Hiking the Appalachian Trail #1

August 28 – September 12, 2021 • 16 Days • $4550

Featuring walks in 14 different states along the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia.

NOTE: This is the 1st of two departures for Hiking the Appalachian Trail. Click here to view the itinerary for Hiking the Appalachian Trail #2.

Tour Type: Volkssport

Including:

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Hotel to airport shuttle on first/last day
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • 8 meals: all breakfasts as denoted (B)
  • 15 walks sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association on the Appalachian Trail in each state that we pass through (14 on the Appalachian Trail in each of 14 states plus 1 at Gettysburg, PA)
  • Fees for walking credit
  • WAI guide throughout
  • All tipping for coach driver and any local guides
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $975. We provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Activities & Visits:

  • Piazza Rock (ME)
  • Dartmouth College (NH)
  • Thundering Falls & Gifford Woods State Park (VT)
  • The Cobbles (MA)
  • West Point Military Academy Tour (NY)
  • Bear Mountain & Fort Montgomery (NY)
  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (PA/NJ)
  • Gettysburg National Military Park (PA)
  • Guided tour of Gettysburg National Military Park (PA)
  • Washington Monument State Park (MD)
  • Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park (WV)
  • Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s Home) Group Tour (VA)
  • Virginia Creeper Trail (VA)
  • Laurel Falls (TN)
  • Davy Crockett State Park (TN)
  • Andrew Johnson National Historic Site (TN)
  • More fun stops than we can list!

Northern Appalachian Map

Southern Appalachian Map

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Contact Us

Important Info

Group Size

12-18 travelers.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Transportation

Included. 12 to 18 travelers are on a motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 50+

Airfare

Not included. Travelers fly into Portland, Maine, and home from Atlanta, Georgia.

Hotels

Strategically located Superior Tourist Class hotels or better

Meals

Most breakfasts (due to Covid-19 concerns, no group meals are included–when possible, optional group meals may be offered)

Itinerary

Click on each day to reveal more details. (B) refers to Breakfasts included.

Day 1-August 28: Arrive Portland, ME

With fourteen states of the Appalachian Trail on the horizon, travelers arrive today into Maine’s Portland International Jetport (PWM). Our starting hotel is conveniently located near the airport and can be reached using an included hotel shuttle. We plan to have a short meeting this evening at the hotel to meet fellow hikers and go over the adventure game plan.

Day 2-August 29: Portland, ME – Wilton, ME (B)

Maine Appalachian Trail Hike (Rangeley) – 5 or 10 km (3C)

Some of the toughest hiking on the Appalachian Trail is found in Maine, our northeastern most state, but luckily, we are taking on a section that, while challenging, won’t be overly difficult. For all Appalachian Trail hikes, those walking to receive AVA credit for this special program need to log at least 5 km on the trail in each state along the way. Our walk in the Rangeley area features a hike up to oddly-shaped Piazza Rock before descending to our motorcoach for our drive to Wilton and the conclusion of our first day along the amazing Appalachian Trail.

Day 3-August 30: Wilton, ME – West Lebanon, NH (B)

New Hampshire Appalachian Trail Hike (Hanover) – 5 km (2A) or 10 km (4D)

This morning begins with a lengthy drive as we journey from Maine into our second state of the adventure, New Hampshire. Today’s AT Trail activities begin in Hanover, on the western side of New Hampshire in the scenic Upper Connecticut River Valley. While a shorter 5 km walk is available, the 10 km (4D) trail is required to qualify for the Appalachian Trail Special Program. This longer trail includes easier sections through Hanover and on the campus of Dartmouth (established in 1769) before ascending on a significant climb with rough trail surfaces up to Velvet Rocks. Our day concludes in nearby West Lebanon.

Day 4-August 31: West Lebanon, NH – Killington, VT (B)

Vermont Appalachian Trail Hike (Killington) – 5 km (3B) or 10 km (3C)

Crossing over the Connecticut River this morning, we enter into Vermont, the second least populated state in the union and our third state of the adventure. Our Vermont walk starts with a bang as we gaze in wonder at Thundering Falls, a 140-foot cascade near Kent Pond, before we continue on a long uphill climb through old-growth forest along the Appalachian Trail to Gifford Woods State Park. A shorter and easier option is available for those who prefer to do less climbing. Our day concludes in the town of Killington.

Day 5-September 1: Killington, VT – Pittsfield, MA (B)

Massachusetts Appalachian Trail Hike (Cheshire) – 5 km or 10 km (4E)

From Vermont, our morning drive takes us south into Massachusetts. Though this is the most populous of the New England states, today’s hike takes us to the small town of Cheshire set in a valley along the Hoosic River. We will definitely earn our lunch today as the Appalachian Trail offers up steep and rugged terrain in this section. We allow plenty of time to account for the higher level in the trail’s physical challenge before continuing our southward journey to the town of Pittsfield.

