Trail Preparation

Your A.T. Adventure Awaits

February 25, 2022

Page updated on November 17, 2023

The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is a beloved resource. We hope through this hiker preparation series that you’ve enjoyed learning about the many ways you can help protect the A.T. experience and how you can have a safe, enjoyable visit to the Trail.

For those preparing to set off on your A.T. adventure, double-check your prep against our final checklist.

  • You’ve registered your hike on and have been monitoring your start date.
  • You’ve read through the Hiker Resource Library to learn the basics for visiting the A.T.
  • You’ve read about and practiced applying Leave No Trace principles to your hike.
  • You know what permits you need for certain sections of the Trail and have read up on the permit changes and new fees in Shenandoah National Park.
  • You’ve subscribed to receive updates from the ATC, including important Trail Updates and alerts.

Campfire Safety

The spring fire season in the southeastern U.S. coincides with peak northbound thru-hiker season (late February through early April). There have been several wildfires along the A.T. in the south the past few springs. Use extra caution when building fires and using camp stoves, and know the campfire regulations along the A.T. before you head out.

Want to refresh your knowledge before heading out? Catch up on our hiker preparation series. 

NOBOs Know Before You Go:
Amicalola Falls State Park

Photo by Kristi McFarlin

Photo by Charissa Hipp

The start date for your northbound (NOBO) A.T. thru-hike has arrived and you get dropped off at Amicalola Falls State Park. Now what?

Hikers can pick up their A.T. hangtags and listen to the Start Smart presentation at Amicalola Falls State Park Visitor Center.

Starting in early February, volunteers with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club are set up in the Arch Room of the visitor center to hand out hangtags and talk with hikers. If you see a sign directing A.T. hikers to Basecamp, head on over! Basecamp is generally open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm during peak NOBO season. Hangtags are typically delivered for the year in early February.

Be sure to sign the Amicalola Falls State Park register – they have a register for thru-hikers and one for section hikers. Tip: bring your ATCamp registration number with you for a faster, smoother registration at the park.

If your hike will begin before Basecamp is open, be sure to still sign in at the park’s register. By the time you reach Damascus, VA, hangtags should be available at the Damascus Trail Center.

Flip Flop hikers, click here to learn more about what to expect at the start of your hike. SOBOs, read our primer on starting in Baxter State Park.


Visit Us During Your A.T. Hike

Stop by the Damascus Trail Center to learn more about the ATC, the town of Damascus, and the surrounding area.


Photo by Charissa Hipp

Visit ATC Headquarters and Visitor Center in Harpers Ferry to chat with ATC staff and volunteers. Plus, get your photo taken on our front porch!

Stop by the ATC Visitor Center in Monson when it opens in June to learn about the 100 Mile Wilderness, finishing well at Baxter State Park, and, for SOBOs, southern Maine and the White Mountains.


We want your feedback! Tell us what you thought of the hiker preparation series.

Have questions about preparing for your upcoming hike? Submit a question to us directly at

Catch the rest of the series here.


A long-distance hike on the A.T. is an incredible experience. Thank you for your help in protecting the A.T. experience by utilizing the tips and guidance from this series and, most of all, enjoy your journey!

Happy Trails!