Having the chance to hike the Appalachian Trail means having the badge of honor as a thru-hiker for the rest of one's life. It's not an easy hike by any means, and potential hikers will need to prepare accordingly. To walk this path that so many others have invested blood, sweat, and tears into is like taking a step back in time, to a period where life was simple and all that mattered was the present moment.

Spanning from Georgia to Maine, it's the longest continuous hike in the US and takes roughly six months to complete. It's the hiker's choice whether they begin or end in either state, however, it's more common to begin in Georgia and end in Maine, coinciding with easier weather and a less-technical hike to the top of Katahdin, which lends itself to breathtaking mountain views. This summit signifies the final push of the hike, officially giving way to one of the greatest physical feats in the country.

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Roughly 2,200 Miles Of Mixed Terrain

Taking on this six-month hike is not an easy decision, nor is it one that everyone will be capable of. With determination, motivation, and willpower, though, many people complete it and exceed their own expectations.

Hiking the AT means being ready for anything - from snowcapped mountain summits to rock scrambling, and even heavy brush. Despite all of these challenges, what keeps many hikers going is the sheer beauty and serenity that is the Appalachian Trail. It was finally hiked through for the first time in 1937, after an idea by Benton MacKaye, who was a forester. Little did anyone know, it would soon become one of the most well-known hikes in the country, and even in the world.

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Many Of The Highlights Are Mountain Summits

The highlights we know today were not necessarily part of the trail in 1937, and many parts of the AT were re-routed or redesigned. Roan Mountain, Mount Rogers highlands, Pochuck Creek Swamp, Nuclear Lake, Thundering Falls, and Saddleback Mountain were included at a later date.

These additions account for some of the major views of the AT and much of what propels hikers through their journey. It truly is a life-changing and soul-searching mission; a way to connect with nature by a means that society no longer recognizes as common.

All it takes is coming up on one of these summits or stepping out into a beautiful field of wildflowers to know that there's no other experience quite like this one. While some might think it's crazy to spend half a year in the wilderness, to others, it's simply a way of life and part of their personal journey. Anyone who has done day or weekend hikes knows that the humbling feeling of accomplishment, strength, and empowerment is ten-fold when it comes to hiking a trail such as this.

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The Trail Does Extend Past It's "End" Point

Although the journey usually ends in Maine (or Georgia) for most, there are extensions that a hiker can take if they so choose. The International Appalachian Trail runs straight into Canada and adds another 1,900 miles, ending in Forillon National Park, Quebec.

Unofficial extensions exist even further into Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island, with some options leading to Greenland and Morocco, and Europe. The southern end of the trail can continue into Alabama to end at Flagg Mountain.

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