Day 6-September 2: Pittsfield, MA – Danbury, CT

Connecticut Appalachian Trail Hike (Kent) – 5 km or 10 km (1B)

Today marks our last hike in the New England states as we stroll along the Housatonic River (Mohican word meaning “Land Beyond the Mountains”). The trail follows old farm paths and takes us through a second growth forest of sycamore, maple, and ash trees, on what is the longest level section of the entire Appalachian Trail. This evening we recharge our batteries in the town of Danbury, Connecticut.

Day 7-September 3: Danbury, CT – Chester, NY (B)

New York Appalachian Trail Hike (Bear Mountain/Fort Montgomery) – 5 km (1A) or 10 km (3C)

Our morning begins with a short drive across yet another state border, leading us to New York. History abounds during today’s hike as we explore the Appalachian Trail near Fort Montgomery, New York, scene of a fierce Revolutionary War battle for control of the Hudson River. In the afternoon, we explore West Point, our nation’s oldest military service academy, on a 2-hour bus and walking tour that brings to life over 200 years of traditions as well as stories of its graduates who have helped shape our nation. Our day concludes with a short drive and a relaxing evening in Chester.

Day 8-September 4: Chester, NY – Lehigh Valley, PA (B)

New Jersey Appalachian Trail Hike (Delaware Water Gap) – 5 km (1A) or 10 km (3D)

This morning brings us to our seventh state of the adventure, New Jersey. Our activities begin in the forested wonderland of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, where we hike along the Appalachian Trail in the Garden State. A relatively easy 5 km walk and a more challenging 10 km hike will be available here before we drive across one more border into Pennsylvania for a one-night stay in the town of Lehigh Valley.

NOTE: Travelers joining us for only the Southern half of Hiking the Appalachian Trail join us this evening in Lehigh Valley.

Day 9-September 5: Lehigh Valley, PA – Gettysburg, PA (B)

Gettysburg National Battlefield Walk – 5 km or 10 km (1A)

This morning, we take in the fertile landscape of Pennsylvania on our drive to Gettysburg, the first night on part two of our Appalachian Trail program. While no official Appalachian Trail hikes are planned today, our walk through the town and battlefield of Gettysburg will surely rank among the highlights of our adventure. The Union victory at Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War that came at a high price, being the bloodiest battle of the conflict. This place is also forever linked to Abraham Lincoln’s timeless words in which he honored the fallen who had given the “last full measure of devotion.” This gripping experience is made even more memorable by a guided tour through the battlefield with one of the excellent local guides.

NOTE: Travelers participating in only the Northern half of Hiking the Appalachian Trail leave us today from Lehigh Valley.

Day 10-September 6: Gettysburg, PA – Frederick, MD (B)

Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail Hike (PA-MD Border) – 5 km (3C)
Maryland Appalachian Trail Hike (Washington Monument State Park) – 5 km (3C)

Bidding farewell to historic Gettysburg, a two-state hiking day awaits us as we begin our activities exploring a Pennsylvania portion of the Appalachian Trail. For all Appalachian Trail hikes, those walking to receive AVA credit for this special program need to log at least 5 km on the trail in each state along the way. Following a lunch in Hagerstown, we spend an afternoon walking the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail at Washington Monument State Park, where a rugged stone tower was erected in 1827 as the first completed monument dedicated to the memory of George Washington. This evening we settle in at our hotel in the town of Frederick.

Day 11-September 7: Frederick, MD – Charlottesville, VA (B)

West Virginia Appalachian Trail Hike (Harpers Ferry) – 5 km (2B) or 10 km (3D)

Following a short drive, we arrive in West Virginia and spend a morning and early afternoon of hiking and exploring the Appalachian Trail and the charming, old town of Harpers Ferry. This multi-layered hamlet at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers has seen its fair share of history, including the arrival of the first successful American railroad, the apprehension of famed abolitionist John Brown by none other than Robert E. Lee, the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War, and the education of former slaves in one of the earliest integrated schools in the United States. Following an afternoon drive to the south, we spend this evening in the storied town of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Day 12-September 8: Charlottesville, VA – Abingdon, VA (B)

This morning we investigate the inestimable impact of Thomas Jefferson at his neoclassical home, Monticello. With a lunch break in Charlottesville, enjoy the chance to see another of Jefferson’s contributions at the University of Virginia Campus. In the afternoon, we launch a lengthy road trip down Interstate-81. Nearly one quarter of the entire length of the Appalachian Trail runs through Virginia! Because we have a lot of ground to cover before arriving in the southwest corner of the commonwealth, no Appalachian Trail hikes are planned today. We check into our hotel in the cute town of Abingdon, home of the famous Barter Theatre, whose famous alumni include Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine, and Ned Beatty.

