What is the Appalachian Trail?

The Appalachian Trail, also called the A.T., is the longest hiker-only footpath in the world.  It runs through 14 states through the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States from Georgia to Maine.  The trail is approximately 2,190 miles long and crosses through two national parks: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Shenandoah National Park.  Most of the trail passes through wooded forests, but some parts travel through small towns, farmland, roadways, and over rocky mountain peaks.  The A.T. is home to an abundance of wildlife, including the American black bear and the Eastern timber rattlesnake, as well as many bird species, squirrels, beavers, porcupines, chipmunks, raccoons, and more! Much of the forests are blanketed in beautiful springtime wildflowers.  Each year, more than 3 million people visit some section of the A.T. and over 3,000 people attempt to "thru-hike" the entire trail from end to end, with only 20-25% completing the entire trek.  

What kind of gear do I need to go backpacking?

To go backpacking, you'll need a backpack, a tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, trekking poles, water filtration and cooking supplies, hiking clothes, comfortable shoes, and food for your trip.  Your guide will provide you with a detailed gear list and recommendations before your trip.  You'll also have a chance to ask questions and get advice during your Pre-Hike Virtual Orientation. 

What if I don't have all the gear I need?

No worries! Our Beginner Backpacking Trips include a gear rental package with high quality backpacking gear.  Our longer trips don't include gear rental, but you can add it on to your purchase if needed.  We offer backpacks, tents, sleeping pads and sleeping bags, trekking poles, water filtration, and cook kits.

Do I need to be in good shape to go hiking?

Backpacking is a challenging sport! You'll need to carry a backpack that weighs 25-30 pounds over mountainous terrain for most of the day.  Some parts of the trail include long uphill and downhill sections.  To be able to hike comfortably and lower your risk of injury, you should be able to walk around your neighborhood for several miles without taking breaks and climb several flights of stairs.  However, we welcome all fitness levels, and will adjust mileage and break times to fit the needs of each hiker.  If you're new to backpacking, check out one of our Beginner Backpacking Trips first.

What can I do to physically prepare for a backpacking trip?

If you want to prepare for your backpacking trip, here are some ideas:

  • Go for long walks in your neighborhood
  • Walk to work or school instead of driving
  • Get on some of your local hiking trails
  • Load a backpack with some heavy items and walk with it
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Spend some time on a stair climber at a gym

Will I see a bear? How do I protect myself from bears?

Black bears are common in the Appalachian Mountains, and it's possible to see one on your hiking trip.  However, black bears are generally afraid of humans and will run off before you ever get to see them.  If you encounter a black bear, you can wave your arms and make loud noises to scare it off.  You generally don't need to carry bear spray or weapons to protect yourself from black bears. 

To be safe, leave scented items at home (such as deodorant and scented lotions) and properly store all food at camp each night.  Bear canisters are recommended by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, but you can also hang a bear bag with your food at night.  Your guide will help you decide the best way to store food and scented items on trail.

What if I get lost or injured while hiking?

Your guide will be familiar with your hiking route, and will be using a map and/or a digital GPS to keep you on track.  The Appalachian Trail is very well marked, with painted white blazes on the trees along the trail.  All of our guides are trained in Wilderness First Aid and carry an emergency GPS beacon if something should happen.

What kind of food do I need to bring?

Food choices are very personal and will depend on the length of your trip and time of year.  You will generally want to bring foods that are non-perishable, lightweight, and calorie-dense.  Your guide will provide you with a detailed list that includes sample menus and ideas for what to pack.  You'll also be able to ask questions and get advice during your Pre-Hike Virtual Orientation.

What if it rains?

We hike rain or shine! The weather can change quickly in the mountains, especially at higher elevations.  You'll want to be prepared with rain gear and dry layers to put on at camp.  Your guide will give you ideas and recommendations during your Pre-Hike Virtual Orientation. 

In the case of severe weather, such as heavy thunderstorms or snowstorms, your guide may need to adjust your trip itinerary or reschedule a trip.  More details about this are in our cancellation policy. 

What is the cancellation policy?

  • Your trip cost includes a non-refundable booking deposit.  The remainder of the cost is due 1 week prior to the trip.  Trips may be canceled up to 1 week before the start date for a refund, minus the deposit.  Within 1 week of the trip, a 50% refund will be offered for cancellations.  No refunds will be offered for cancellations within 48 hours of the trip start date.
  • We hike rain or shine! Backpacking is a challenging endurance sport, and it can be uncomfortable during inclement weather.  We do our best to make sure hikers are adequately prepared for adverse weather.  However, safety is our biggest priority.  In the case of severe weather that could affect the safety of our hikers, our guides have the discretion to cancel a trip.  In this case, full refunds will be offered or vouchers given to reschedule.

Should I tip my guide?

Tipping is not required, but is much appreciated by our guides!  If you feel that your guide did an excellent job, you may offer a tip at the end of your trip.  The industry standard for tipping backpacking guides is 10-20% of the cost of the trip.

Do you offer any discounts?

Yes!  We offer 15% teacher discounts and 15% military discounts for our backpacking trips.  If you are interested in receiving a discount, contact us for a discount code. 


Have other questions?

Send us an email and we'd be happy to help!

  • Appalachian Trail Week-Long Trips

    Hike alongside an experienced backpacking guide to explore the beautiful woodlands and the mountain views on the Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking-only footpath in the world!

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  • Women's Backpacking Trips

    These guided backpacking trips were created for women, by women! Explore the outdoors and enjoy backpacking within a safe, supportive environment surrounded by adventure-driven women like yourself.

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  • Beginner Backpacking Trips

    These guided backpacking trips are perfect for anyone that is new to backpacking. Explore the wilderness while hiking over beautiful mountain tops and camping in the woods. All fitness levels are welcome and gear is included on these short weekend adventures!

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Explore the Wild with an Experienced Backpacking Guide

Hi, I'm Nicole, founder of Wildwood Hiking Company! I started Wildwood after completing my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2022, a 2,194 mile trek from Georgia to Maine over the course of 6 months. My time on the trail was life-changing and empowering, and my experiences helped me gain the strength and courage to go out and build a life I love! I hope to share the joy and beauty of nature with others through backpacking.