Hiking the Appalachian Trail in the winter

We’ve mentioned the Appalachian Trail on more than one occasion here on Gadling. Stretching from Maine to Georgia, the AT is one of the most iconic trails anywhere in the world, and each year thousands of backpackers flock to it to hike some or all of its 2178 mile length. Most go in the summer months, when the weather is more predictable and comfortable. But according to this story from the Times Online, an increasing number of trekkers are taking on the trail in the winter as well.

In the story, the author and a friend take on a section of the trail that passes through Connecticut in the dead of winter. Over the course of three days they hiked in quiet solitude with a blanket of snow in all directions. At first, the weather was comfortable enough, with temperatures in the upper 30′s Fahrenheit, but when night fell, it dropped into the 20′s, and later a cold snap set in, with daytime highs not even breaking out of the teens.

Winter camping can be a challenge in the best of conditions, and proper gear is of the utmost importance. These two intrepid hikers came well equipped, but still struggled on their adventure, mainly because the snow made if difficult to find the trail at times, which can be a bit scary considering the implications of getting lost in the mountains with freezing conditions.

It is difficult to think about hiking the Appalachian Trail in winter when the heat of August is still with us. But for those looking to experience the trail in a very different way, this may be just what they are looking for. The colder months bring a new set of challenges of course, but traffic on the trail is practically non-existent, and the winter setting offers up a different level of beauty.