Sneak Peek: 2016 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Stats

There was a lot of talk this time last year about what to expect from a record-breaking 2016 season. Thanks to an onslaught of sustainability efforts, LNT initiatives, and encouraging of non-traditional thru-hikes, the Trail community was on top of it. We checked in with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and got the numbers for what the 2016 season actually looked like.* The numbers were record-breaking indeed, so let’s put our hands together for everyone who did their part to leave the Trail better than they found it. Here’s a sampling of the overall numbers from this past year.

Note: Not all hikes have been reported, so these numbers are best guesses based on current reporting. 

Northbound Thru-Hikers


NOBO thru-hikers accounted for 77.6% of 2016 thru-hikers

3,377 : NOBO thru-hikers (estimated) who started in Georgia: 25% increase over 2015 NOBO starts
1,537: NOBO thru-hikers photographed at ATC Headquarters in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
1,231: NOBO thru-hikers registered in Baxter State Park, Maine: 23% increase over 2015 NOBO finishers

These finishers represent 36% of hikers who started a NOBO thru-hike, which is a higher ratio than the popular assumption of a 20-25% success rate.

Southbound Thru-Hikers


SOBO thru-hikers accounted for 11.26% of 2016 thru-hikers 

490: SOBO thru-hikers who started in Baxter State Park: 19% increase over 2015 SOBO starts
259: SOBO thru-hikers photographed at ATC Headquarters in Harpers Ferry: 34% increase over 2015 

Harper’s Ferry represents 53% of SOBO starters. We have not been provided with the completion numbers for SOBOs as of publication.  


Flip-Flop Thru-Hikers

485: Hikers who registered their intention to start a flip-flop in 2016:
366: Hikers photographed at ATC Headquarters
~98: Started in Georgia
~268: Started mid-trail (generally Virginia or West Virginia)

The ATC noted the surprising amount of starting locations used by 2016 Flip-Floppers. The ATC noted dozens of locations to start and finish flip-flop hikes, ranging mid-trail from North Carolina all the way up to New England.

The ATC’s online registration initiative was a success, with 70% of NOBO thru-hikers registering their intent to hike, as well as their starting location and date. This helped spread the start dates out, and allowed thru-hiker hopefuls to see the less-busy intended start dates. In total, over 3,000 people registered their intention to thru-hike. Let’s keep that trend going! Check out the 2017 registration charts here.


*All 2016 numbers courtesy ATC, January 18 2017. All 2015 numbers were taken from an ATC report from December 18, 2015

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Comments 3

  • Jack : Oct 11th

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