​14 ​state challenge

If you have the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) on your bucket list, here's a goal anyone can accomplish 

The 14-state challenge allows you to visit some of the A.T.’s most iconic places in bite-sized pieces. It can be done on family vacations, when you're traveling on business, or whenever wanderlust strikes.

how it works:

14 State Challenge How it Works Step 1

​Visit Each A.T. State

Visit one location in each of the Appalachian Trail’s 14 states. Scroll down to find suggested destinations and hikes for each state. Many of the hikes in our list are from the book "The Best of the Appalachian Trail: Day Hikes" by Frank & Victoria Logue. These are just suggestions, you are free to pick your own!

14 State Challenge How it Works Step 2

​Commemorate and share your journey!

Purchase an A.T. Passport (it’s only $7 and proceeds protect the A.T.). Then along the way, post photos of yourself to Instagram or ATC’s Facebook page with #AT14er, collect all the state patches and get your passport stamped where available.

14 State Challenge How it Works Step 3

​Get the Certificate

When you’re done, download, personalize, and print your certificate.

suggested destinations and hikes by state

Before you start checking out our recommendations, use the "Hike Difficulty Rating Key" to better understand how each hikes difficulty is determined.

easy: Very little elevation gain, under 200’ under 2 miles

easy - moderate: Some elevation gain, approx. 200’-400’ appropriate for youth

moderate: Some significant elevation gain, approx. 400- 700’, and steeper ascents and descents

moderate - strenuous: Approx. 700’-1000’ elevation gain, may have challenging terrain in parts of the trail, may have steeper ascents/descents

strenuous: At least 1,000’ elevation gain, and/or a particularly steep ascent or descent that an average hiker might find extremely difficult

 

georgia

suggested destination: Mountain Crossings at Neels Gap (1.5 hours from Atlanta)

description:  The building, Walasi-Yi Interpretive Center, was created by the CCC, is the only building that the Trail goes right through, and is in the A.T. Community of Union County, Georgia.

 

suggested hike: Woody Gap to Big Cedar Mountain (1 hour 45 min. from Atlanta)

closest town:  Suches

length:  2 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Moderate to Strenuous

description:  A steady uphill hike on graded trail leads a great rock outcrop/viewing area known as “Preaching Rock”.

 

​north carolina

suggested ​destination: Nantahala Outdoor Center (1 hour 15 min. from Asheville)

description:  Amp up your outdoor adventures and add in a zipline, a rafting trip, or a ride on horseback (not on the A.T.). Choose your adventure and amenities. There is even a phenology site and a Monarch waystation if you want to be a citizen-scientist while you’re there.

 

suggested hike: Lover's Leap

closest town:  Hot Springs

length:  2.6 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Strenuous (short but steep)

description:  From the Hot Springs Visitor Center (across the street from the post office), hike north (east( on the A.T. and follow the white paint blazes and A.T. diamonds along the sidewalk. Cross Spring Creek on a small bridge and at mile 0.25 cross the French Broad River on the US 25/70 bridge. Turn right down the east bridge abutment to the Silver Mine Creek Road and follow it upstream, then across driveway bridge and through the Nantahala Outdoor Center; the Trail is parallel to the river on its sandy east bank. At mile 0.9. begin climbing up to Lovers Leap on switchbacks. Reach an overlook in 0.25 miles, and then continue another 0.25 mile to Lovers Leap Rock at the junction with the Silver Mine Trail.

 

​tennessee/north carolina

suggested ​destination: Clingmans Dome (1.5 hours from Knoxville)

description:  Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingmans Dome is the highest point on the entire A.T., where the Trail reaches an elevation of 6,625 feet near the summit. An observation tower provides 360 degree views. From the parking lot, walk ½ mile on a paved path.

 

suggested hike: Round Bald and Jane Bald

closest town:  Roan Mountain, TN or Baskerville, NC

length:  2.6 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Moderate

description:  From the parking area at Carvers Gap follow gravel, white blazed A.T. north (east) through log fence and ascend graded trail through balds, then to left through spruce-fir forest. Re-emerge on grassy bald and continue to summit of Round Bald at .7 mile. Go downhill .3 mile to Engine Gap, then ascend .3 mile to rock formation with good views, crossing 740 million year old black rock dikes which intrude into 1.1 billion year old gneiss, the oldest rocks on the whole A.T. Retrace your steps to return.

