11 Things to Know Before Hiking Appalachian Trail Alone

Hiking Appalachian trail alone

If you are wondering about hiking the Appalachian trail alone, then you are at the right place. This article is all about how to hike the Appalachian trail alone and is hiking the Appalachian trail alone is ok?. If these are some questions that are going in your head then, don’t worry I will cover all the necessary details that you should know before hiking Appalachian trail alone. 

There may be many reasons why someone is deciding to hike alone Appalachian trail, the number is that your friends are not free. The second one is, that you want to experience nature on your own. If you love to hike alone then I assume that you already had an experience of hiking alone. If you never hiked alone anywhere then, it becomes very important for you to consider some things and pack yourself with the right gear and information. 

So, let’s go on the journey of hiking the Appalachian trail alone. 

First, let’s find out is it ok to hike the Appalachian Trail alone? 

Yes, you can hike the Appalachian Trail alone by packing yourself with the right gear, staying alert all the time, and last but not least by maintaining space from the people you feel a threat to. For better security, you should always know to stay in contact with the ranger Station. 

Now, let’s find out how you can hike the Appalachian Trail alone. Below are the main key points that you need to remember while hiking the Appalachian trail alone. 

Hiking Appalachian trail alone: Things to know

Though hiking the Appalachian trail is not dangerous or harmful in any way. But you never know when someones see you as an opportunity in their favor. Many people have hiked the Appalachian trail alone, and most of them are successful Because they were alert and informed all the time.

You will meet many people thought out your journey that seems very humble and nice and it is where you need to be extra alert because trusting someone when you hiking alone is the worst mistake you can make. 

Read about the Appalachian trail

Starting from Georgia and ending in Maine, the Appalachian Trail is 2,180 miles long. The idea of making this longest walk path came into the minds of private citizens. They started executing the plan in 1921 and in 1937 the Appalachian Trail was ready to be conquered by hikers all over the world. 

The Appalachian trail takes you through the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and cultural lands in the deep mountains. There are so many things that make this trail so popular and amazing. 

This is the longest trail, and it is not easy to maintain this trail without the help of multiple authorities. Appalachian Trail is managed by the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, numerous state agencies, and thousands of volunteers

Prepare yourself in advance

If you are trying to hike the Appalachian trail alone, then first thing is to prepare yourself in advance. What I mean by that is to prepare yourself mentally in advance.

If you are on Trail alone, and out of blue a dangerous situation arises, then you might not see any ranger nearby to help you. If you are out of luck, then your signal also might not work because it is very normal to have a bad signal on the Appalachian Trail. 

So, what should you do? Well, in situations like these, you should trust your instincts and take decisions smartly. If you plan this type of situation in advance you will be more clear about your decision and calmer at the same time. 

Be informed

There are some things that you must know if you are planning to hike the Appalachian trail alone. Being educated about the trail is one thing by which you can reduce the chances of you getting trapped in any unwanted situation. 

Related – Is it weird to hike alone? 

Stay alert

If you are hiking alone, then the most important thing is staying alert. Always keep your eyes on your surroundings. If you see any red zone, stay away from it, if you don’t like the vibe of people around you, maintain the distance as early as possible. 

Always know that avoiding danger is easy, than getting out of it.

Contact authorities in case of danger

If you feel something is wrong with the people around you then you should contact the local law enforcement and ATC immediately. It doesn’t matter if any crime is committed or not, if you feel something is up, then it is best to inform the authorities. 

As soon as you inform them, they become alert, and this way you can prevent anything bad to happen. 

In case of any crime, like – robbery, beating, etc. You should contact 191. Do this immediately after the situation. If you don’t have a phone then, ask some group or person for help. There are plenty of nice people out on the trail who are happy to help you. 

Always inform someone before starting

This is the initial step toward hiking alone. If you are hiking only for one day then you should always inform a close one about it. Let them know your return time and the name of the exact trail you are going to hike.

If your plan is to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, Register your trail entry always – In case of any emergency it is easier to find a victim if he used the trail and shelter registers. Always mention your entry and exit in the register.

Don’t tell others on trail you are alone

By telling people you are hiking the Appalachian trail alone, you just attract thieves and compound your danger. People see you as easy prey when you tell them that you are alone. This is very important if you are a woman. Never tell anyone that you are hiking alone, always use the word we, instead of I. 

