Road trip down the Appalachian Trail (1 Week)

With over 2,000 miles of hiking trails, there are plenty of opportunities to hop out of the car and explore the outdoors along the Appalachian Trail.

  • 40
  • 33:24
  • 1,558 mi
  • $286
Take This Trip

Created by Rebecca Radnor - April 24th 2016

The historic Appalachian trail is the world's longest, continuously-marked trail. With over 2,000 miles of hiking trails, there are plenty of opportunities to hop out of the car and explore the outdoors. The trail starts in Maine and then winds down through fourteen states, and officially ends in Georgia. Some people prepare for months to actually hike the entire length of the trail, which has been around since the 1920s, and is a permanent part of America's hiking heritage. But, it's also pretty fun to drive the Trail, which is divided into three major sections: New England, Mid-Atlantic, and the Southern Appalachias. The New England stretch of the trail takes you from Maine to New Hampshire, a bit of Vermont, and Connecticut. The Mid-Atlantic states include New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Then you'll hit the Southern Appalachias, which include Virginia and West Virginia, then over to Tennessee and down to North Carolina and Georgia.

Photo of Grafton Notch State Park
4.4

1941 Bear River Rd, Newry, ME, US

Grafton Notch State Park

Beginning in the New England section of the Appalachian Trail, a few breathtaking highlights in the area include Baxter State Park and the White Mountain National Forest. The trail picks up again in eastern Vermont and goes up to the New York-Connecticut border, this section of the trail is much less difficult than the northernmost segment for hikers. Expect to see many stone walls from previously existing structures such as farm buildings. This section also contains some hiking through gorgeous farmland and lovely pastoral views. Consider resting your legs at the waterfalls in Gifford Woods State Forest Park or Kent Falls State Park. Maine's Grafton Notch State Park is a major highlight of this section, and actually the perfect place to start your Appalachian Trail road trip, surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and gorges.

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44mi 00h 52m
Photo of Mt Washington Auto Road
4.5

1 Mount Washington Auto Road, Gorham, NH, US

Mt Washington Auto Road

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After Grafton Notch, plan on driving the Mt Washington Auto Road in New Hampshire, which is a seasonal byway, along which you'll find mountain tours, a gift shop and cafe.

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12mi 00h 15m
Photo of Story Land
4.5

850 NH Route 16, Bartlett, NH, US

Story Land

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While in New Hampshire visit Story Land, a super quirky theme park that was founded by Bob and Ruth Morell after they had bought huge dolls from Germany. Their park is based on these massive storybook dolls.

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15mi 00h 20m
Photo of Crawford Notch State Park
4.3

Crawford Notch Road, NH, US

Crawford Notch State Park

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Next up, is Crawford Notch State Park. This 5,700-acre park has loads of hiking trails, a few waterfalls and insanely gorgeous mountain views. There's also a campground onsite. And a little ways down the road is Gifford Woods State Forest Park, which also features Appalachian trail camping.

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30mi 00h 37m

672 Rte 117 (Sugar Hill Rd), Bethlehem, NH, US

Polly's Pancake Parlor

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The New England portion of the Appalachian Trail offers plenty of delicious places to eat. There's Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, NH, which is famous for its pancakes, obviously, but also its ambiance, as it's set in an early 1800s building that provides fantastic mountain views. A little drive away is the Sunny Day Diner in Lincoln, NH or the Blue Benn Diner in Bennington, VT, which is a classic 1945 railcar diner, where you can play some tunes on the jukebox while you eat all-day breakfast.

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98mi 01h 60m
Photo of Inn Of The Six Mountains
4.7

2617 Killington Road, Killington, VT, US

Inn Of The Six Mountains

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When you're ready to call it a day, head to Crawford Notch Campground in the White Mountain National Forest, or lakeside Loch Lyme Lodge, which offers cabins and cottages. Inn Of The Six Mountains in Killington is another great choice. The resort is surrounded by the Green Mountains, and if you're visiting during winter for skiing, they provide free shuttle service to the slopes.

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82mi 01h 44m
Photo of Maple Terrace Motel
4.5

555 Main St, Williamstown, MA, US

Maple Terrace Motel

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Or you could spend the night in luxury at the Four Chimney's Inn in Bennington, VT, which is housed in a beautiful 1913 mansion, on 11 acres, and just a few minutes walk from The Bennington Museum and the Bennington Battle Monument. Lastly, the Maple Terrace Motel in Williamstown, MA will make you feel right at home with simple rooms decorated in a charming country theme.

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24mi 00h 37m
Photo of Arrowhead Museum
4.7

780 Holmes Rd, Pittsfield, MA, US

Arrowhead Museum

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Once you hit Massachusetts, head to Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams, to learn about the history of this part of Massachusetts. And a can't-miss museum is the Arrowhead Museum, which is the name of Herman Melville's House (the writer of "Moby Dick").

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30mi 00h 50m
Photo of Bash Bish Falls State Park
4.5

Falls Rd. Mt. Washington State Forest, MA, US

Bash Bish Falls State Park

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Over in Hancock, MA is the historic Hancock Shaker Village, which was established in 1791, and Bash Bish Falls State Park, home to Massachusetts' highest single-drop waterfall.