 

​virginia

suggested ​destination: Damascus (2 hours from Roanoke)

description:  The most famous trail town of them all, Damascus is the gateway to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers family fun with easy hikes, camping, biking, and B&Bs. And the Trail runs directly through it.

 

suggested hike: Blackrock

closest town:  Harrisonburg, VA

length:  2 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Moderate

description:  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 for 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. 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.

 

west virginia

suggested ​destination: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) Headquarters in Harpers Ferry (1 hour 15 min. from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland)

description:  Located in a beautiful, historic town (John Brown’s raid and Civil War battlefield) — and A.T. Community —the ATC headquarters and visitor center features a giant 3-D topographical map of the Appalachian Trail, a hiker lounge, gifts, maps and guides, and staff and volunteers to help with your A.T. information needs. It is located two tenths of a mile from the A.T.

 

suggested hike: Three State Challenge

closest town:  Harpers Ferry, WV

length:  ~6 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Strenuous

description:  From the shuttle bus stop walk toward the historic district along Shenandoah Street. On your right, stop at "The Master Armorer's House," the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park's Information Center, with cool exhibits about all the history in the park.   Continue east on Shenandoah St. until you merge with the A.T. Turn right (north) on the A.T. and follow the white blazes over the Potomac River, down the spiral staircase. You are now in Maryland, where the A.T. coincides with the C&O Canal Towpath!
To continue your Three State Challenge, backtrack. When you return to Shenandoah St. continue following the white blazes through Harpers Ferry, up the old stone staircase, past St. Peter’s Church, to Jefferson’s Rock. Continuing south on the A.T., in a quarter mile you will come to a sign and blue-blazed trail leading to the ATC headquarters. The A.T. will descend from the ridge, take you across the Shenandoah River (Rte 340 bridge), and head up the ridge to the West Virginia/Virginia border (and a wood sign). Retrace your steps to return to Harpers Ferry (or turn left on the orange blazed trail to go to Loudoun Heights).

 

​maryland

suggested ​destination: Washington Monument State Park (1 hour 15 min. from Washington, D.C.)

description:  Washington Monument State Park, located on South Mountain, offers the opportunity to see the original monument (about 500 feet off the a.t.) dedicated to George Washington and built by the people of Boonsboro in 1827.

 

suggested hike: Weverton Cliffs

closest town:  Point of Rocks, MD/Harpers Ferry, WV

length:  2 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Strenuous

description:  From the trailhead, follow the A.T. north. The climb is steep and involves switchbacks. Reach the short side trail to the cliffs at mile 1. To reach the trailhead at Weverton Cliffs Road, follow Maryland 67 North from US 340. Weverton Road is the first right turn after US 340. Parking is available alongside the Trail. The A.T. crosses Weverton Road 1 mile from MD 67.

 

​pennsylvania

suggested ​destination: Boiling Springs (2 hours from Philadelphia)

description:  The picturesque A.T. Community of Boiling Springs offers something for every season, from hiking the A.T. through lush nearby farmland to fly fishing on Yellow Breeches Creek. Enjoy a stroll around Children’s Lake before heading into the ATC Regional Office and Visitors Center to say “happy trails” to staff.

 

suggested hike: Table Rock

closest town:  Dauphin or Powells Valley

length:  4.2 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Easy

description:  From the trailhead parking area, follow the A.T. north. Pass a radio facility for the Pennsylvania Fish Commission on your right in 0.25 mile, and cross a powerline right-of-way in 0.5 mile, with excellent views to the east of the Susquehanna River and Valley. A short side trail to the right at mile 1.6 leads to a good view to the south. At mile 2, you will pass over Fumitory Rocks, and reach the junction with the short side trail to Table Rock Outlook 0.25 mile ahead. The side trail heads right to the outcropping. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the view. Return to the parking area by retracing your steps south along the A.T.

