With a length of 2,190 miles from one end to another, the Appalachian Trail is recognized as one of the best hiking trails in the USA. If you don’t have the luxury of time and energy to go on a hike, a better alternative is to hop on a bike. Appalachian trail biking lets you cover a larger area in a shorter time.
Thinking of bikepacking the Appalachian trail? Read on and we’ll let you know how to do it like a pro. Learn from the tips we’ll share to prepare and make the most out of this epic outdoor experience!
Know Before You Go
Before you start bikepacking the Appalachian trail, research about what is allowed and what is not. Sadly, you are not allowed to go cycling. A large portion of the trail excludes bicycles by regulation.
Despite this, based on the experiences shared by other people, there are still legal ways to go bikepacking. One of the things you can do is to choose a parallel route instead of following the standard route for hiking the Appalachian Trail.
There are two reasons why cycling is prohibited on the trail. The first is the belief that it can lead to quick erosion, especially when there is high bike traffic. The second is that the trail is meant for gradual movements and not for a fast pace.
The regulations, however, may change soon. Some legislations are promoting the use of bikes, but only in a small portion of the trail. After all, it is designated as a foot-only path. So, even if the regulations change, you will be able to cycle only on a small portion of the trail.
Start with the Right Bike
To kickstart your adventure at the Appalachian trail, pick the right bike. Choose one that you are most comfortable with, making sure that it is suitable for your weight and height. A bike with a lightweight frame is best since it takes lesser effort to maneuver, but make sure that you won’t compromise performance.
Pay attention to the tires of the bike, especially the tread. It needs a solid grip on the surface, especially when you are on rough trails.
Pack the Essentials
Next, prepare your bikepacking gear. It helps to have a checklist before you go to minimize the likelihood that you will forget some things.
One of the most important is your bikepacking bag. Choose a dry bag to keep your things dry in case it rains. Also, you don’t need a traditional backpack. Instead, you need a bag that you can easily secure in the rear rack of your bike. Some bags are placed on the handlebar.
A water bottle is also a must-have. Hydration is important, so you need easy access to potable water. Refill your bottle as soon as you see a water source. It is also good to consider buying backpacking water filters.
Another essential for Appalachian trail biking is a backpacking sleeping bag or a backpacking tent. For a lightweight alternative, a camping hammock is also promising. Consider the sleeping arrangement that suits your preferences so that you can plan what to bring.
Bikepacking the Appalachian trail can be tiring, so dress properly. Start by researching the weather. Once you know the temperature and environmental conditions to expect, it is easier to decide what you will wear. Go for something lightweight but comfortable. If it will be cold, insulation is important for your clothing. Windbreaker jackets or softshell jackets are good to keep you warm.
When it comes to shoes, cleated cycling shoes are the best. Avoid wearing hiking shoes. They can be bulky and heavy, which might make it difficult for you to pedal.
Plan Your Meal
Getting ready for Appalachian trail biking also entails the need to think about what you will eat. For most people, they bring pre-packed meals. This is easy since you don’t have to bring a backpacking stove, cookware, and anything else you will need for cooking.
Even without an alcoholic stove, you can cook while you are bikepacking. You just need to learn how to start a fire in the woods to avoid a frustrating experience. Plan meals that are easy to cook but filling. Make it appropriate for the weather as well. For instance, when it is chilly, hot soup is sure to be good.
Mind Your Safety
Safety is a crucial consideration when you are bikepacking the Appalachian trail. Especially if you are new in the area or if it is your first time bikepacking, it is best to go as a group. This minimizes the chances of getting lost.
Pay attention to your navigation tools. Your GPS device may not work when there is no reception. See to it that you have a compass. It is also good to learn how to measure distance on a map for smart navigation while on the trail.
Before you leave, inspect your bike quickly, making sure that it is in its tip-top condition to avoid any problem once you are already bikepacking.
Don’t forget to pack a survival kit or a first aid kit. You’ll never know what will happen on the trail, but it is best to be prepared for any unfortunate situation that can confront you.
Think About Your Environmental Impact
Be a responsible visitor at the Appalachian Trail. Consider your environmental impact and do something good for the planet. You should not leave your garbage in the forest, especially if it is non-biodegradable. Be mindful of the rules, especially when it comes to fire safety. Respect the trail and don’t do anything that will hurt the environment.
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If you are interested in bikepacking the Appalachian trail, take note that current legislations designate the more than 2,000 miles a foot-only zone. There are adjacent or parallel parts of the routes, however, where you can go cycling. Make the most out of your trip by packing the essentials, dressing properly, knowing what to eat, and emphasizing your safety, among other things.
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