How Much Does It Cost to Hike The Appalachian Trail


Look at any hikers’ bucket list and you’re sure to find the Appalachian Trail on it. But unlike a weekend hike on your local state park, hiking the Appalachian Trail cost money, and a significant amount of it, too. If you are wondering how much does it cost to hike the Appalachian Trail, then we’ve got some rough estimates for you. Keep in mind that these are just estimated as prices for the said items and your situation will have a huge impact on the overall cost. So that being said, let’s start with the more obvious expenses.

Gear and Equipment

Your hiking and backpacking gear will certainly be a big part of your total budget when traversing the famed Appalachian Trail. If you’ve been hiking in the past, then you probably already have some of the things you’ll need for this particular adventure, which of course means that you don’t have to spend as much as someone who has to start buying every piece of gear and equipment needed. If you identify with the latter group, then be sure to budget for the following:

Backpacking backpacks can cost anywhere between $100 to $500 depending on the size and brand. In any case, be sure to choose a backpack that is not only comfortable but also big enough to carry all your things until you reach the next resupply point. For backpacking tents, consider spending more or less $500. Prices for backpacking sleeping bags and sleeping pads will also vary, ranging from $100 to $500 as well.

Of course, you also need to factor in your apparel. But perhaps the one piece of clothing you need to need to pay attention to is your footwear. With over 2,000 miles of hiking and millions of steps to take, expect to change your hiking shoes very often. This goes for your socks as well.


One of the things that will eat up your budget while you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail is food. This can be difficult to track since everybody has a different appetite, but generally, it is recommended to put aside at least $2 for every mile of hiking, which should amount to at least $4000 if you plan to complete the whole trek. If that appears to be too expensive, then you can go down to $1 per mile, but that would be a very conservative estimate, especially since you need to bring along a backpacking stove and fuel.

You may or may not find the need to spend all of your food budgets, and if you’re savvy with your budgeting you may end up with extra cash once the trip is over. This will, of course, depend on the quantity and type of food you consume. In any case, be sure to bring along the right types of food, ones that are rich in calories to help fuel you for the long trek ahead. Also, factor in the costs for your mail drops. Prices will depend on where you are shipping from and where you’re planning to pick it up.


Six months on the trail will mean that you won’t be able to carry all the things you need right from the start. At some point, you’re going to have to stop into town and resupply your backpacking backpack with new stocks of food, batteries for your pocket flashlight, fuel for your backpacking stove, and others.

In-town Expenses

The Appalachian Trail is not all wilderness, and many hikers (including veterans in the field) will be hard-pressed to complete it if it were. You will be passing through various towns along the way, complete with all the amenities you’ll ever need to give you a much-needed respite from days in the outdoors, from hotels with warm, dry, and soft beds to restaurants offering hot meals (which will definitely taste like heaven after days of eating jerky, trail mix, and dehydrated meals). However, be sure to keep an eye on your budget because it’s pretty easy to overindulge in beds, food, and even alcohol especially after days of being deprived of these creature comforts. That said, be sure to include a budget for your in-town trips.

As much as possible, opt for small hostels and inns instead of lavish hotels. Besides, these small businesses have all the basic luxuries any hiker will want for a restful night in towns like hot baths and soft beds. You can even do your laundry there or just look for a laundromat in town. Staying in such accommodations will help you save tons of dollars which you can use for other in-town expenses.

Now for the less obvious expenses, the ones that people usually forget about when researching how much does it cost to hike the Appalachian Trail.

“Away from Home” Expenses


If you’re like most hikers, you will still need to pay for other expenses that you leave behind when you hit the trail. These include house mortgages or rent, utilities like electricity and water, car loans, and others. These may not have any direct impact on your total Appalachian Trail cost, but you’ll still need to put aside money for these. Budgeting for these is pretty simple. Simply look at your past receipts, take the average, or put in a little extra cushion and arrange for someone to make the payments on your behalf. You could also come into an IVA to repay the loans you have taken over the years in small amounts and use the rest of your money for various activities.

Now, some hikers who are savvy with their money often find ways to make an income while hiking, one of which is by renting out their spaces while they’re away. Aside from the extra income, this also comes with the benefit of having someone take care of your space while you’re out enjoying the outdoors. Just be careful with whom you rent your space. It would be best if you know the person well and you are confident that they can be trusted.

Unexpected Expenses

When trying to figure out how much does it cost to hike the Appalachian Trail be sure to factor in unexpected expenses you may incur along the way. This is because no matter how much planning you put into your hiking adventure, some things just can’t prepare for. For instance, you may end up being cooped up in town because of an unexpected storm. This means additional expenses for you, and the longer you stay the more money you’ll be spending not just on the accommodation but also on food and other necessities. This is why you’ll want to factor in a contingency fund for unexpected expenses. Opinions vary as to how much money you should put aside as a contingency fund, varying anywhere from ten percent to thirty percent of your overall expenses. It is recommended though that you go for the higher end of the spectrum just to be on the safe side of things.

Medical Insurance

This is one of the most important things you’ll have to factor into your budget. There are plenty of hikers who take on the Appalachian Trail without medical insurance, and thankfully there are very few who needed it.

Remember, the wilderness is a rough and rugged place and filled with a variety of potential hazards. These include wild animals, snakes, slippery trails, and more. Any of these can cause unwanted injuries while you’re on the trail, and medical expenses can be rather expenses unless you have medical insurance. So please be sure to get one before you hit the trail even if you don’t think you need it. As the adage goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Post-hike Expenses

So you’ve done your budget for your Appalachian Trail expedition, but what about after that?

Some hikers quit their jobs just so they can focus on ticking off their dream adventure in their bucket list. If you did the same, then you had better include a post-hike budget on your total Appalachian Trail cost. Save up for at least a few weeks (or even months) so you have something to use while hunting for a new job. Even if you already have a job waiting for you when you finish the trail, it’s still best to have a contingency fund available as this will make the transition much easier.

Total Expenses

So all in all how much does it cost to hike the Appalachian Trail? Suffice to say that you need to set aside a significant amount of money for this trip. Take note that the expenses and budget mentioned above are only a rough estimate of how much you can expect to spend when you take on the Appalachian Trail. These will vary according to a variety of factors, but safe to say that you should prepare at least $1000 for every month you plan to spend on the trail. You can up this to $1500 if you think you’ll be spending more. By the way, that amount is just for your on-trail expenses. Some say that hiking the Appalachian Trail costs them more, while for others it’s less. Other expenses like off-trail expenses, insurance, and others are not included in that budget, so be sure to put aside money for these as well.

Globo Surf Overview

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most beautiful and challenging terrains that thru-hikers will ever encounter. Completing the whole 2,000 miles of trail is no joke, especially when you consider the financial implications that come with this adventure. Hiking the Appalachian Trail cost money, this is why budgeting is very important because you wouldn’t want to run out of money while you’re on the trail. If you’re still wondering how much does it cost to hike the Appalachian Trail, look above for a rough estimate and make your budget accordingly.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!