If you’re thinking about thru-hiking or section hiking the Appalachian Trail, make sure you take a buy the latest A.T. Guide, written and compiled by David Miller (trail name AWOL).
The Guide has town maps, GPS coordinates to trail heads, mail drop instructions, sections on town and trail etiquette, elevation profile guidelines, all shelters, and water sources, printed in 2 page mileage spreads so that you can see 44 miles of trail at a glance.
In addition, an unbound version is available (in addition to northbound and southbound versions) for those of you who only want to carry a few pages at a time, but don’t want to tear the book apart.
Behind the Curtain
Besides being a comprehensive guide to the AT and its supporting services, what I really think it amazing about the Guide is the way in which David collects and manages all of the information in it. There is an enormous amount of information in the Guide about the trail itself, hiker hostels, restaurants, resupply options, health care, vets, transportation, outfitters, gear manufacturers, water sources, shelters, and so on.
This is a guy who is making a lot of phone calls to keep this information up to date, in addition to visiting trail towns, and handing out GPS devices to thru-hikers who send him back coordinates to include in the book. I know some map makers, and trust me, this kind of information management is an art form.
On top of keeping all of this data organized, accurate and linked together (map and GPS coordinates, elevation data and town services), David is invested in making the Guide easy to use and read, applying the visual principles of Edward Tufte to the display and organization of the information on the page. It shows.
Section Hiking with the A.T. Guide
Whenever I section hike the AT, I bring the relevant pages from the A.T. Guide with me. While the ATC maps are great for following the trail, they’re pretty limited in their ability to help me find shuttles to town or services when I get there. That’s where the A.T. Guide really shines.
The AT Guide gives me exactly the information I need to get in and get out of Trail towns for resupply stops with exactly what I need, eliminating the potential misfires and doubt that always accompany a trip off the trail.
I consider the AT Guide to be one of the 10 essentials for hiking the Appalachian Trail and you will too once you use it!
Disclosure: The author has received a complementary copy of the A.T. Guide, but has been using the guide since 2010 and would willingly endorse it anyway.
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