A Few Notes on the Notes

These notes follow the ATC guidebooks' organization into regions and sections. The guidebooks divide the overall trail into fifteen regions; from north to south: Maine (ME), New Hampshire (NH), Vermont (VT), Massachusetts (MA), Connecticut (CT), New York (NY), New Jersey (NJ), Pennsylvania (PA), Maryland (MD), Northern Virginia and West Virginia (VAWV), Shenandoah National Park (VASNP), Central Virginia (VAC), Southwest Virginia (VASW), Tennessee-North Carolina (TNC), Georgia (GA). Each region is then subdivided into numbered sections. Except in Virginia, numbering starts anew at the northernmost section of each region, always §1, and increases southbound. The number of sections per region varies. In Virginia regions, numbering starts at §1 (Harpers Ferry, WV) and continues to §45 (Damascus, VA).

"Mp" abbreviates "milepost" or "mileposts". Mileposts are a section's reference points described in the ATC guidebooks. These notes write them as two numbers separated with a forward slash ("/"); e.g., 15.3/12.4. The first number is the distance heading southbound from the section's north terminus, while the second number is the distance northbound from the south terminus. For a section spanning, say, 10.5 miles, "Mp 0.0/10.5" denotes the north endpoint and "Mp 10.5/0.0" denotes the south endpoint.

The location for each parking option is given as decimal coordinates of latitude and longitude enclosed in braces; e.g., {40.98285, -75.14025}. Each such pair is followed by four circled letters linking to mapping websites: "" for Bing Maps, "" for Google Maps, "" for Mapquest, "" for OpenStreetMap. When you click one of these, the corresponding website opens with its map marked and centered on that location.

A check mark ("✓") after the location coordinates and their map links, above, means that the location coordinates have been verified by wheels on the road or boots on the ground. "Wheels on the road" means that my car's GPS navigator successfully guided me to the parking area using the coordinates. "Boots on the ground" means that I recorded the coordinates on the spot with my hand-held GPS receiver.

A coordinate-pair of latitude and longitude may also show up in the commentary for a parking option in order to locate some other feature—usually the junction of a side trail with the AT. In this case, the coordinate-pair itself links to OpenStreetMap (to avoid visual clutter in the narrative). If you should disfavor OpenStreetMap, you'll need to copy the coordinates into the mapping website of your choice.

The map datum for all location coordinates is WGS 84.

"mi" abbreviates "mile" or "miles" in accordance with context. "yd" abbreviates "yards".

Most road and trail distances are given to tenths of a mile because the ATC guides and the mapping websites report in tenths. Even so, it's best to interpret these fractions loosely, especially since starting and ending points are not specified sharply; i.e., YMMV.

Adjectives "north", "east", "south", and "west" refer to compass directions—unlike the trail-relative directions in the ATC guides.

AT directions are either "northbound" or "southbound", regardless of compass direction.

"FR" abbreviates "Forest Road". A forest road in AT country is typically under the purview of a state agency or of the US Forest Service, which provides varying levels of paving, grading, and maintenance. Often, forest roads are not paved; instead, they are a combination of dirt and gravel. Some are suitable for passenger cars with standard clearance, but others are best traveled in high-clearance vehicles (Jeep, SUV, pick-up truck). Be ready for narrow road width, potholes (with puddles), rocky patches, rutting, wash-boarding, hairpin turns, steep drops, sparse signage. Some forest roads are closed to vehicles in winter, and gates block access by car.

Some parking options serve the AT via a side trail up to four miles, more or less, depending on nearby alternatives.

The PDF file for each section is intended as your best bet for printing (US Letter, portrait).

Each section's GPX (GPS Exchange Format) file comprises waypoints representing the parking options for that section. Besides the basics of the generic GPX format, each waypoint also includes extra information expressed in the Garmin extensions for the GPX 1.1 schema. This all looks and works fine on my Garmin Nüvi, the only device available to me for tinkering, testing, and driving. (See the Garmin Nüvi page.)

You're on your own for loading a GPX file onto your car's GPS navigator. Presumably, your navigator's software will help you out. If instead it gives you grief, look into the free and open-source GPSBabel project, which supports a slew of formats and devices. It runs under GNU/Linux, Windows, Mac OS/X, and other operating systems.

The details of the GPX files' content and structure look to be stable, but adjustments are possible.

Each section's web page includes a link to an overview map showing parking and other locations described in the commentary for that section. Location are marked by these icons:

  • marks a parking location Marks the location for a parking option.
  • marks an AT location Marks a location on the AT, typically where a side trail from a parking location meets the AT.
  • marks an orientation location Marks a location mentioned in the orientation notes for a parking location, typically a reference point on a road.
  • marks a side-trail location Marks a trailhead or trail intersection of a side trail leading to the AT.

To see what milepost a marker represents, rest your mouse on the marker (i.e., hover there). To further see a synopsis of the parking option, click on the marker.

Each section's overview map has a choice of several base maps, courtesy of generous map providers freely sharing their content. To see the menu of these maps, click on the layers icon in the upper-right corner. To then switch to another map, click that map's radio button. Each base map has a maximum zoom level, which is appended to the map's name for reference (🔎). The default map is marked by a star (★).

Each section's web page has a link to the National Weather Service forecast for the area, located by the latitude and longitude of the section's north terminus or nearby. (Specifically, the link uses the coordinates of the section's northernmost parking option.)

Ornamental Unicode characters are added to convey organization and to spice the presentation a tad. Older browsers and e-readers may lack glyphs for some of these characters and will substitute a default stand-in. Here's the cast of characters with the full Unicode names: