to minimize your impact on the ecosystem. In addition, be aware of the potential for wildlife such as black bears and snakes. If you encounter a snake, remain calm and back away slowly. Do not agitate it as this could lead to an attack.

There are more than 250 backcountry shelters along the Appalachian Trail. On average, you’ll run into a shelter every 8.5 miles. However, they may be closer or farther apart depending on the terrain and if there’s a town with lodging in between. Some shelters have a capacity of up to eight people, while others are smaller. In addition to a sleeping area, the shelter usually has a broom and a place for hikers to sign the trail register. It’s customary for thru-hikers to leave a trail journal entry about their journey. The McAfee’s Knob shelter is a popular stop for thru-hikers as it marks the half-way point of their trek.

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