Thru Hiking Southbound Compass Icon

southbound (sobo) - maine to georgia

Southbound thru-hikers typically start in June or the first half of July at Katahdin in Maine and finish at Springer Mountain Georgia in November or December.

Southbound Springer Mountain Anne Baker by Jim Baker

A typical southbounder, starting in June or July and finishing in December, can expect:

  • A small number of other southbound thru-hikers for companionship.
  • Starting with Katahdin, a mile-high mountain that requires scrambling and climbing with handholds above treeline.
  • Shortly after, entering the "100-mile wilderness" which has no resupply-making your pack very heavy considering you may be carrying 10 days worth of food.
  • Black flies, muddy trail, and difficult stream crossings in Maine in June.
  • About four weeks of hot, humid weather in the mid-Atlantic states.
  • Fall colors in Virginia.
  • Hiking through hunting season from late October onward.
  • Cold weather during last month or two of hike with snow likely.

 

recommendations and considerations

There is a narrow window of favorable weather in which to complete a southbound thru-hike. Most years, the section of the A.T. on Katahdin does not open until the very end of May or the beginning of June. Although better conditions in Maine come later in the summer, the days are shorter. Cold temperatures, snow, and ice can occur in late October in the high mountains of the southern Appalachians.

a word of caution

A southbound thru-hike is recommended only for experienced and fit backpackers who are looking for an extreme physical challenge right at the start. A southbound thru-hike starts with the most difficult climb on the entire A.T. (Katahdin), the most remote section of trail (100-mile wilderness), and the two most challenging states of the Trail (Maine and New Hampshire). As of mid-2014, only about 1,250 people have reported completion of the A.T. southbound.