Best of the Appalachian Trail Day Hikes   by Leonard M. Adkins & Victoria and Frank Logue

Best of the Appalachian Trail Day Hikes Guide Book

by Leonard M. Adkins & Victoria and Frank Logue (Menasha Ridge Press)
Best of the Appalachian Trail Day Hikes   by Leonard M. Adkins & Victoria and Frank Logue
Leaves of red, orange, and yellow rustled in the wind and broke loose from their branches. The soft sound made by thousands of leaves as they fell onto the already littered forest floor could barely be heard over the burbling, pattering, and splashing sounds from Little Black Branch. The small creek runs alongside the Appalachian Trail on a hike from Forest Service Road 10 to Little Rock Pond. In a wide, shallow pool, red maple leaves circled around and around, caught in an eddy. The wet leaves seem iridescent, lit by the sunlight streaming through the trees on that crisp October morning. That short, easy hike was the perfect way to spend the morning. The pond surrounded by Vermont’s peak foliage was a breathtaking sight. This book was written to introduce you to just that kind of experience—the best day hikes on the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail.

© 2018 Leonard M Adkins and Victoria and Frank Logue/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best of the Appalachian Trail Day Hikes " Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 144.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 144.

Excellent viewpoints reward you for climbing close to 1,500 feet from the New River Valley to the top of Pearis Mountain. Long, gradually rising switchbacks, constructed by volunteers of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, ease the huff-and-puff factor. Follow the A.T. south as it gains elevation following a ravine to cross VA 634 in 1.1 miles. Continue to ascend within a mixed hardwood forest and cross a boulder field at 1.0 mile. Dutchman’s breeches grow well and are quite abundant along the trail during early spring.
Roanoke, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 9.4
The two destinations of this day hike, Annapolis Rock and Black Rock Cliffs, offer spectacular western views of the Maryland countryside as well as southwestern views of Greenbrier Lake. From the parking area off US 40, hike 0.1 mile to the trailhead. Pick up the A.T. at the US 40 overpass, and follow a dirt road that climbs into the woods to the right. Turn left in 0.1 mile and, shortly thereafter, pass a road leading to a farmhouse on the right.
Catoctin Mountain Park, MD - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.0
Without a doubt, Anthony’s Nose has one of the most inspiring and spectacular views in this part of New York. The rocky formation, composed of erosion- resistant granite and gneiss, sits 900 feet above the Hudson River and looks directly down onto the Bear Mountain Bridge. In a sweeping south–north vista, your gaze can take in Iona Island jutting out into the river, Bear Mountain rising high from the opposite bank with Hessian Lake in front of it, and the houses and roadways of Fort Montgomery. On clear days, you can see the skyline of New York City, about 50 miles south. Because of its position, Anthony’s Nose has been an important military site since before the Revolutionary War. In fact, the A.T. used to pass over it until it was closed to hikers in World War II. It wasn’t until 1993 that the state once again opened it to the public.
Peekskill, NY - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
This unusual day hike takes you to the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain, which has a large Federal Aviation Administration antenna on the top. The antenna is the only working remnant of Bedford Air Force Base, which operated on the summit from 1954 to 1974. As many as 120 airmen were stationed on the mountain during those 20 years. Just 0.3 mile beyond the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain, you will reach another highlight of this day hike—110 rock steps built by the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club with help from the ATC’s volunteer trail crew. The steps take the Trail in and around several interesting rock formations, including The Guillotine, a large boulder that hangs over the Trail, trapped in a cleft of another rock.
Roanoke, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.0
There is a steep climb of almost 1,000 feet at the beginning of this hike, but once you gain that elevation, the walking is easy (if you don’t mind thousands of rocks underfoot) along the nearly level crest of Blue Mountain. Two viewpoints, one from a pipeline rightof-way and the other from a rock outcrop, are the destinations for the day’s hike. Follow the A.T. south as it makes use of a railroad bridge to cross the Schuylkill River. Turn left across railroad tracks still actively used by the Blue Mountain and Reading Railroad. A few feet later climb a steep embankment to an old railbed. Turn left and follow it for close to 50 yards before turning right and ascending steeply via switchbacks.
Reading, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.0
This hike uses very little of the A.T., but it is another exception to the rule. The Bigelow Range is possibly the most outstanding in Maine. Bigelow is known as Maine’s Second Mountain, next to Katahdin. The long, east–west range consists of six major peaks and a number of minor ones. The most spectacular are Avery (East) and West Peaks, followed closely by the Horns. This hike also uses the Firewardens Trail. Although it provides the shortest route to Avery and West Peaks, it is also the steepest ascent and descent.
