CAMPING & HIKING

Appalachian Trail Apps: Trail Facts and How to Use the Apps

Appalachian Trail sign
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

The Appalachian Trail mainly abbreviated as AT was launched as a visualization of Benton MacKaye (forester). Volunteers did develop the trail, and in 1937 it was set in motion as a continuous trail. The 1968 National Trails System Act voted the trail as the 1st National Scenic Trail.

Currently, the woodlands through which the Appalachian Trail cuts through are odds and ends of forests that once had a significant effect on the lives as well as minds the settlers. The Appalachian Trail Apps are designed to help you tour the area at ease. With the help of the app, you will learn of the seemingly limitless source fuel along with building material. Apart from the beautiful scenery that will keep you glued on the trail.

The Appalachian Trail Explained

Unlike most prehistoric events, the development of Appalachian Trail can be traced back to a specific moment time. The man behind the recognition of the trail is Benton MacKaye. He was a conservationist as well as planner and developer of the Appalachian Trail. He was born on March 6, 1879 in the urban confines of Stamford, Connecticut.

APPALACHIAN TRAIL Map

He founded forested hills to move about in Shirley, Massachusetts, which were situated thirty miles west of Boston. In history, it is stated that Benton had a secret society named Rambling Boys’ Club. Most individuals suggest that Benton’s vision can be linked with the Rambling Boys’ Club.

MacKaye’s idea wasn’t just to construct a trail, there was much more than that. The forerunner was a stout thinker. The trail is simply the methodology he anticipated for accomplishing a greater project. He was deeply troubled by the impact of economic development on workers when he was in service for the government.

He believed that the best way of reinstating the spirits as well as the energy of individuals working and living in urban areas was a recreation in the wilderness. Benton contacted a chairperson of a commission on community planning (Clarence Stein) in the American Institute of Architects, earlier in 1921.

He did make that communication because he was after improving the lives of the people. As far as the Appalachian Trail is concerned, the founder made his case purposely. He began by laying out his overall agenda, which did simply insisted on providing modern workers with a retreat from the urban life.

Man on a cliff at sunset

The founder did acknowledge the deep-seated facets of his proposals. Basically, his original proposal entailed more than just a development of a trail. The trail’s proposition was exactly like what we have today as the Appalachian Trail. The path was to run from Mountain Washington located in the New Hampshire to Mountain Mitchell situated in North Carolina.

The trail was supposed to have side trails recommended in different places. The largest percentage of the trail is under protection by either the State or Federal ownership. The trail covers thirty five hundred kilometers, stretching all the way from Maine to Georgia.

More than four thousand volunteers offer more than one hundred and eighty five thousand hours’ worth of effort per year on the trail. Statistically, thousands of hikers attempt to complete the entire trail through thru-hiking. Its ease of access to major populated areas scenic vistas, and fame contribute greatly to Appalachian Trail’s popularity.

appalachian trail scenery

Appalachian Trail Apps

There are several recommended apps for both Android and iPhone that you can find from the respective stores, but the best apps that you can consider are: Appalachian Trail-SPORz and Guthook’s AT Guide. This post will review the Appalachian Trail-SPORz (which is the most popular).

Appalachian Trail-SPORz

This is a fairly simple to use app. All you need are the basics. The homepage displays a colorful image of the trail. There is a menu button on the left top side of the screen from which you can access all the features.

How to Use Appalachian Trail-SPORz

Step 1: Navigating the App

To navigate the app for the first time after installation, click on the menu button on the left top side of the screen. The following screen will display the various features provided by the app, including: Home, Trail Info, Videos, Trail Map Info, Facebook, Twitter, AT Guide, News, Events, Photos, Local Events, Local News, Car Locator, Tip %, Open Table, and Real Estate Listings.

Step 2: Learn All You Can About the Trail

In actual fact, this is the most important step for a hiker or outdoorsman who has never been on the trail. Learn everything you need to know from the Trail Info section. This section introduces you to the trail, and then provides you with basic info that you need to complete the joinery.

