Sunday, April 10, 2011

Getting To The Appalachian Trail


Figuring out how to get to the Trail can be one of the toughest parts of planning a hike. This information can help get you on your way. Always check with the service provider to verify current schedules and prices.


The A.T. Shuttle List (PDF) is a directory of shuttle service providers and public transportation along the Trail. Through this list you can access almost any part of the Trail from the closest airport, bus station, or rail terminal, and get a ride back again. It also works for parties who wish to avoid bringing two cars. Many people on this list are individuals who shuttle on their time off. Arrangements are best made at least a week or two in advance.


Guidebooks are the best way to locate parking areas near the A.T. and the "Trailheads" or road crossings where the footpath crosses the highway. A.T. maps also show parking areas. In some cases, the guidebook includes directions to nearby towns and commercial areas where you can find food, supplies, and lodging.
Trailhead safety and parking tips. We can never guarantee the safety of any location. Remote trailheads tend to have the greatest risk. To minimize risk:
  • Park your car at a local business. Some local businesses allow hikers to park their car, sometimes for a fee; be sure to request permission ahead of time. To help foster good will toward the hiking community, consider offering to pay a few dollars for each night you leave your car. Businesses close to the Trail are listed in the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers' Companion, available through the Ultimate A.T. Store.
  • Never leave valuables in sight. The best place to stow them is in the trunk, or leave them at home.
  • Check recent vandalism reports. Information can be obtained by contacting the local Trail clubs in the area.
  • Tip: Trail access and parking. Directions to trail access points and information about trailheads, posted by hikers and trail clubs, can be found at Appalachian Trail Parking, a Web site created and maintained by the Rohlands.
  • Tip: parking in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park allows hikers to park at their Visitors Center for up to 2 weeks. Contact the Park for more information: (304) 535-6298.


Trains. Two Trail locations have direct train service:
Metro North A.T. stop (Photo: Brian Combs)
  • Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Amtrak has daily service to and from Washington, D.C., Union Station, with westbound trains continuing to Chicago. Reservations required. Maryland Rail Commuter(MARC) service's Brunswick line has two trains a day leaving Harpers Ferry for Washington in the morning and returning in the evening, weekdays only.
  • Pawling, New York. The Appalachian Trail Stop is served by Metro-North Railroad's Harlem line. Train leaves from Grand Central Terminal Saturday, Sunday and holidays only.
Bus Service. New England has the most extensive bus service close to the Trail. In most other areas, you can get a bus to a city near the Trail, and arrange for someone to shuttle you to the trailhead. Check Greyhound and Trailways for details. Local service highlights:
  • New Hampshire. Concord Trailways provides service to the Pinkham Notch Visitor's Center in the White Mountain National Forest, and to the town of Gorham. The affiliated Dartmouth Coach provides service to Hanover. Advance Transit public commuter bus provides service in and around Hanover, and connects Hanover with Norwich and the Amtrak station in White River Junction. Runs Monday through Friday only.
  • Massachusetts. Peter Pan Bus Lines serves several towns adjacent to the Trail along Route 7, including Great Barrington, Lee, Pittsfield, and Williamstown.
  • Delaware Water Gap, Pa. Martz Trailways bus terminal provides links to several major cities.
Flying. Airports near the Appalachian Trail, listed north to south:

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