Day 13-September 9: Abingdon, VA – Johnson City, TN (B)

Virginia Appalachian Trail Hike (Damascus) – 5 km (1B)
Tennessee Appalachian Trail Hike (Laurel Falls) – 7.5 km (3C)

Two Appalachian Trail states in one day is our theme yet again! In the morning, we drive a short distance to the fun, little mountain town of Damascus for a rare, relatively flat AT walk through town and along the rails-to-trails Virginia Creeper. In the afternoon, after crossing the border into Tennessee, we savor a lovely forested walk to Laurel Falls, a hidden gem of a cascade, before taking a short drive to the town of Johnson City, home to the University of East Tennessee.

Day 14-September 10: Johnson City, TN – Asheville, NC (B)

North Carolina Appalachian Trail Hike (Hot Springs) – 5 km (3B) or 10 km (4D)

Before we cross the border into the Tarheel State, we plan to pay a visit to the Tennessee birthplace of legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett along the banks of the Nolichucky River. Today’s late morning and afternoon hike in North Carolina goes right through the center of downtown Hot Springs, designated as an Appalachian Trail Community. Famous for its natural, healing mineral springs, this quaint mountain town offers an easier walk through town or, for those wishing for a longer, more adventurous hike, the chance to soak up wonderful views from Lover’s Leap. We conclude the day in the outstanding mountain town of Asheville.

Day 15-September 11: Asheville, NC – Atlanta, GA (B)

Georgia Appalachian Trail Hike (Dick’s Creek Gap) – 5 km (3C)

Today, our journey south concludes, as we leave the fun vibe of Asheville for the quieter, more rustic confines of Georgia’s northern mountainous region. Today’s out-and-back hike at Dick Creek’s Gap involves significant elevation gain, but we have enough time in the day to cover at least 5 km before continuing our afternoon journey to the thriving Southern city of Atlanta, Georgia. Here, we can celebrate the end of an epic Appalachian Adventure together, sharing recollections of our favorite moments together.

Day 16-September 12: Atlanta, GA – Home (B)

With all fourteen states of the Appalachian Trail logged in our walk books and memory banks, we say farewell today and make our way to Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) for our respective journeys home.

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

If pricing or dates are not yet available for a tour, you can express interest by hitting the Join the List button on the right-hand side of this webpage. Getting your name on this list gives you priority notification when dates are finalized and pricing is ready. You’ll receive an email a week before the completed brochure is posted on our website and registration is open to the public.

To register, a transferable $200 deposit is required to hold your spot. This amount is non-refundable; however, up until 60 days before departure, it can be transferred to a different tour. A final payment is due 60 days before departure and you will receive a prompt email from us a week or two in advance. Once paid, this final payment is not refundable. Please see the link below to our General Tour Conditions to see the full terms and conditions for participation in this Adventure.

An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, with important details about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.

Please follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.

Unique Aspects of this Tour

We are thrilled to offer a brand new adventure dedicated to exploring portions of the famous 2200 mile-long Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in all 14 states through which it passes. This tour is especially well suited for those who are seeking to complete their Appalachian Trail Special Program through the American Volkssport Association, but in truth anyone who loves to hike amidst the challenging and picturesque terrain of the A.T. will find this tour to be a diverse and delightful experience.

While portions of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) are gentle with even footing, the vast majority of the trail traverses mountainous and rolling terrain with plenty of uneven footing. This is a hiking adventure more than just a walking adventure, so good sturdy footwear, walking sticks, and a healthy dose of stamina and conditioning will be helpful companions on this journey. While our primary focus will be hiking the A.T. in each state, there will be other rewarding stops along the way, including visits to Monticello (Thomas Jefferson’s home) and Gettysburg National Battlefield during the Southern portion of our tour and a guided tour of West Point Military Academy during the Northern portion of the adventure.

Another aspect of a late summer/early fall trip along the Appalachian Trail is the possibility of mosquitoes! Depending upon weather conditions, they can be a nuisance and travelers should be prepared with good bug repellent just in case.

What's a Volkssport Tour?

What’s a Volkssport Tour? WAI offers walking adventures all over the planet. Most of the walks featured on our Classic Curated tours are developed by WAI tour planners in cooperation with local walking guides. These Classic Curated itineraries are the result of extensive on-site planning by WAI staff. A Volkssport Tour, on the other hand, streamlines this process, focusing more on walks and less on sightseeing. The objective is to offer more walking, more volkssport stamps, and keep the price lower.

