The Appalachian Trail, or less commonly known as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail or simply the A.T., is a 2,190-mile hiking trail between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. Completing the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one trip is a monumental undertaking. Each year, hundreds if not thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike; only about 1/4 makes it all the way from one end to the other. A typical thru-hiker takes 5 to 7 months to hike the entire A.T.
Most thru-hikers start in the South at Springer Mountain and head north. Because starting on the south end is the more common route, March 1 through April 15 is a very crowded time on the southern end of the AT. Alternatively, starting on the most northern end of the trail in Maine and heading south, has never been a popular place to start a thru-hike. Other than having to deal with the winter weather, Katahdin is often regarded as the most difficult mountain on the entire A.T. and not the best place for inexperienced or not thoroughly conditioned hikers prepared to deal with the many boulders and roots along the “trail” up the mountain. Of course, hikers can also start just about anywhere in the middle of the trail.