My husband is currently hiking the entire Appalachian Trail (the “AT”) from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine – a distance of around 2,189 miles – from March through July this year. Every day is an adventure for Will on the AT, but there are a few highlights that have really made an impression on him. These are bright spots, milestones, and places he has made a note to visit again someday.
Hike from Franklin, NC to Nantahala Outdoor Center
Franklin, NC is a cute, quiet trail town and Nantahala Outdoor Center is a whitewater rafting and outdoor adventure center located at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and the Nantahala River in the Nantahala National Forest. Early in his journey, I met Will in Franklin for the weekend. As he hiked on from Franklin, he saw the most beautiful sunrise one morning at his campsite. Will and I hope to travel this path together sometime in the future so that he can show me the campsite, and maybe we’ll even try out the whitewater rafting at Nantahala!
Damascus is a must-visit site on the Appalachian Trail. It is famous for “Trail Days,” an annual celebration for thru-hikers featuring food, live music, and outdoor product vendors from around the region showcasing everything from energy bars to rain jackets. We visited Trail Days together last year, and although Will passed through Damascus before the event took place this year, we did spend some time together in the town – his parents visited that weekend, too, and we all relaxed together in a cabin by the river (accompanied by lots of friendly ducks). Damascus is located just over two hours from Winston-Salem and is also known for the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34-mile bike path that passes through it.
Virginia Triple Crown (McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragon’s Tooth)
The Virginia Triple Crown was one of Will’s favorite sections of the trail because it features some of the best views within a short distance. McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragon’s Tooth are all conveniently located within a few miles of each other just outside of Roanoke, Virginia (another great town only two hours from Winston-Salem!). McAfee Knob may be the most photographed spot along the AT. Will posed for a photo sitting on the ledge overlooking the vast valley and distant mountain ranges below. My guess is that most thru-hikers have a similar shot – it’s just too good to pass up!
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
There are so many things that make Harpers Ferry special, and I started hearing about them before I ever began the drive to visit Will. The small town is full of natural beauty – the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet there, and everything is exceptionally green. It is also full of history, being a key battleground during the Civil War. It’s got scenic railroads and huge bridges, the downtown area is full of character, and it is located just an hour outside of Washington, DC. Although Harpers Ferry is not exactly halfway mile-wise, it is considered the “psychological midpoint” of the AT, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is based there. Whether you are a hiker, nature enthusiast, or history buff, Harpers Ferry is the place to be.
These are only a few of the highlights of Will’s journey through 14 states on his way to Mount Katahdin. As of this writing, Will still has about 1,000 miles left to hike, so I am sure plenty more highlights await him! To read more, follow along with Will’s journey on Instagram @thetreelogs and on our blog at thetreelogs.com.