Least Favorite Sections on the Appalachian Trail

We were going to call this Worst Sections on the Appalachian Trail, but that didn’t seem fair. These sections have their merits… those merits might just be harder to find than on the more crowd-pleasing sections. These sections have some overlap with our previous thru-hiker poll posts, so we’ve listed something to look forward to for each section to make it little less unbearable. Thru-hikers are a sunny, positive bunch, so there were only three sections in our survey that stood out to them as Not Very Fun.

Here they are, beginning with the worst:

1) Northern Pennsylvania

img_9088

Distance

About 146 miles long

Location and Mileage

NOBO: The rocky sections ramps up around mile 1147 and lets up around the PA/NJ border, mile 1294
SOBO: Begins around NJ/PA border at mile 896)and ends past Duncannon, mile 1042

What makes this section unappealing

Rocks, heat, rocks, rattlesnakes, rocks, sketchy water situations

More Info

Entirely unsurprising in it’s number-one disliked status, this section of the AT doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. Most hikers hit this region in the dead heat of summer, complete with water shortages, gnats, a Superfund site, rattlesnakes, and demonic, ankle-rolling rocks for 100 miles. Some sections can be challenging in a fun way though, like the Wolf Rocks (pictured above).

Something to look forward to

The towns through Pennsylvania are super welcoming and inexpensive. Palmerton, Wind Gap, and Delaware Water Gap are all easy to get to, and incredibly hospitable. And even if you don’t stay at the Doyle, you need to at least stop in and see what the fuss is about.

**Also listed as one of the hardest sections on the AT

2) New York

img_9290

No, this isn’t Northern PA. Just another rocky, crappy climb in NY with no summit view.

Distance

Just under 100 miles

Location and Mileage

NOBO: NJ/NY border (mile 1366) to NY/CT border (mile 1461)
SOBO: CT/NY border (mile 728.7) to NY/NJ border (mile 823.8)

What makes this section unappealing

Plethora of short, steep, annoying climbs that never break treeline.

More Info

This section sneaks up on thru-hikers. It’s a weird combination of challenging terrain mixed with the mind-numbing irritation of many short, steep climbs that never break treeline. It’s also a critical point for NOBOs- they’ve been on the AT for over 1,300 miles, and haven’t hit the most final few states yet. It can be buggy, hot, and depending on the year, standing water creates dank pools for some of the worst sections of mosquitos on the trail.

Something to look forward to

There is a lot of ready-made food to be found in New York. From delis at road crossings (look for Hot Dogs Plus at 17A by Greenwood Lake), to the Pringles vending machine at Bear Mountain State Park, hikers can pack out giant sandwiches to the shelter. New York pizzas are also no joke—Annabelle’s Pizza in Unionville is unforgettable.

**Also listed as one of the hardest sections on the AT

3) Southern Pennsylvania

img_9021

You could probably walk this in your sleep, to be honest

Distance

About 83 miles

Location and Mileage

NOBO: Hit the WV/PA border at mile 1,064, and leave Southern PA at mile 1,147 by Duncannon.
SOBO: Reach Southern PA after Duncannon at mile 1,042, and finish at the PA/MD border at mile 1,125.

What makes this section unappealing

Flat and boring. Can be hot.

More Info

Just because a section is easy, it doesn’t mean thru-hikers will love it. They aren’t out there for an easy jaunt, and southern PA is easy but rather monotonous.

Something to look forward to

The town of Boiling Springs (NOBO 1,121). The trail goes right through here, and it’s one of the friendliest towns on the AT. If you hit it at the right time, you could wind up eating burgers at a town-wide barbecue while listening to live music. The trail also passes Children’s Lake, an in-town body of water where kids play with remote-controlled boats and little ducklings swim by. It’s like something out of a storybook.

**Also listed as one of the easiest sections on the AT

That’s it, seriously. Our surveyed thru-hikers really liked every other section. And even though these aren’t the best the AT has to offer, they still have their perks.

Related

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 3

  • I appreciate all the information that you reveal. What was the age of the oldest woman that completed the AP.Trail? : Mar 17th

    I appreciate all of the information you reveal about the AP. Trail. What is the age of the oldest woman to complete the trail?

    Reply
  • Rob "Figgy" Figulski : Mar 20th

    I agree with New York, and also agree about Annabelles Pizza! I’m not sure how many go there but it was the best pie on the trail.

    I will however disagree with PA. The southern part was just beautiful and the best trail towns of any state!

    Reply
    • Maggie Slepian : Mar 20th

      Southern PA was one of my favorite sections on the AT! I was sort of surprised to see it rank so low in our survey :). Boiling Springs was by far my favorite trail town too!

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Maggie Slepian Cancel reply