 

new jersey

suggested ​destination: ​High Point State Park (1.5 hours from New York City)

description:  The highest point in New Jersey is easy to access and on the A.T. the High Point Monument, at 1,803 feet, can be climbed (only 220 stairs) for views of the Pocono and Catskill Mountains, and three different states.

 

suggested hike: High Point Monument

closest town:  Montague, Colesville, NJ/Port Jervis, NY

length:  3 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Moderate - a moderate climb with only one short, steep section.

description:  From the parking lot at the park headquarters, follow the A.T. north, cross New Jersey 23, and reenter the woods. In 0.75 mile, there is a short, steep ascent. In another 0.25 mile, you will reach the observation tower with its commanding view of the area. From the platform, hike 0.25 mile to the blue-blazed trail, and follow it 0.25 mile to the summit (elevation 1,803) and High Point Monument. Retrace your steps after visiting the monument.

 

new york

suggested ​destination: ​Trailside Museums and Zoo at Bear Mountain State Park (1 hour from New York City)

description:  The Trail goes directly through this historic park and zoo with sweeping views of the Hudson River. Learn about local geology, Native American history, and see live reptiles. And don’t miss the bear den exhibit, which is also situated on lowest point on the entire length of the A.T.

 

suggested hike: Great Swamp and Corbin Hill

closest town:  Pawling

length:  2.8 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Easy to Moderate

description:  Walk southward on New York 22 from the parking area, turn right onto a dirt road at 0.1 mile, and cross the railroad tracks at the Appalachian Trail Station. Soon follow puncheon across the wet areas of Great Swamp, crossing Swamp River on a footbridge at 0.4 mile. Cattails grow in great numbers beside the trail. Begin the steady, but gradual climb along the side of Corbin Hill. Open meadows . . . provide the views. It is time to turn around when the trail enters the woods near the top of the rise. Retrace your steps to the parking area.

 

​connecticut

suggested ​destination: ​Connecticut Falls Village Loop Trail (1 hour and 30 minutes from Hartford)

description:  This short, flat one-mile loop partially along the Housatonic River offers an opportunity for a leisurely stroll just outside of the quaint town of Falls Village. It was built to be wheelchair accessible, which makes it great for anyone with mobility impairments too.

 

suggested hike: Lions Head

closest town:  Salisbury

length:  5.6 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Strenuous (including some scrambling)

description:  From Connecticut 41, follow the A.T. north.  In 0.25 mile, pass a water source, the last vestige of the decommissioned Plateau Campsite.  During a 1.5 mile, moderate ascent, cross and re-cross an old road.  The climb can get steep at times.  At mile 2.5, reach the junction with the Lions Head Trail.  Continue following the A.T. and climb the last steep 0.2 mile to the summit of Lions Head.  Hike 0.1 mile farther to the north summit of Lions Head, where you will find views to the north of Bear Mountain and beyond that, of Mount Greylock in Massachusetts.  Retrace your steps to return.

 

​massachusetts

suggested ​destination: ​Mount Greylock State Reservation (2.5 hours from Boston)

description:  Another peak to bag is the highpoint in Massachusetts. At 3,491 feet, Mount Greylock offers 360-degree views and a 100-foot-tall lighthouse with an observation deck. After your stroll, head on over to Bascom Lodge for some snacks and chat with some A.T. hikers.

 

suggested hike: The Cobbles (option 1) and Gore Pond (option 2)

closest town:  Cheshire

length:  2.8 Miles Round Trip or 6.6 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Moderate

description:  This out and back hike includes two options - the Cobbles. Start at the Post Office on Church Street. On your right, you will see a replica of the press used to make Cheshire Cheese in the 1800s. Heading south on the A.T., you will cross railroad tracks in 0.1 mile and then a bridge over the Hoosic River. After crossing the bridge, turn right at a fork in the road. In another 0.1 mile, you will turn right on Furnace Hill Road, a residential street. After another 0.25 mile, you will turn left off Furnace Hill Road near the entrance of a private driveway. For the next 0.75 mile, you will ascend through a hardwood forest, crossing motorcycle and logging trails. You will then arrive at the side trail to the north Cobble immediately after passing under a cliff. The A.T. reaches the top of the southernmost Cobble 0.25 mile later. Here, there is a USGS bronze marker set into the rock. Turn around at this point and retrace your steps.

