I’m Tackling the Appalachian Trail in 2024 at 70+

How did I get myself into this? Really. I’m over 70, for crying out loud.  (How did I get to 70+?  Wasn’t I only 35 a few years ago?  Hmm…)

A long time ago in a galaxy far way

Growing up in Connecticut, I went with my family on family camping trips in the summer where I was introduced to hiking.  And, well, kids can go hike forever.  Parents, not so much – so I never tired out before my parents did. It all seemed so wonderful. During college years, I had a summer job with a general contractor lugging garbage cans out to the street twice a week, mowing lawns and digging up 80-year-old cesspool covers whose location was no longer known in a summer community. In other words, well over 100 miles per week plus hard labor. Breaks to the mountains and the mysterious Appalachian Trail were joyous occasions.  At that point, knocking out 20 miles in the White Mountains was a breeze without having a 50-lb garbage can in each hand…

Even 10 years ago, 20-mile hikes on the AT while living in northern Virginia were still a breeze.  Well, that was without a pack. Still, I hadn’t given up my dream of hiking the AT.

Always ready for adventure!

What’s Changed?

What’s changed in the 50 years since my dream?

The positives:

  1. Resupply is so much easier,
  2. Navigation is no longer a challenge,
  3. Equipment is lighter and friendlier.

The negatives:

  1. Everyone and their grandfather are now out hiking the AT. (Oops that’s me!)
  2. I’m 50 years older, and all those things I did to myself (when I thought I was indestructible at age 20) are now coming back to talk to me…


OK, I have been planning this trip at a low level for some time now, but not too intensely. Recently, taking heart from bloggers such as Nan a 70+ year-old woman who finished a few years ago, and Scott Morrison a couple years ago whose flip-flop mirrors my plan, I upped my research. But the biggest catalyst is my son who finished the PCT SOBO (“Smiles”) last year. He essentially knocked out 80% of the research that I had left – mostly around gear and approach to long term backpacking. Meanwhile, my wife wanted to visit friends back East, so the universe aligned.  Thanks to my whole family for their support!

Always have the best coaching staff for the outdoors.

And Away We Go!

I decided this is the year, and acted on it. Intention and action. I’m sure it will go wonderfully.  So I’m off on about May 1st from Harper’s Ferry!   See you on the Trail!

If we hike the AT, you have to FEED ME!

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Comments 25

  • Kelly McCarthy : Apr 12th

    Happy trails and safe travels! Slow and steady will get it done. I’m a 61 year old distance runner who doesn’t over train, and I get good results and stay mostly injury free. Daily physical therapy exercises are a must. Thank you for sharing your hike with all of the Trek readers 😊

  • Jim : Apr 13th

    As a 68 year old man who has fantasized for decades about hiking the AT, I will be looking forward to every blog you write! I wish you all the best as you take on this enormous challenge. I’m also curious about your choice of a flip flop versus a traditional NOBO. Maybe you could discuss this in a blog.

  • Lisa : Apr 13th

    Im 70 and recovering from a new hip and knee. Hiked the smokies part of the at in 1979. No cellphones,etc just bear hangs. Lots of boar. Wish i was out there too.never lost my wonderlust. Good luck.ill follow you while I cycle my way back to health

  • Smiles : Apr 13th

    Hi Dad! Glad you’re on this trip! You’re going to have the best time.

    Great 1st post & bio!

  • Bluewhale : Apr 13th

    Congratulations! I’m looking forward to your thoughts at 70+.

  • Marty Smith : Apr 13th

    Wow! We have so much in common. Great name by the way and similar ages. I will be following your blog, and I hope to learn much from your perspective. I have the Appalachian Trail on my bucket list … someday …

  • Norman Tracy : Apr 13th

    Hey Marty, I’m so looking forward to following you’re AT journey! Have a great time and be safe, YOU got this man.

  • Wendy Hagan : Apr 13th

    I just turned 60 and will be heading out this summer for a Maine section…now I feel younger 🙂

    I can’t wait to follow your journey!!

    Walkaway Wendy

  • Don Kreis : Apr 13th

    I wish you the best and I will be following your adventure closely. You see, I plan on doing the AT in 5 years when I retire for my second time. Like you I will be 70+, I plan on flip flopping and starting in Harper’s Ferry and my wild youth days are starting to catch up with me. I can only hope I can keep it all together for 5 more years. So have fun and get it done.


  • Eric : Apr 13th

    Best of luck! I’ve done only day hike sections. But they’ve been amazing. Can’t wait to see what you’ll discover about the land, and yourself!

