Plan and Prepare

Four Quick Tips for Summer A.T. Hikes

June 17, 2022

Warm weather, long days, and vacations make summer a great time to plan a hike on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This time of year also poses some unique challenges that you should be prepared for before you head out on the Trail.

  • Bring the Right Gear – Light, sun-reflective clothing can help you stay cool and prevent heat-related illnesses, and wearing a hat and sunscreen protects you from sunburns. Avoid hiking in cotton — which does not wick sweat away from your body and can lead to chafing — and do not stay in wet clothing. Even if daytime temperatures leave you sweating, wet clothing can be dangerous when temperatures dip at higher elevations or when the sun goes down. Consider bringing an extra base layer to change into and always include an insulating layer and rain jacket in your pack regardless of the season.
  • Stay Hydrated – Warmer weather means more sweat. Bring more than enough water for your hike and consider carrying electrolytes — you may need more than three quarts a day. If you are going out for a longer excursion, bring a water filter or purifying tablets and mark water sources on a map.
  • Start Your Hike Early – Hitting the trail in the early morning allows you to avoid hiking in the hottest parts of the day. Summer means crowded trailheads and starting early can help you get in and out before parking becomes an issue. Hiking during the week is also a good way to find solitude on the Trail.
  • Check the Forecast – Hot, humid conditions are common along the Trail in the summer. Plan ahead and be conservative if the heat index is high. The weather can change rapidly at higher elevations, and thunderstorms are prevalent in the summer. Know what to do in the event of a thunderstorm, and always check the weather before you head out.

Photo by Woody Harrell

Regardless of the season, always carry the 10 essentials and recreate responsibly while you enjoy the A.T.

Looking for more tips for planning your A.T. adventures? Check out our Hiker Resource Library for advice on everything from planning a day hike to preparing for a full thru-hike of the Trail.