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20mi 00h 34m

53 Main St, Canaan, CT, US

Collins Diner

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Before you leave Massachusetts, if you're hungry, there's East Side Cafe in Pittsfield, which has been a local favorite since the 1950s. Or, over in Connecticut, there's Collins Diner, a classic retro aluminum diner in Canaan.

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20mi 00h 28m
Photo of Kent Falls State Park
4.0

Kent Ct, Cornwall Bridge, CT, US

Kent Falls State Park

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Mount Washington State Forest is one of the prettiest forests along the route, and lies in the southern part of the Taconic Mountain range. Then take a leisurely stroll across the covered bridge at Kent Falls State Park, and hike to the cascading waterfalls.

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52mi 01h 14m

1 Museum Rd , New Windsor, NY, US

Storm King Art Center

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The Mid-Atlantic section of the Appalachian Trail weaves in and out of some heavily populated urban areas, but the trail retains a feeling of remoteness as it passes to the west of major cities like Philadelphia or New York City. For hikers traveling through this section, the Mid-Atlantic makes it easy to resupply considering its proximity to so many cities. Dig the beautiful scenery at New York's Bear Mountain State Park and Pennyslvania's stunning Pinnacle Overlook. Plan to make a stop at Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, NY. It's a fun outdoor, open-air museum where you can easily spend an afternoon wandering around exhibits.

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49mi 00h 59m

301 Broad St, Milford, PA, US

Milford Diner

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If you get hungry, head to Milford Diner for traditional, home-cooked diner food, set in a very cool colonial-themed diner.

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14mi 00h 33m
Photo of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
4.5
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Next you'll come to Bear Mountain State Park in Tomkins Cove, it's 5,000 acres of scenic beauty located on the Hudson River. Also, nearby Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is one of New Jersey's best-kept secrets. It's forty lush miles of the middle Delaware River, surrounded by forests and rolling hills and river inlets.

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36mi 01h 12m

Rte 46, Buttzville, NJ, US

Hot Dog Johnny's

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If you're a hot dog connoisseur, in Belvidere, NJ there's Hot Dog Johnny's, which will make you tingle with retro road food nostalgia.

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33mi 00h 45m
Photo of Historic Hotel Bethlehem
4.5

437 Main St, Bethlehem, PA, US

Historic Hotel Bethlehem

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When you're ready to pull over for the night, Pennsylvania's Historic Hotel Bethlehem is a beautiful boutique hotel, that's also pet-friendly, and has an onsite ice cream shoppe.

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47mi 00h 60m
Photo of Friends of The Daniel Boone Homestead
4.4

400 Daniel Boone Rd, Birdsboro, PA, US

Friends of The Daniel Boone Homestead

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For a history kick, head over to the Friends of The Daniel Boone Homestead in Birdsboro, PA, where it feels like you've stepped back in time. It's a fantastic place to learn about the culture of Oley Valley during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Also nearby is the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Elverson, and the beautiful Ephrata Cloister, in Lancaster County, PA.

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44mi 00h 58m
Photo of Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant
3.6

312 Paradise Ln, Ronks, PA, US

Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant

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For a quirkier place to sleep, there's the Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant in Ronks, PA, which is located on 10 acres in Amish Country. Here you can sleep in a historic train car and caboose, which comes with flat-screen TVs, and some come with their own private deck. There's also an onsite country restaurant, petting zoo and buggy rides are also offered. Be warned, the Red Caboose Motel closes in winter.

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30mi 00h 37m

197 Shoe House Rd, York, PA, US

Haines Shoe House

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Next along the route is the Haines Shoe House in Stonybrook. This is a great place for a photo op. The house was initially built by a shoe salesman as an advertisement for his business, today it's a quirky, but iconic, roadside attraction.

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46mi 01h 09m
Photo of Appalachian Trail Museum
4.7

1120 Pine Grove Rd, Gardners, PA, US

Appalachian Trail Museum

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Next up is the Appalachian Trail Museum in Gardners, PA, which has been dedicated to protecting the legends and stories of the community of hikers who work to preserve and protect the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail, since its creation in 1923. The museum is located along Pennsylvania’s Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The museum itself was built over two hundred years ago, and at that time was used as a grist mill. Today it’s across from one of the most famous points of the Appalachian Trail, the Pine Grove General Store, which is traditionally the half-way mark, and where hikers stop to attempt the famous ritual of trying to eat half a gallon of ice cream in one sitting. Today the museum currently exhibits over 13,000 images of hikers who have passed though the area over the years, and they also have a trail shelter built by famous hiking legend Earl Shafer. In 1948 Shafer was the first person to hike the entire trail and has gone down in hiker glory.

BEST TIME TO TRAVEL THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL: The best time to drive down the Appalachian Trail is in the fall. Many places are seasonal along the route, and some are closed in winter, also some roads will be closed seasonally as well. Summer can be hot, but autumn is pretty much perfect. From September through mid-November the leaves will be changing and provide a gorgeous backdrop to your journey.