  • Jim Fergione : Apr 13th

    Scott, I’ll be following you, wishing you the best!!! I finished a Flip-Flop in 2022, two weeks shy of my 72nd birthday… With my 68 y.o. wife 😃 (JoMama). I’m sure you already know there are only about 60 people over 70 y.o. that have ever completed it. It is definitely challenging, but doable, and ultimately rewarding. Good Luck, take your time and enjoy every minute!
    Jim (Grit) Fergione
    Class of 2022

  • Sologsl : Apr 13th

    So good to hear of your trip. Grew up in NC and hiked many short trips on at as s teens , 20s.
    No phones, hostels, $3 tube tents and vietnam c rations.
    Now 65 and had hip replaced 3 days ago.
    Your hike gives me hope to try section hiking. Thanks

  • Melanie : Apr 13th

    Let us know how we can help once you reach Shenandoah NP.

  • Bruce Conner : Apr 13th

    I have one thing to say about this, Marty. YOU GO, DUDE!!! As a 71 year old wannabe thru hiker, reading about your adventure gives me motivation to step up my aspirations to thru hike. I love a few miles from the Ice Age Trail, and the North Country Trail is a few hours away. Then there’s the Benton Mackaye Trail from N. GA to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So I’ve got choices & time, and your adventure may just motivate me to go!
    Best of luck in your own “walk in the clouds”!

  • Doublepack : Apr 13th

    I also am trying to figure out how I was just 35 yesterday! Great write up and best of luck. I began section hiking the AT 12 years ago and am halfway there with the goal of finishing the remaining half in the next two years(retirement is great!) Looking forward to following your journey

  • Teresa Fantasia : Apr 13th

    I am excited to follow your journey! I will be hiking the AT next year at age 64. Most of the blogs I read are the journey of a young person. I love reading about them, however it is inspiring to hear about older hikers pursuing their dreams. It gives me hope I can do it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Steve sutsser : Apr 13th

    This a dream of mine also. I’m 66

  • Robert Benson : Apr 13th

    Good luck, Marty! I’m hitting the big 70 this year. I’m thinking about doing an AT thru hike soon so I’ll be watching your posts closely. Tell it like it is. No sugar coating. 😁

  • Rick Morrow : Apr 13th

    Im 70+ and will be at HF 10 days earlier. Ill wave as you fly by.

  • Kevin Harry : Apr 14th

    Hi Marty. Very excited for you and looking forward to hearing about your experience. I’ve fantasized about doing a thru hike since reading Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” back in the 90s. My career has limited me to only a few section hikes thus far, but I’ve alway felt there would be time in retirement. However, after a little research I’ve discovered it is very much a “young man/woman’s game.” Apparently, of all the successful thru hikers less than 800 have been 60 or older. At 58, and looking at 65 for retirement, I can see I’ll have my work cut out for me! Having said that, I’m confident that with proper training and a little luck I’ll be able to check that item off my bucket list as I’m sure you will too!
    Best of luck and looking forward to following your progress.

    Best regards,
    Kevin Harry

  • Ruth Morley : Apr 14th

    As a 71 year old fellow blogger here on the Trek, I look forward to following along your journey. I’m still out there backpacking as much as possible, and still have way too many other trails in my sites to quit. Just remember, we each hike our own hike. Do your best to not compare yourself to other hikers or to the younger you. You are what you are right now, and that’ll get you quite far!

  • Vernon winter : Apr 14th

    Marty- i thru hiked in 85. I plan to do so again within real the next two years. I am 72 and it’s good to see another person of age walking the walk.

  • Dave manca(solo grampa) : Apr 14th

    Good luck Marty! I did a thru- hike last year(2023) at 71and a 1/2. I’ll try to follow you on your quest. I’d be more than happy to share my experience with you. There ain’t many of us old fools left that can finish! I assume you are nobo? Give me a shout if you’d like. I started 3/11/23 and finished 7/21/23

  • Stephen J Craig : Apr 16th

    Attitude GA-ME 1996 (Now I’m 74.)
    Wife is Determination. (She didn’t hike, but kept the home, and provided logistics – there weren’t as many trail angles back then.)
    That’s the advice – irregardless of equipment or anything else – it’s attitude and determination that gets you to K.
    Looking forward to following you.

  • Nick Fowler : Apr 28th

    Have an amazing time out there, Marty! Super inspiring to see what you’re doing. I hope I’m thru-hiking when I’m in my 70s! (aka I want to be like you when I grow up.)


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