The Appalachian Trail is one of the busiest hiking trails
in the United States, on par with the Pacific Crest Trail
that runs through California, Oregon and Washington and all along the western coast. The Appalachian
Trail runs through the Appalachian
Mountain range, and hiking the Appalachian Trail in
its entirety could take several months, as the trail is
more than 2,000 miles long, stretching from Newfoundland
in Canada to Alabama, Georgia in the United
States. Each year, however, many hikers do attempt
to hike this impressive trail from end to end. Those
who do will pass through Tennessee, Virginia, North
Carolina, Connecticut and Maine,
just to name a few of the states, and a host of small
towns along the way.
The history of the Appalachian Trail began in 1921, when a man named Benton MacKaye envisioned a trail that would connect all of the towns and smaller trails of the Appalachian Mountains. A few years later, the idea was made public and the task of connecting the many winding trails of this rugged mountain range began. Hiking and nature enthusiasts from around the world have been hiking the Appalachian Trail ever since.
While some hikers do hike the entire trail, the vast majority of hikers choose to enjoy smaller sections of the trail. Hiking the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina will take place within what is called the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. As you might expect, there are many hikes of varying length available. A comprehensive Appalachian Trail Guide can be obtained from North Carolina's USDA Forest Service.
One of the most popular hikes on any Appalachian trail guide for day hikers is the 1-mile hike beginning at the Deep Creek Campground in North Carolina. With an elevation gain of only about 100 feet, this is a great option for folks driving through who want to get out and stretch their legs. A great picture opportunity awaits hikers at the top of the trail at Indian Creek Falls, which is just over 60 feet high in the spring and summer.
If you love waterfalls, be sure to mark the Laurel Falls Trail on your Appalachian trail guide. Roundtrip, this is a 3 mile hike stunning views of Laurel Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The elevation gain for this hike is 200 feet and is considered to be an easy hike. This hike is also popular because of the Sugarlands Visitor Center located near the Laurel Falls Trail parking lot. At the visitor's center you can pick up maps, information about the flora and fauna along the trail, and speak directly to a park ranger.
Although these are just a few of the great places to explore, hikers will be happy to note that entrance to the parks is totally free of charge. Park trails outside of campgrounds are open during daylight hours throughout the year. Fires in the park outside of campsites are allowed, but must be contained within stone fire rings.