Caratunk, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.4
This is really just a leg stretcher. The goal is a magnificent view of Pennsylvania farmland from Bake Oven Knob. This area is also a popular spot for hawk-watching during the fall migrations. From Bake Oven Knob Road, hike north on the A.T. and reach the summit of Bake Oven Knob (elevation 1,560') at mile 0.4. There are a couple of vantage points. The first offers a view to the north, the second, to the south. Return to the parking lot by hiking south on the A.T.
Allentown, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
On this day hike, you will climb out of Grafton Notch to cross the West Peak of Baldpate Mountain (elevation 3,680') with its partially open summit. From West Peak, you will drop sharply into the sag between the mountain’s two peaks and then climb to the cairn marking the summit of the East Peak (elevation 3,812'). The climb involves areas where you will have to use your hands to negotiate some steep inclines. There is a more than 2,000-foot elevation difference between Grafton Notch and the peaks of Baldpate. The open summit on the East Peak and the fine 360° views of the surrounding western Maine mountains are well worth the work it will take to reach the summit. An optional side trip on your return hike down the mountain will take you to Table Rock. The 1.5-mile trail passes an overlook with steep cliffs falling away to the notch below. The trail continues on to meet the A.T. before it crosses ME 26.
Farmington, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.8
A drive on a backcountry road, a stream ford, a shelter and a waterfall inside a deeply shaded gorge, a steep climb on what could be slippery trail, and a spectacular view of mountains and lakes. You would be hard-pressed to find a shorter hike more representative of what longer hikes in Maine can encompass. Barren Ledges is located on the southern end of the 15-mile-long Barren– Chairback Range, and the southward-facing view from its open rock slopes can be breathtaking. To the east, the rounded mass of Boarstone Mountain rises sharply from Lake Onawa’s southern shore. Almost directly below Barren Ledges is flat Bodfish Intervale, a wide valley believed to have once been underwater and a part of Lake Onawa.
Baxter State Park, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
This loop (the Grassy Pond Trail) is an easy leg-stretcher in Baxter State Park, which uses the A.T. You will pass four small ponds and, in good weather, will be afforded excellent views of Katahdin and other lesser peaks in the area from Daicey Pond. If you are planning on visiting Baxter Park with children, the Ponds Loop is your best bet for an enjoyable afternoon. One of the most thrilling things that may happen to you on this hike is to turn a corner of the Trail just in time to catch a bull moose raising its head out of a pond. You might even hear it before you actually see it, as gallons upon gallons of water roll off a massive set of antlers, drip down the muscular neck, and splash loudly back into the pond. During the summer, a moose’s favorite food is aquatic vegetation, such as water lilies and pondweeds, so you might also see a long strand of foliage hanging from its mouth.
Baxter State Park, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.1
It is a moderate, almost easy, walk to the open crestline of Bear Den Mountain for a superb 360° view. Like Calf Mountain to the north, Bear Den Mountain offers a great seat from which to watch the thousands of hawks that glide along the Blue Ridge Mountains during the annual fall migration. You don’t have to hike anywhere to enjoy the views from the open meadows of Beagle Gap, which look eastward into the folded recesses of Tuckedaway Branch and Greenwood Hollow. To begin the hike, cross Skyline Drive and follow the A.T. south, snacking on wild strawberries in June and turning around every once in a while to look onto the fields of Calf Mountain to the north.
Charlottesville, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
From the ruins of a stone tower on the summit of Bear Mountain, there are fine views of the Housatonic River Valley. The marker on the summit, placed there in 1885, is incorrect, however; this is not the highest point in Connecticut. The actual high point (elevation 2,380') is on the south slope of nearby Mount Frissell, whose summit lies in Massachusetts. The rough and rocky climb down from Bear Mountain leads to the cool, clear waters of Sages Ravine Brook, which drop through the ravine in a seemingly never- ending series of waterfalls and pools.
Salisbury, CT - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.0
This short hike is not a true loop but rather a figure eight. You will hike over a very rough section of trail to the rocky top of Bearfence Mountain, which offers fine views of Skyline Drive, the surrounding mountains, and the valley. The Bearfence Mountain Loop is listed as a moderate hike because it is short, but the climbs involve using your hands, as well as your feet, to scramble over the rocks. In the summer, naturalist-led hikes leave from the parking area. If you are interested in going on one, check with the park for times and dates.