Appalachian Trail sign and trail

The easiest way to gain access to the trail is by car. According to this section, there are numerous parking spots along the trail. If you are emerging from heavily populated parts, you will come across a parking lot at the entrance in every ten miles. Security is an issue though, a fact that is clearly stated by the app. You should not leave anything valuable in the car.

The app informs you that you need to come up with your own transport. However, you can always attempt to leave the settlement and pay for transportation. The app recommends that you have your own transport. Unlike National Parks and Reserves, there are no permits or fees needed for you to camp or hike within the Appalachian Trail.

However, permits or charges may apply at National Parks that exist along the trail, and they are crowded. The most popular parks associated with the trail being Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. Nonetheless, the permits are not strict and the charges are fairly cheap. You may incur charges at a number of campsites under protection, or you can choose to camp in the wild.

Through the app, you will learn of the best times to go thru-hiking. As far as the climate is concerned, the trail is usually opened the whole year. Nevertheless, there may be no entrée on the northern terminus, which is situated within a Park during extreme weather conditions, particularly in winter. Common sense dictates that hiking on the trail during extreme weather conditions is not a good idea.

AT red caution sign

The best times are late Spring to early Fall. According to experts, the trail is normally the one that suffers the worst of the extreme weather. You should expect life-threatening coldness and rainy nights. Therefore, stick to the correct times.

Step 3: Know the Trail Map Information

To access this feature, you have to click on the Trail Map Info link, which will redirect you to the available info. The homepage of this particular feature presents you with a number of things. To begin with, there is a section map representing the trail, which was recently updated by LarryBoy.

Just on top of the map (on your right), there is a stats pie chart that displays elevation stats and difficulty levels. From the stats, you will learn that the maximum elevation is 6643 feet, minimum elevation is 124 feet, the length is 2189.1 miles, the elevation change is 904,582 feet, the elevation loss is 451,696 feet, the elevation gain is 452,886 feet, and the average grade is 7.8%.

On the elevation pie chart, green is flat, blue is easy, orange is medium, and red is difficult. You can have a clear view of the various points on the map by either zooming in or out. To do this, you just have to pinch in or out, or you can opt to use the (+/-) signs on the right bottom corner.

AT app Screenshot Trail info

You will find the following sections under prepare below the map: Map Data, Trail Guide, and Create New Plan. You can sketch out your trail by using the New Plan option. However, you can come up with your own plan; you do not necessarily have to use this particular plan. The plan has the current date, starting point, ending point, the time you require to get into the trail shape, zero day frequency, average hiking speed, and trekking hours per day.

If you are planning to thru-hike from Springer Mtn. to Katahdin, the app calculates the distance for you, which is 2189.1 miles. According to the app, the time you need to complete the journey is two weeks. The average speed you will be required to travel on is 2.25 miles an hour, and the trekking hours per day will be eight.

To select a starting or ending point, you simply have to click on the drop down menu at the right-hand side of each bar. If the information on the first page of the New Plan section is correct, you should click on Go to access your calendar and map for that particular distance. The calendar will show you the exact dates that you will be on the trail, and the exact places that you will be able to cover each day.

Specific Features

Maildrops

The basic features that are offered on the app include: trailheads, towns, resupply, and mail drops. Each feature plays a big role on your journey. Maildrops are available in different States at different towns (178). In Georgia, one of the convenient mail drop is A.T. Hiker Hostel, which is operated by Josh and Leigh Saint. You are provided with map location and details.

AT app Screenshot maildrop

The details include GPS coordinates and Off trail information. From the hostel, you can access places and geographical features within the vicinity, including: Duncan Ridge Trail, Three Forks, Gooch Mountain Shelter, Gooch Gap, Ramrock Mtn., Blood Mountain Cabins, Slaughter Creek Campsite, Woods Hole Shelter, Lance Creek, and Dockery Lake Trail to mention a few. This is the same with other Maildrops along the trail.

