Explore Appalachian Trail: Best Day Hikes - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This month marks the 80th anniversary of the Appalachian Trail, which passes through 14 states from Maine to Georgia. With so many access points along its approximate 2,190-mile route, this trail is not only an excellent option for thru-hikers and section-hikers, but also day-hikers and those looking to escape into nature for a few hours. To honor the Appalachian Trail, we have compiled a list of our favorite day hikes along the AT. Check out this list and help us celebrate the legacy and natural wonder of this trail!

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The elevation made it tough, but my 7 y/o daughter and I had a great time.

Best hike I've ever done in 40 plus years of being alive.
Time this hike around rhododendron and azalea season in mid June and you'll say the same thing. From the start at Carver's Gap, the AT wastes little time in the WOW factor as the trail ascends the incredible Round Bald which is a haven for Catawba Rhodo's and azaleas. After a brief dip at Engine Gap, the AT ascends the smaller ,but equally beautiful Jane Bald. By the time you reach Grassy Ridge Bald your senses will be in overdrive.

After a section through wooded areas, the AT comes near the Overmountain Shelter, which is a must to check out, then a steep ascent Yellow Mountain, and then the grand finale-the awesome ascent up Little Hump and Big Hump mountains. Both are vast balds that have awesome, grand views from the top. The AT, after the Humps, descends the Roans down to Doll Flats through a knee shredder of steep rock steps and rooty surfaces.

It's just an epic hike that we plan on doing every June, and probably October. Wonderful views of Mount Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain and countless other peaks and ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Fantastic hike and awesome view! Quite heavily trafficked (crowded) on a Friday. Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club member staffed the parking lot with trail info and water.

This was our favorite hike in the Smoky’s! We included the Jump Off on our way to Charles Bunion (an extra 0.6 mile). The trail starts at the Newfound Gap parking lot, and it’s about 4.4 miles until the Charles Bunion lookout, which is absolutely breathtaking. We could have spent all day at the lookout! Highly recommend.

Very nice work out with exquisite climbing portions and wonderful views

One of my favorites in the area!

We did it twice. First day was gorgeous. Today was cool and rainy! Take rain coats or wind breakers because the weather is not always predictable! Great hike.

Did it today visa the Lower Hawsksbill parking lot and Salamander trail. Lots of amazing views! The rocky outcropping at the summit is a fun (optional) scramble. This one seemed to be a popular one for families

Great place. Steep at places, but well worth the view.

my favorite hike so far! beautiful

Well we started at 9AM to attempt both summits with our dog / mountain goat and it was just too hot for the poor guy so we made it to Lonesome Lake and ended the hike there.

ABSOLUTELY stunning hiking from the trail it’s self to the incredible lake! We will definitely be doing this again and finishing the two summits just have to leave our fur baby behind:( or we will camp next attempt.

Definitely steeper than we thought from the start but again well worth it! Also we did this in June so don’t forget your bug spray!!!

Can’t wait to do it again and complete the rest of the review!!

Nice summer trail.Take the AT scenic route(White marked) from trailhead bottom & descend via non white marked gradual down path.

Amazing views of the Hudson River valley and Bear Mountain

Truly an amazing hike! Started early in the morning to beat the heat, and we stayed cool the whole way. Parts of the trail are definitely rocky and lots of exposed roots at times, but nothing you can’t get past. We are not experienced hikers, and had an easy time getting up the rocks. Something I loved about this trail was the gradual incline it has. Nothing too steep, which made it quite easy to hike. And then the view at the end is absolutely unbeatable. I highly suggest this trail to anyone who’s looking for great views the whole way! Also, look out for squirrels haha one jumped right in front of me on the trail and scared me pretty good. They’re stealthy, but cute!

Very nice trail, marked well, an easy hike for an avid hiker with slow uphill gain.

One our go to trails. Love it. Must get there early.

Loved it! Spectacular views. I have arthritis in my knees, hips and lower back. It was easier going up than coming down. The slope coming down put a lot of pressure on my hips and back. My 5 year old niece handled it no problem.

If you’re doing the loop, I would do the AT up and the fire road down. The AT was fun hike, but you
get a lot of noise from the highway. Fire road was much easier, but more peaceful.

Very shady and generally easygoing. A few nice peaks to stop at as well.

hiking
11 days ago

The Hudson Valley is an incredible place, you have to visit here. We had four young kids with us and they all did great.. Awesome view of the valley. Check out my full write up which includes directions and things to look out for.
http://www.eastcoasthiker.com/trails/anthonysnose

hiking
11 days ago

This is a great hike along the Appalachian Trail. Incredible views and a great workout. Check out my full write up that includes directions and things to look out for.
http://www.eastcoasthiker.com/trails/mountminsi

I know this is the hike everyone in VA talks about, and rightfully so, but they are far better hikes in Virginia. The view is great, but the reason people love this hike is so they can sit on the edge of the overhanging rock and get a picture, plain and simple. The hike to the overlook is not very strenuous or entertaining. It’s easy to moderate and rather boring. This is a good trail, but not up to the hype that preceded it.

For a hike of similar length, Old Rag Mountain is superior. Fun hike with a mixture of a wooded trail and lots of rock scrambling. Panoramic views.

A shorter hike to mention is Sharp Top Mountain which also has panoramic views and a more strenuous hike than Mcafee at half the distance.

Loved this hike! Several smaller overlooks to stop at before hitting the summit and neat changes in landscape. This might be a new Shenandoah favorite. Took three pups and they all did well.

Definitely one of the prettier trails I've done! But I think something needs to be made crystal clear: The Zealand trail to the AMC hut is the easy part. In NO way is the Zeacliff trail beyond it to the summit of Mt Zealand considered easy. It's definitely a steep, rocky and moderate trail. My friend and I were one of the few people who tackled it without trekking poles and while I don't think they are necessary it's clear many others did.

The cliff has a lovely view and the day was utterly perfect! the trail was beautifully maintained but the number of bridges was a surprise. A really pretty hike on a trail that was not overly busy. Definitely recommend.

Very nice out and back trail.

Got there early in the morning with a slight drizzle. We hiked the easier section to make the summit and when the rain began to come down rather steady. On the way down, we moved down along the ridge line. This portion is much more rocky and challenging with multiple switchbacks and narrow paths, but is marked well.

Even with the rain, we ran into multiple groups oh hikers both day trippers and Appalachian Trail through hikers. The views from the summit and multiple vistas are spectacular.

Completed in a little under four hours and that was at pretty leisurely pace. Would definitely do it again.

Absolutely stunning! So glad we finally got to do this hike! We’ll definitely be back. Maybe for a longer overnight hike! We got lucky and had great weather. Chatted with a few kind strangers. Ooh’d and ahh’d ....our blue heeler mix went with us. She wasn’t a fan of the rocky path but did enjoy her mountain top hike. We started at about 1030-11a. It was definitely more crowded on our way back out around 1:30-2p.

A very fun little day hike, great for dogs and kids. Our 8 year old daughter has been hiking this with us since she was 6. Plan on about 3-4 hours, depending on how many breaks and how long you break for. Pretty views along the way. On summit most days you get an impressive view of Mount Washington.

You’ll want bug spray.

this hike is really 9.7 miles! but had a blast today. perfect conditions. did it in 5 hours!

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