The Appalachian Trail: 3 Expert Tips to Help Prepare for Your Section Hike

Professional guides share their top tips to help you prepare for your hike


In the 1920s, Benton MacKaye set out to develop a series of work, education and agriculture camps throughout the Appalachian Mountains with trails connecting each.

Today, we know this 2,180-mile trek as the Appalachian Trail. Approximately 2,000 thru-hikers attempt the AT each year. On average, only 1 in 4 succeed.

If you don’t have six months to conquer the whole trail but crave a taste, you can opt to traverse a portion of the trail and become a section hiker.

Discover Outdoors, provides an opportunity to hike one such section of the Appalachian Trail led by trained, experienced guides. Check out these three important tips from our professional guide team on how to prepare for this unforgettable five-day journey across New York State.

Related: How to Choose a Hiking Guide

Pack through the Park
Day one of your Appalachian Trail section hike should not be your first toting a backpack. To prepare your body, find the right pack and take it for multiple test drives around your block, local park, or even wear it around your home. Adjust the settings so that it fits snuggly without being uncomfortable, and spend an hour or more walking with the pack before you set off for the trail.

Lace Up
Your feet were made for this kind of trek. They are cushiony, tough and after years in loafers, heels and sneaks, yearning to be calloused. Before you take them for a 65-mile stroll, break in the right hiking boot. Every foot is different so there’s no right or wrong hiking boot. Consult a professional on the right flexibility, ankle height and size for your stature and gate and remember that giving your toes a little more room for flexibility and hiking socks can help.

Related: The Best Hiking Boots of 2014

Rest and Hydrate
When you get right down to it, nothing beats a steady diet of rest and water while training. Whether you’re a professional hiker, marathoner or casual camper, spending 6 to 8 hours a day on the trails will test your endurance. Carry a water bottle around with you so that it’s easy to hydrate throughout the day, and in the week leading up to the hike, sleep, sleep, sleep.  

If you are looking for your next adventure, trekking through nature with guidance from pros and support from your team sounds ideal. You will see New York like most never do. Be as prepared as possible so that you can make the most of this unforgettable Appalachian Trail hike. 

Find more from the Discover Outdoors team here.

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