Best of the Appalachian Trail: Overnight Hikes

Best of the Appalachian Trail: Overnight Hikes


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Your Comprehensive Guide to the AT’s Best Overnight Hikes

From Maine to Georgia, the nearly 2,200-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail is an iconic destination. Whether you’re an experienced backpacker or a casual explorer, let Best of the Appalachian Trail: Overnight Hikes guide you along the way. Traverse Virginia’s Three Ridges, enjoy North Carolina’s Mount Cammerer Loop, and summit Vermont’s Killington Peak. Appalachian Trail experts Leonard M. Adkins and Victoria and Frank Logue have carefully selected their top 64 hikes—ranging from 10 to 30 miles—and present them for you to experience and enjoy.

Trail difficulty ratings and profiles, which include point-by-point descriptions of each hike, help to prepare you for what’s ahead. Trailhead maps and driving directions are provided to get you where you need to go. Plus, fascinating flora, fauna, and history tidbits entertain and educate you along all 64 hikes throughout the 14 states of the AT. Discover the best overnight hikes in this useful guide to the beloved long trail.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781634041478
Publisher: Menasha Ridge Press
Publication date: 08/21/2018
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 244,868
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Leonard M. Adkins has been intimately involved with the Appalachian Trail for several decades. He has hiked its full length five times and lacks just a few hundred miles to complete it for a sixth. He has maintained a section of the Trail near McAfee Knob and was a ridgerunner for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. He has also served as an A.T. Natural Heritage Site Monitor, aiding the conservancy and the National Park Service in overseeing the welfare of rare and endangered plants. In addition, he has served on the boards of directors of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club. Among other long-distance trails Leonard has completed are the Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico, the Pacific Northwest Trail from Glacier National Park to the Pacific Ocean, and the Pyrenees High Route along the border of France and Spain. In all, he has walked more than 20,000 miles exploring the backcountry areas of the United States, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and the Caribbean.

Leonard is the author of 20 books on travel and the outdoors. His Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail was presented the National Outdoor Book Award, while The Appalachian Trail: A Visitor’s Companion received the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award. He has also written more than 200 articles for magazines such as Blue Ridge Country , Backpacker , Islands , The Roanoker , and Blue Ridge Outdoors. Along with his thru-hiking wife, Laurie, he lives in Virginia, within easy striking distance of the A.T. You may learn more about his adventures at

Victoria and Frank Logue hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 1988 and have returned again and again to hike its many sections on day and overnight hikes. Frank has also served on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Board of Managers. In addition, they have continued to hike out west and abroad, including Israel, Jordan, France, Italy, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, and England. They live in Georgia, where Frank works as an Episcopal priest and as an assistant to the bishop of Georgia. Victoria, a writer of fiction and nonfiction, recently published her fourth novel. Currently, they love visiting and hiking with their daughter, Griffin, in Arizona.

Read an Excerpt


MODERATE / 23.7-mile traverse

On this hike, you will be traversing an intermountain range section as the A.T. makes its way from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the Green Mountains of Vermont. The elevations along this hike are not that extreme, between 1,500 and 2,500 feet above sea level, but there are plenty of ups and downs along the way.

You will enjoy fine views at Lakota Lake Lookout, pass the beautiful Kent Pond, and cross a portion of Gifford Woods State Park. The state park is along a major migratory bird flyway, and bird watchers flock to the park in the spring and fall to see the varied birds that use it as a rest area during their migration. The park also boasts a virgin grove of forest made up largely of sugar maples.

There is an optional side trip near the end of this hike. The Deer Leap Trail climbs to the top of Deer Leap Cliffs and affords outstanding views of Sherburne Pass and its surrounding peaks.


From the trailhead on VT 12, follow the A.T. south. At mile 1.2, enjoy good views from an open ridgetop (Mount Ascutney is to the south). At mile 2.2 and mile 3.0, cross old roadbeds. At mile 3.8, reach the 0.2-mile side trail to Wintturi Shelter. Water is available from a small spring near the shelter.

The Trail then ascends more steeply as you continue to climb over and down Sawyer Hill. At mile 5.1, the A.T. turns right onto King Cabin Road. In another 0.2 mile, the Trail turns off the road—watch for the turn.

At mile 6.2, reach the junction with the Lookout Spur Trail. This side trail ascends 0.1 mile to the Lookout, a private cabin that has an observation deck available to hikers. It overlooks one of the best views on the hike. Continue following the A.T. for 1.7 miles to reach the Lakota Lake Lookout. There are good views of the lake as well as the surrounding countryside, while the White Mountains appear in the distance.

For the next several miles, you will be following a ridge with occasional knobs to climb. Cross Locust Creek and Chateauguay Road at mile 9.0, and pass a small pond at mile 11.0. The end of the ridge is descended by way of switchbacks.

Cross Mink Brook, then Stony Brook, and reach Stony Brook Road at mile 12.9 and begin climbing steadily. At 13.7 miles, reach the short side trail to Stony Brook Shelter. Reach the top of a ridge and cross a shoulder of Quimby Mountain on the way to the highest point of the hike, an unnamed mountain (elevation 2,640') at mile 15.6. Descend steeply on switchbacks to a ridge and cross under power lines, where there are good views from the power line right-of-way. Climb to another unnamed point and descend gradually and hike to a viewpoint from an old logging road at mile 17.2.

