If These People Can Hike the Appalachian Trail, So Can You

One of the most popular questions we get from potential thru-hikers is this:

I have a limitation. Do you think I can complete a thru-hike?

Our answer is almost always, "yes, absolutely!" Over the years we've been lucky enough to talk with and read about people overcoming all sorts of limitations to complete the Appalachian Trail.

Here are 10 inspiring groups of people who have walked all the way from Georgia to Maine:

1) Blind hikers

Bill Irwin ~~ Photograph courtesy of billirwin.org

Bill Irwin went blind at the age of 36. When he was 50-years-old, he became the first blind thru-hiker, walking with his guide dog, Orient, and without a map, GPS or compass.

More blind hikers followed Bill, including Roger Poulin was is deaf-blind. Roger completed the trail in 2014 with Roni Lepore, his Support Service Provider and friend. Click here to read Roger and Roni's blog.

2) Elderly hikers

According to the ATC, hundreds have thru-hikers have been in their 60s. About 25 thru-hikers have been over 70.

Lee Barry was 81 in 2004 when completing his second thru-hike.

Mike Caetano was 86 when he finished the trail in 2009, and he returned to the trail again several years later, aged 89!

3) Amputee hikers

Scott Rogers has a prosthetic leg and foot that are controlled by microprocessors which track his movement and create a stable walking pattern.

He completed a thru-hike in 2004 and runs a site called http://www.onelegwonder.com. Here's a video of Scott with a fellow amputee:

4) Hikers with kids

One couple have hiked the trail with with 7 and 9-year olds kids. In 2004, one hiker is bringing her 4-year old twins.

5) Diabetic hikers

A good number of hikers have completed the trail with diabetes. There's some great advice here if you're considering it.

Brett Hessenius, a diabetic hiker, blogged about his journey and posted dozens of YouTube videos.

6) Solo hikers

It's far from uncommon to hike alone. If you take sensible precautions, you don't need to have a hiking buddy for the trail.

7) Out-of-shape hikers

Thru-hikers have started the trail weighing well over 300 pounds. Many of those who start hiking while overweight will take things slowly, building up their endurance over the first days and weeks. For large hikers, there's some very helpful advice here on hiking and on finding the right gear.

8) Young hikers

Neva Warren (trail name, "Chipmunk") is the youngest ever thru-hiker. She started the trail at 14 years old and finished it when she was 15. Here's an interview with Neva:

9) Non-American hikers

If you can get a visa for long enough, you can like the trail. The ATC reports successful thru-hikers from, "Australia, Austria, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Chile, The Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, North Ireland, Norway, the Philippines, Romania, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Wales."

10) Poor hikers

You don't have to be rich to hike the trail. Thru-hikers on Reddit reported completing the trail for between $1000 and $5000.


None of this is to downplay how hard the trail is. Only about 25% of the people who start a thru-hike manage to complete it. But, if these people can do it, you can too with the right preparation and determination.

Tags: Appalachian Trail and Hiking

About the Author Steve Burge:
Steve Burge was the original founder of AppalachianTrail.com. He was a teacher for many years before starting a web development firm.
AT Deafblind Dream on Aug 22, 2014
Thank you, Steve, for mentioning us. It is almost always possible to hike on the AT regardless how long it takes one to complete hiking - a few months to years.


Under Hiking with Kids section -

There is a wonderful website about 5-year old boy who completed hiking the AT with both of his parents last year. They are now hiking on the PCT this year - <a href='http://www.buddybackpacker.com/' target=_blank rel=nofollow>www.buddybackpacker.com</a>

We met father and 8-year-old son hikers (completed their AT in year of 2010. <a href='https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Barbarian-Utopia/361206760179' target=_blank rel=nofollow>www.facebook.com</a>
There is a book about their journey:
<a href='http://www.amazon.com/Childs-Walk-Wilderness-8-Year-Old-Appalachian/dp/0811711781' target=_blank rel=nofollow>www.amazon.com</a>

steve on Aug 22, 2014
What great links, thanks

You didn't link to your own site, but I'll do it for you: <a href='http://atdeafblinddream.wordpress.com/' target=_blank rel=nofollow>atdeafblinddream.wordpress.com</a> It's a great read and I'll add to the main post too.