There are three main differences:

  • All walks are club walks, offered by local clubs and not planned by WAI staff. Usually they are Year-Round Events (YREs)—self-guided walks using club-provided maps and directions.
  • Extensive work is done by in-office WAI planners with no on-site planning.
  • Traveler Rewards or Discounts are not available.

Walk Difficulty

Walks on this tour vary greatly in difficulty level, ranging from 1A (easy) to 4E (very challenging), with most walks falling into the moderately challenging 3C range.

  • In several cases, you will be able to choose between an easier and a harder option.
  • On some days, we will not have time to do a full 10 km at one walk site due to the need to drive to our next location, or because of multiple walks in one day, but we will offer at least a 5 km walk in each state that will qualify those participating in the AVA Appalachian Trail Special Program.
  • In many cases, it will be possible for you to use walk maps and instructions provided by the local clubs and do the walk on your own if you’d like. Your WAI guide will always be available if you prefer to walk with a group. In some cases, safety or timing considerations may indicate that walks be managed by the WAI guide as guided walks.
  • Walk stamps may be available along the way for those that wish to receive them; in some cases, we may be using the Online Start Box (OSB) to register and receive AVA credit for walks.

Walk Ratings

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Because these are group walks, the success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness in order to ensure that we are walking at a somewhat similar pace. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

Tour Accommodations

Good quality, tourist-class accommodations are the standard for our Adventure. Most accommodations on this tour are selected primarily as a practical base from which to pursue our itinerary. Many, but not all, of our accommodations on this adventure are single-floor or have elevators. Travelers should be able to carry their luggage up a number of steps to get to a second-floor room if necessary.

How is airfare arranged?

The official start point for Hiking the Appalachian Trail is Portland, ME (airport code PWM). The finish point is Atlanta, Georgia (airport code ATL). The starting hotel in Portland does not offer a shuttle service, but our hotel in Atlanta does offer a complimentary shuttles to the airport. We recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided by email after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!

 

Travel Insurance

WAI believes in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. This is now especially true in the era of COVID-19, which is typically treated like any other illness for travel insurance purposes. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provides air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.

Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).

As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the squaremouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz
  • Betins
  • Travel Guard
  • Travel Insured International

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape have caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.

Tour Cancellations

Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel this tour departure with fewer than 12 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received. This refund policy contains one exclusion related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Unforeseen circumstances linked to the virus can force us to cancel a tour. Due to these supplier’s non-refundable policies, WAI intends to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible, but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.

View our full Coronavirus FAQ for more details.

COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

The Our Approach to Fun but Prudent Travel document identifies and explains Covid-19 mitigation policies and procedures WAI is using as a starting point for our 2021 tours. Because the knowledge base about COVID-19 changes daily, we review these policies and procedures on an ongoing basis, and will, of course, notify travelers on tour of updates as we approach the departure date of your tour.

Contact our office with any questions at 360.260.9393 or [email protected].

COVID-19 Travel Waiver

During this age of COVID-19, WAI evaluates worldwide reports and conditions on an ongoing basis. Please read our COVID-19 Policies and Procedures document before signing the COVID-19 Travel Waiver. Participation in this tour requires your signature on the COVID-19 Travel Waiver.

Contact our office with any questions at 360.260.9393 or [email protected].

What Happens Next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome email and initial invoice notifying you of your tour balance and due date. You will be able to make that payment online or over the phone as well. Any other payments necessary for optional services or one-off decisions can also be made this way.

An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.

About 10 weeks before departure, you will receive a final statement reminder about the final tour payment, which is due 60 days before departure. Once paid, this final payment is not refundable. Please see our General Tour Conditions for the full terms and conditions for participation in this Adventure.

Around 2-3 two weeks before departure, you will receive a final email packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Take a few minutes to peruse the enclosed itinerary. In the end, we think you will agree that walking is still and always the best way to experience our world. Join us for this new Walking Adventure program Hiking the Appalachian Trail!

Your Guide

Scott Isom is one of WAI’s busiest guides and on-site Adventure planners, and has led tours on all 7 continents! During his childhood, Scott developed a passion for the outdoors while exploring the waterfalls and outstanding hiking trails of the Columbia River with his family. As an adult, Scott lived with his wife in Tennessee for 8 years, and reflects, “a few of my most cherished outdoor experiences featured beautiful hikes on portions of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The rugged beauty and serenity offered by this nearly 2,200-mile-long footpath is tough to beat! That’s why I’m so eagerly anticipating a return to this mountainous marvel with my fellow Walking Adventurers, where we’ll have the chance to partake in a 14-state sampler on one of the world’s great hiking trails!”