 

​vermont

suggested ​destination: ​KilIington Peak (1 hour 40 min. from Burlington)

description:  The second highest peak in Vermont, Killington offers views of three different mountain ranges (Green Mountains, White Mountains, and Adirondack Mountains). A gondola ride will elevate you to the 4,220-foot peak.

 

suggested hike: White Rocks

closest town:  Wallingford

length:  4.6 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Moderate to Strenuous

description:  Walk westward a few yards to the A.T., cross VT 40, and use a bridge to get across Roaring Brook. Step over Sugar Hill Road in 0.3 mile and ascend through a hemlock forest to cross Bullly Brook. Stay left on the A.T. where the Keewaydin Trail joins from the right at 1 mile. A blue blazed trail on the left at 1.8 miles leads to Greenwall Shelter in 0.2 mile. Continue to ascend on the A.T., but turn right onto the White Rocks Cliff Trail at 2.1 miles. A steep, rocky descent at 0.2 mile brings you to the cliffs. Retrace your steps to continue.

 

new hampshire

suggested ​destination: ​Mount Washington State Park (2.5 hours from Portland, Maine)

description:  At 6,288 feet, this peak takes you to the highest spot in all of New England. Mount Washington is notorious for its horrible weather, receiving hurricane-force wind gusts almost a third of the year, and of course its famous weather station, the Mount Washington Observatory. From the Trail, the cog railway will take you right to the top.

 

suggested hike: Ethan Pond (3 hours from Boston)

closest town:  Bartlett or Twin Mountain

length:  5.8 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Strenuous (1500 feet in 3.5 miles)

description:  From US 302 in Crawford Notch, follow the A.T. south up Willey House Station Road. Ascend the path to the right of the parking area, cross over railroad tracks, and take the combined A.T./Ethan Pond Trail into the woods. At mile 0.3, reach the intersection of the Arethusa - Ripley Falls, 2.5 miles to Arethusa Falls, and 3.8 miles back to US 302. Continue along the A.T. and ascend rather steeply, then more gradually, for 0.5 mile. At mile 1.4, reach the junction with the Kedron Flume Trail on the right, which descends steeply to the Willey House on US 302. In another 0.25 mile, the A.T./Ethan Pond Trail turns left and the Willey Range Trail goes straight. Continue on the A.T. and reach the height of the land in 0.25 mile. Begin a slight descent along a former logging road and, just over 1 mile late, reach the side trail to Ethan Pond. Retrace your steps to complete the hike.

 

​maine

suggested ​destination: Monson (1 hour and 15 minutes from Bangor)

description:  There are few places where Appalachian Trail hikers are as welcome as in this tiny town on Lake Hebron that serves as the southern gateway to the "100-mile wilderness."  The Lakeshore House offers family-friendly lodging, lakeside dining, and a pub. Former thru-hikers run the legendary Shaw's Hostel, and operate have a small backpacking shop specializing in lightweight gear. A cafe makes donuts fresh every morning.

 

suggested hike: Piazza Rock (2 hours and 15 minutes from Portland)

closest town:  Rangeley

length:  3.8 Miles Round Trip

difficulty:  Moderate (with stream crossings)

description:  Using caution, cross the highway, to start hiking northbound. In 0.1 cross Sandy Stream on a footbridge. The trail ascends steadily at the beginning of this hike, then more gently. Along the way on this woods walk, cross a gravel road at 0.7 and then an old haul road at 1.2 Within 0.3 of the shelter, cross two streams. When you reach the Piazza Rock Shelter, you might be lucky enough to meet the Piazza Rock caretaker, who can tell you about unique features of the area. Piazza Rock, a granite slab projecting through the trees from a cliff, is 200 yards away on a side trail. After the return trip, visit the picturesque A.T. Community of Rangeley, nestled between a lake and a pond. Make a day or overnight of it by visiting the Maine Forestry Museum, taking a guided kayak trip or sunset cruise on the lake, and exploring the one-of-a-kind shops like Ecopelagicon.