Resupply

There are 164 resupplying centers along the trail. You can access different places from the resupply centers. If you are at Mountain Crossings at Walasi in Georgia, you can access the following spots: Whitley Gap Shelter, Bull Gap, Jarrard Gap, Slaughter Creek Campsite, Blood Mountain Shelter, Dockery Lake Trail, and A.T. Hiker Hostel.

AT app Screenshot Resupply

Each resupply center is presented with a sign and map on the app. There are some features that do not have locations at the moment, but you are provided with elevation profile and geographical details. The app also clear states what you can find at each resupply center. For instance, there is a water source at Bull Gap, while there is food source at Dills Food City.

Towns

There are 115 towns at your disposal along the trail. There are details provided on each town. All you have to do is click on the arrow. You will find useful info under each town section. If you click on Helen, GA icon, you will be redirected to the information page. Just below the headline of the page, which is the name of the town, there are icons indicating the various services available in the area.

AT app Screenshot Towns

These services include internet, transportation, laundry, shopping centers, mail drops, and banks. Some towns are presented with a map and geographical details while others do not have a map yet. You are also presented with sleeping spots. In Helen, the recommended sleeping places are Super 8 Motel, Hofbrau Riverfront Hotel, Helendorf River Inn, Econolodge, and Best Western.

Trailheads

There are 54 trailheads that you need to know. Each trailhead is provided with a map that shows you the exact place. The map is incorporated with elevation profile information and geographical details. Below the map, you will find directions.

AT app Trailheads

When you click on this feature, you will be redirected to a new page where you can set your direction. To set direction, you will have to choose the starting and ending points.

Just click on the designated entries and fill in your information. You have to specify your mode of transportation: car, train, walking, or cycling. You can also avoid ferries by clicking and ticking the option on your right-hand side.

Tips and Tricks of Using Appalachian Trail-SPORz

  1. You should visit the All Trails section in the event that you are searching a particular trail. Click on Appalachian Trail, and you will be redirected to the Trails info, most of which is discussed above. A trail that you cannot find is usually not included in the app. So, do not have a headache over it, just look for another trail instead.
  2. You might find your desired trail, but get stuck in the process. Well, you should just revisit the app for more information or you can choose to ask around at most of the Maildrops, trailheads, towns, and resupply centers. You can also leave a review so as the app managers can improve the quality of the information they provide to avoid any future inconveniences on your behalf.
  3. You seriously need to get familiar with the terminologies, especially the signs. If you fail to do so, you might face some problems understanding most features of the app. You can find symbols and corresponding meanings/terminologies at wikitrail.org. most of the symbols and terminologies that you must know include: dry water source, outfitter, ATM, post office, bar, parking, restaurant, campsite, good water source, shelter, hotel, hostel, short-term resupply, shuttle, internet, long-term resupply, medical, Wi-Fi, train, town, and Maildrop to mention a few.
  4. If you are facing issues with login, you should check your credentials to see if they are correct. The site managing the app doesn’t have login details (username/passcode). Instead, it uses Google to confirm its users. The site does this for security reasons. You should put your mind at ease, the site only receives your username, but your Google Passcode is secured by Google.
  5. Finding the trail is the first part of the puzzle, you need to figure the rest. However, this has been simplified for you, since the trail page is integrated with subsections for easy maneuvering. You are presented with a list of well-known sections.
  6. You have added features that you can put to good use, including social media links (Facebook & Twitter), News, Local New, Events, Local Events, Real Estate Listings, Car Locator, and Open Table. To access local events and news, you will have to allow the app to access your current location on the trail. The car locator traces your car, and you can save the location on the app.

In Conclusions

The Appalachian Trail is one of the major sites that any serious thru-hikers should definitely learn about, and explore at some point in life. The trail passes through the best of what remains of the vast forest. The AT app has made it easier for you to hike on the trail.

2 hikers on the AT

You do not have to go in blindly not knowing where you are heading to or relying solely on navigation devices. The app gives you the exact trail details; all you have to do is follow them to the very end. In the process, you get to see an abundance of geographical sites and famous landmarks and places that are located in the vicinity of the Appalachian Trail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

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