Shenandoah National Park, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
Excellent views of the Shenandoah Valley from Bears Den Rocks and Lookout Point are the highlights of this day hike. If your time is limited, you could hike out just to Bears Den Rocks and back, a round-trip journey that will take about 1 hour to cover the 1.7 miles. Follow the blue-blazed trail from the parking lot 0.25 mile to intersect and turn south on the A.T. The footpath immediately climbs 0.5 mile to Bears Den Rocks. A side trail to the left heads 0.25 mile to Bears Den Hostel. Continue along the A.T., descend through pines, and at mile 1.5 cross a creek on a footbridge. Shortly thereafter, cross another stream where the pines end.
Shenandoah National Park, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.5
This hike has an unusual trailhead—a beach. From the swimming area on Benedict Pond, you will hike on a side trail along this beautiful glacial pond and then on the A.T. Your destination is The Ledges, a rocky ridge that affords fine views of Mount Everett and East Mountain. You can also see the Catskills rising in the distance. This hike is quite steep in some places but is only rated as moderate because it is relatively short in length. You may want to save time for a swim in the pond. You can also rent canoes by the hour at the beach.
Lee, MA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.0
Big Bald is perhaps the finest example of a southern Appalachian bald mountain. From its treeless summit, the bald offers an outstanding 360° view. You can see an assortment of mountain ranges, including the Blacks, Great Smokies, Nantahalas, and the Unakas. There are many theories about how the balds were created. Some have attributed balds to fires caused by lightning, Native Americans burning the trees to clear the mountains, settlers clearing pastureland, or even UFOs. Whatever the original cause, most balds have been kept clear at one point through grazing. Without being grazed or cut with mowers, the balds would become covered with trees in time, as plant succession does its work.
Pisgah Forest, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.4
This short hike leads to outstanding views from Blackrock. The Trail nearly circles the mountain as it passes around its north, west, and south sides. From the parking area at the trailhead, hike a short distance of the Jones Run Trail to the junction with the A.T. Turn right on the A.T. and hike south 0.25 mile to Skyline Drive. Cross Skyline Drive and continue following the A.T., climbing gradually. Pass most of the way around the summit of Blackrock (elevation 3,100'). There are several fine views from this section of trail. The return hike is back north on the A.T. to the Jones Run Trail, which leads to the parking area.
Shenandoah National Park, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.0
This hike is, without a doubt, the most traveled section of the A.T. in Georgia. On pretty spring and summer weekends, this section of trail is often crowded. The reason for the hike’s popularity is twofold: it is easy to get to, and the rocky summit of Blood Mountain offers a superb view of the north Georgia mountains. On the summit of Blood Mountain, there is a stone cabin built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The two-room shelter, intended for overnight use by A.T. hikers, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The mountain’s name is said to date from a fierce fight between the Creek and Cherokee Indians. Also of interest in the area is Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi in Neels Gap. This hiking store sells a good selection of equipment and books on the outdoors and the region; drinks and snacks are also available here. The only covered section of the A.T. passes through a walkway at Mountain Crossings.
Blairsville, GA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
This section of Blue Mountain is one of the best areas along the entire A.T. to collect blueberries during the summer. Some bushes are so full that you can gather a handful within moments of picking. The ascent of the mountain is gradual, and the use of a side trail enables you to loop around to a grand view of the Lehigh Valley. Additional views are scattered throughout the hike. Ascend south over rocky terrain on the A.T. Pass a reliable spring at 0.6 mile, soon walking by the George W. Outerbridge Shelter and reaching an intersection at 0.8 mile. Bear right onto blue-blazed North Trail, crossing over the main ridgeline of Blue Mountain and coming to another pathway at 1.1 miles. Bear right to descend to Devil’s Pulpit overlooking a major bend of the Lehigh River at 1.5 miles. Return to North Trail and bear right, enjoying the traverse of the main crest of the mountain. During late June and into July, your forward progress may be retarded by the urge to gather the abundant blueberries.
Allentown, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.3
Bluff Mountain offers more views today than it did in the past. Sadly, most of the spruce trees that covered much of the summit have died, but this has opened up a wonderful vista onto the mountains framing the Shenandoah Valley. Also on the mountaintop is a plaque in memory of Ottie Cline Powell, a youth who wandered away from school and died in the mountains. The plaque tells his sad tale. You can also make a 0.4-mile side trip to Punchbowl Shelter, which has an idyllic setting on the side of a small pond. This relatively short hike takes you up a steady climb of more than 1,100 feet. The ascent could be listed as strenuous, but the Trail is graded well and the climb is short.
Charlottesville, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.0