Three More Reasons to Flip Flop on the AT

Getting my trail legs on.

The good reasons for doing a flip flop hike just keep piling up.

For a variety of them, I’m starting north on April 26* at Grayson Highlands State Park.

I’ve already shared Reason #1 and Reason #2–go check them out, too, if you’re starting to feel a little warm & fuzzy about flip flopping (but need an extra down puffy or cup of hot cocoa).

Here are three more reasons to consider starting in the middle…

Reason #3.  Starting later means better weather.

It gets cold in March.  Hikers endure snow storms in the Smokies and freezing rain in Franklin.  Avoiding hypothermia means being prepared with extra clothes, boots, a winter sleeping bag.  Extra food.  

These things are heavy.

Starting in mid to late April means I can start with a lighter pack precisely when I need it the most…when I’m just getting my trail legs.

I can leave all my winter gear for later, when I’ll be stronger and more trail hardy and ready to tackle what Mount Washington has to offer (outside of the snack bar and the cog railway).

Reason #4.  Starting later means starting on slightly easier terrain. 

Speaking of trail legs, Georgia and North Carolina are intense. 

I live in the North Carolina mountains, and when my husband and I did this shakedown hike on the Art Loeb trail, we thought we’d died and gone to New Hampshire…without the sweeping views.

The southern Appalachians have mountain cred, y’all. 

The terrain is rocky, the climbs are steep and the mountains are high enough to humble any hiker, especially a nascent thru-hiker who doesn’t yet have their legs.

Not that Virginia is easy, but the altitude maps look less like tidal waves and more like whitecaps when you get to Virginia.

I think starting in Virginia is a way to ease into a long thru-hike without getting pummeled from the start.

Reason #5.  More time to ogle fungi.  

As already noted, I’m a tree-hugger and a flower sniffer and a fungus marveler.

Starting a little later and a lot farther along means there’s more time to get to Katahdin before they close access on October 15.

More time to get to Katahdin means more time to enjoy the Trail and all that it offers–views, waterfalls, swimming holes, wildlife and glorious, ridiculous fungi!

And there are some that will stop you in your tracks!


Almost as good as a moose sighting.  Almost.

And you, fellow thru-hiker?

Leave a comment and let us know where you’re starting and when.  And if you’re a NOBO, say hi as you’re flying by on your well-oiled trail legs.


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Comments 8

  • George Turner : Jan 6th

    I planned to do a flip flop this year, but a torn rotator cuff on a trip home (I kid you not), but an end to that. I did walk from Marion, Va to Harpers Ferry and then after my surgery walk from Marion to Springer. Walking through the that stretch in the fall as the leaves are changing is another reason to flip flop. Glorious!

    • Ruby Throat : Jan 8th

      Yes! The fall leaves…that’s a little farther down on my list of nine reasons to flip flop, but is maybe number one in my heart. Hope your shoulder heals and you get back out there soon, George! Thanks for reading and hike happy!

      • George : Jan 10th

        I’m starting North from Harpers Ferry in the middle of April. Shoulder is great. Most folks my age have all sorts of crap in their shoulders. At least I got one of mine cleaned out!

  • Gail Barrett : Jan 6th

    I love fungi, too! It is so cool. I’m always stopping to take pictures of it.
    My husband and I are doing the traditional flip flop this year: Harper’s Ferry north to Maine, then HF south to Georgia. Our main reason is to avoid the crowds. We want to meet people, but it sounds like Springer can be a madhouse unless you start really early, but we want to avoid the snow.

    • Dennis : Jan 9th

      Hi Gail

      My brother and I are doing that same flip flop starting on or about April 5th…..Good luck with your hike!

  • Ruby Throat : Jan 8th

    Thanks for reading, Gail. When are y’all starting? May our paths cross on the trail and may we have a good crop of fungi this year! Hike happy, and thanks for reading! xo

  • Dean : Jan 9th

    FYI, I went through Grayson Highlands May 5th this year on my thru hike and got snowed on pretty good.

    • Ruby Throat : Jan 9th

      Oh, wow. Well, dang…I guess my pack will be heavier than I planned. Thanks for the head’s up, Dean! BTW…did you see ponies? Thanks for reading and keeping me straight. Hike Happy!


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