At mile 18.0, cross gravel River Road and reach the boardwalk over the headwaters of the Ottauquechee River, with views east and west. In 0.2 mile, a spur trail leads 200 feet to Thundering Falls. Cross Thundering Brook Road at 18.5 miles. The A.T. climbs gradually over a hill and rejoins the road again in 1.2 miles. The Mountain Meadows Lodge is to your left just after you pass the dam for Kent Pond. As you follow the shoreline, you will pass a swimming area and cross Kent Brook.

At mile 20.4, the A.T. joins VT 100 for a short distance before turning off the highway into Gifford Woods State Park. Shelters and tent sites are available for rent. The A.T. winds its way through the park, passing the caretaker’s house, showers, camping area, and more. Beyond the park, the A.T. ascends, sometimes steeply, and reaches the junction with the Sherburne Pass Trail at mile 21.8, a former route of the A.T., which descends 0.5 mile to US 4 in Sherburne Pass.

Continue on the A.T. to the western intersection with the Deer Leap Trail. This pathway climbs sharply 0.6 mile to the top of Deer Leap Cliffs for an outstanding view of Sherburne Pass and surrounding peaks before continuing for another 1.3 miles to rejoin the A.T. farther south. If you decide to take this side route, you will only add about 1.9 miles to the hike as the Deer Leap Trail comes to its eastern junction with the A.T. at mile 22.6. From that intersection, it is only 0.1 mile to Maine Junction at Willard Gap. Here, the A.T. and the Long Trail (L.T.) go south and share the same pathway to the Vermont–Massachusetts state line; the L.T. also heads north to the Canadian border. Continue following the A.T. and descend to US 4 at mile 23.7.


Western trailhead: From I-89, take Exit 1 (US 4/Woodstock Road). Turn left onto US 4 West, and drive about 10.3 miles to Woodstock. Bear left to stay on US 4 West, and drive 22.6 miles to the signed trailhead parking area, on your left.

Eastern trailhead: Backtrack east on US 4 for 20.1 miles, and then turn left onto Prosper Road. In 2.3 miles, turn left onto VT 12/Barnard Road; then, in 0.6 mile, look carefully for the trailhead parking on your left—the entrance is at an opening in the guardrail, and a trailhead kiosk is located at the gravel parking area. Note: If you reach On the Edge Farmstand on your left, you’ve gone 0.2 mile too far.


N43° 40.015' W72° 51.024' (western trailhead)

N43° 39.300' W72° 33.968' (eastern trailhead)

Table of Contents




  • Rainbow Lake
  • Nahmakanta Lake to Abol Bridge
  • Cooper Pond to Nahmakanta Stream
  • Barren–Chairback Range
  • Little Wilson and Big Wilson Falls
  • Moxie Bald, Bald Mountain, and Horseshoe Canyon
  • Bigelow Range Loop
  • Saddleback Range
  • Hike of the Five Ponds
  • Bemis Range Loop
  • The Baldpates
  • Mahoosuc Range

New Hampshire

  • Gentian Pond
  • The Northern Presidential Range
  • Zealand Falls, Ethan Pond, and Webster Cliffs
  • Franconia Ridge and Lonesome Lake
  • Western New Hampshire


  • Eastern Vermont
  • Pico Peak
  • Killington Peak
  • Little Rock Pond to Clarendon Gorge
  • Stratton Mountain and Lye Brook Wilderness Loop


  • Mount Greylock Loop
  • Finerty Pond to Benedict Pond
  • Jug End, Mount Everett, and Sages Ravine


  • Housatonic River to Ten Mile Hill

New York

  • Shenandoah Mountain to Bear Mountain Inn
  • Harriman State Park

New Jersey

  • Pochuck Crossing and Wallkill Valley
  • Kittatinny Mountains
  • Delaware Water Gap and Kittatinny Mountains


  • Wind Gap to Delaware Water Gap
  • Blue Mountain
  • The Pinnacles and Pulpit Rock
  • Hawk Rock and the Cumberland Valley
  • South Mountain


  • Annapolis Rock to Pen Mar Park

West Virginia and Virginia

  • South and North Marshall Loop
  • Stony Man and Big Meadows
  • Southern Shenandoah
  • Mill Creek and Humpback Mountain
  • Three Ridges Loop
  • Bald Knob to The Priest
  • Thunder Hill to Jennings Creek
  • Dragons Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs
  • Angels Rest and Dismal Creek Falls
  • Virginia Highlands Traverse
  • Fairwood Valley and Mount Rogers Loop

Tennessee and North Carolina

  • Iron Mountain Traverse
  • Grassy Ridge and The Humps Traverse
  • Bald Mountains
  • State Line Traverse
  • Max Patch and Hot Springs
  • Mount Cammerer Loop
  • Mount Collins and Clingmans Dome
  • Russell Field, Spence Field, and Rocky Top Loop
  • Northern Nantahala Traverse
  • Wayah Bald and Siler Bald
  • Standing Indian Loop


  • Tray Mountain Wilderness
  • Tesnatee Gap to Woody Gap
  • Blood Mountain Loop
  • Woody Gap and Springer Mountain
  • Springer Mountain and Three Forks Loop

Appendix: Trail-Maintenance Clubs


About the Authors

About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

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