If you see uneasy people on the trail, maintain a good distance from them. If you see someone following you or trying to be near you, contact the local law enforcement and ATC immediately. 

For security get along with people or groups you feel secure with. But at the same time don’t be easy, always stay alert. 

Carry a map with you

If you are hiking alone it is important that you carry a map with you. Most of the time the signals are dead on the Appalachian trail, and relying only on a phone is a bad idea, especially if you are alone.

A map can help you to get to the nearest town or road in case you get lost alone in an unknown place. 

Avoid carrying too much money

Save yourself from thieves and robberies that can take place on AT trail. Carry the amount according to your budget and keep it short and well hidden.

Similarly, if you are carrying credit cards keep them in a well-hidden space. Never bring jewelry to the Appalachian trail if you are hiking alone, this will make you prey to many thieves and to people. 

Moreover, make sure to not leave any important cards or valuable things in a vehicle at the trailhead. 

Don’t camp near trailheads and near roads

You need to be extra alert near trailheads and roads as the chances of crime are very high at these places. If you are at the trailhead, then make sure you start your hike as early as possible without waiting there for hours.

Don’t park your car in a parking lot that seems problematic. Moreover, take a look at your surroundings before you park your car. See the people, if they give you weird gazes or vibes, don’t park your car there and leave that area as soon as possible. 


Don’t accept rides easily 

If you are hiking the Appalachian trail then you are going to land in metro places where you might think of taking a ride such as a taxi. If you are hiking alone then make sure you are always alert about situations where someone is offering you a ride. 

If you are hiking alone, my advice is to avoid taking a ride as that can lead to an unwanted situation. Even if you plan to get inside the ride, make sure to analyze everything from vehicle condition to driver behavior. There are a few things that you want to do before you even get into the ride. 

  • First, always maintain a distance from the ride, so that nobody can push you into the ride. 
  • Second thing is to note the number, color, and model of a taxi or particular vehicle. If the signal is working, then take a send the number of a taxi to your family member so that they know in case anything happens to you. 

Carry the right gear

Always pack yourself the right gear with you whenever you are hiking. You need to be more prepared and packed with gear when you are hiking alone. On top of that, you also have to maintain the weight of the backpack and gear. 

You need to carry normal gear whenever you are going on the Appalachian Trail. Just like another you need, a tent, sleeping bag Or sleeping quilt, hiking boots, food, etc. For more information check this article- Gear guide for Appalachian Trail

The only thing you need to consider is if you want to take a tent with you or not. If you want to stay in a shelter by paying some money then you can save the hustle of carrying a tent.

Secondly, you need to consider how you are going to tackle the bugs and the diseases that they spread. Though most hikers neglect this. But diseases like malaria are very common on the Appalachian Trail. 

Further, Norovirus is another disease which very contagious and common on AT trail. It happens when a person comes in contact with an infected person or contaminated food. 

Symptoms of Norovirus are – vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping.

To avoid this, use biodegradable soap to wash your hands before eating anything, treat the water, and don’t use any shared utensils or eat shared food. 

Hiking Appalachian alone as a women

There is no fear in hiking Appalachian trail alone if you are a woman according to women who have already conquered the trail. But just like any male hiker, women should also be alert and keep their eyes and ears open because you can not trust anyone at all. 

There are three things you need to remember if you are hiking alone. Firstly, stay alert and communicate less with strangers, though you can say hi Or hello. Never get excited about telling people everything about you. Don’t forget to use we instead of I

Lastly, make sure to camp away from the trailhead Or road. 

You will meet very kind people thorough your journey on the Appalachian Trail. But you will never know their true intentions. So, make sure you update your location to any close one and follow the steps described above. 

Hiking Appalachian Trail with a dog

You can hike the Appalachian trail with a dog except for The Great Smoky Mountains and The Baxter State Park. Besides these two places, you can hike with a dog anywhere you want on the Appalachian Trail. 

Though the issue may seem little. But when you hike with a dog, responsibility increases. While many want to hike with a dog because they are solo hiking the Appalachian Trail.

But if your purpose is this then don’t take a dog with you as it rarely provides you any security from the thieves or dangers that are present on the trail. But if you want to hike with your dog because you can not leave him behind alone, then check out this article for full guide –  hike the Appalachian trail with a dog