If you are planning a hike on the Appalachian Trail, the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion is a must-have. When preparing for your hike, you need to have an idea about the mileage you plan to hike each day, the campsites you will use, your resupply locations, and much more. Included in Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion’s pages are professionally crafted elevation profiles, maps of towns along the trail, mileage charts for landmarks, information about local services, and more. Whether you are a thru-hiker, section-hiker, or day-hiker, this book offers valuable information that will help you plan and execute your hike.
The Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion provides mileages for landmarks from north-to-south and from south-to-north. In one column the guide shows the mileage from Springer Mountain and another column shows the mileage from Katahdin. The mileage chart also shows which Appalachian Trail Conservancy map number is appropriate for each section of the trail so you can reference that specific map too, if desired.
Another helpful column in the mileage table shows the distance to the next landmark from the previous one. For each landmark, easy-to-read symbols and notations are given for quick identification of services such as water sources, campsites, shelters, lodging, privies, summits, gaps, views, and more. If the landmark row is shaded, that means there is additional information for that landmark in the text column beside the elevation profile. Elevation profile maps for the entire trail help you know your elevation gain and loss between each landmark and every landmark is aligned to the profile.
Since the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion is updated yearly, you can be assured that it has the most current on and off-trail information . At the beginning of the book, you will find notices regarding current issues on the trail, such as fire bans, forest fires, etc. Also, a section at the beginning entitled “Issues on the Trail” provides information about trail safety, wildlife issues, Leave no Trace guidance, trail and town etiquette, and other helpful advice. Another part provides information about getting to the termini (Baxter State Park, Maine and Springer Mountain, Georgia via the approach trail at Amicalola Falls State Park or alternate routes).
The Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion is available in a hardcopy bound version or downloadable PDF format. The book weighs approximately 11.4 ounces, making it light enough for most, to pack on your hike. The price for this information-packed guide is $14.95 for the bound version and $10 for the PDF format.
Some Negatives I found for this guidebook:
- Some of the wording is small and may be hard to read for some.
- Some commenters who have used this guide have said that some of the phone numbers for shuttles, hostels, etc. are wrong and need to be updated.
Note: The Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion’s forward says that it is updated every year by volunteers who work hard to make each edition “as accurate and up-to-date as possible” and that this “guidebook…is not static” and each hiker may find parts that need to be updated. If corrections need to be made or other feedback given, then The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) can be contacted with the information.
- The book weighs 11.4 ounces.
Note: The Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion recommends editing the companion as you see fit to make it lighter. In other words, write pertinent notes from the sections you don’t think you need, cut and paste from those unneeded parts, then rip out those sections. Another suggestion is to cut the pages out and divide them into sections of the trail. Use a hole punch and bind those sections together. Send the sections you don’t currently need forward to mail drops and send the sections that you have already used back home or throw them away.
Disclosure: The author purchased this book with his own funds.