Then ‘get thee to the’


located in the beautiful mountains of northeastern Tennessee at the Appalachian Folk School

(ten miles from the Appalachian Trail in Damascus, VA)

Blue Ridge Mountains

Dr. Warren Doyle

“The ATI is an affordable and effective five-day program to increase
your chances of fulfilling this dream by offering a realistic preparation for the challenging journey ahead.”

About the Appalachian Trail Institute

Is there a long distance hike on the Appalachian Trail in your future? Do you want to increase your chances of completing the entire journey? Do you want to save money by not buying equipment and clothing you don’t need? Then the Appalachian Trail Institute (ATI) would be an informative and valuable program for you.

Unfortunately, at least 75-80% of the people who start their Appalachian Trail thru-hike fail to accomplish their goal. Why? Most of the time it wasn’t because they ran out of money, got seriously ill or injured, or got mauled by bears or bitten by snakes. Instead, it is because they were not realistically prepared for several challenges that are inherent in any long distance journey. Year after year, many hikers who stop prematurely have not adequately prepared themselves mentally and emotionally for the psychological demands of the trail. It is a fact that most hikers have ended their treks because their actual trail experience turned out harder and less enjoyable than they expected. This has caused personal disappointment and frustration (not to mention a loss of time and money) that results from disrupted plans, unfulfilled tasks, and/or deferred dreams.

Fortunately, there is a program to increase your chances of experiencing the joy and sense of accomplishment at journey’s end. The main purpose of the ATI is to increase your chances of completing your hike by providing you with the most realistic, comprehensive, and updated information/guidance available anywhere.

Organized and directed by Dr. Warren Doyle, who has walked the entire AT a record sixteen times, the ATI is an intensive, five-day program that covers trail history and management, trip logistics, food, equipment, physical conditioning, hiker safety/health; and the most neglected but most important topic of all, the psychological/emotional aspects of long distance hiking. For over twenty-five years (since 1989), severalhundred hikers (from twenty-nine states and four foreign countries) have attended and enjoyed the ATI.

The completion rate of ATI graduates is 75% compared to a 20-25% completion rate of non-ATI participants.


The Appalachian Trail Institute is held at the Appalachian Folk School outside Laurel Bloomery, TN just ten miles from the Appalachian Trail in Damascus, VA. 

Rock face

Participants will do short day hikes on the AT between Mt. Rogers and Damascus, VA. Non-hiking spouses and significant others will enjoy relaxing in a quiet setting or exploring the many shops in the surrounding communities.

What previous ATI participants had to say
about the program and Warren:

“The ATI should be a requirement for anyone planning
to hike the AT. It was definitely a key factor behind
completing my journey.”

“It was time well-spent. Fun, informative, entertaining
and inspiring. I thought I knew it all before but I really
didn’t. The tuition was reasonable and more than paid for
itself because I would have purchased a lot of useless,
expensive equipment.”

“Having Warren share his experience and wisdom was akin
to having Thoreau lead me on a nature walk around Walden
Pond; Muir hiking with me through Yosemite; or, Fletcher
helping me plan a traverse of the Grand Canyon. I can see
why he is a living legend/folk-hero of the AT.”
“My time and money were not wasted. Never boring,
always stimulating. The camaraderie among the other
participants was definitely a plus. Despite his
occasional outrageousness, Warren is sincerely
passionate about his desire to help people such
as me to fulfill their dream of walking the AT.”

“There are only two people I wanted to meet in my life:
Jimi Hendrix and Warren Doyle; and Jimi is dead.”

“Not only did I receive an amazing amount of good, relevant information, I met my hiking partner at the ATI. Both of us were definitely at an advantage when we started at Springer.  Thank you!”

“........the most complete man I ever met.”

“........yours are the truest footprints I’ve ever followed.”

“......he’s looser than a bucket of juice.”

“......the Abbie Hoffman of the AT!”

"He is the Yoda of the AT!"

"I am convinced he loves the trail more than anyone else does and he continues to teach and inspire me."

“I am so glad I took the initiative and made the time
to attend the ATI. I carried its spirit 2,100 miles with
me to the summit of Katahdin! I am a dreamer no longer.
I did it! Thank you for this wonderful service to other hikers.”



March 27-31 (S-R)
May 9-13 (Trail Days May 13-14)
May 15-20
June 6-10
Sept. 25-29 (S-R)
Oct. 10-15
Oct. 31-Nov. 4


Donation for the five-day/four-night program is $300 per person (less for non-hiking significant others).  Your donation includes: on-site indoor lodging; four continental breakfasts; about 28 hours of classroom instruction; about 8 hours of hiking; and, instructional materials.  Donation is as follows: a $50 fully-refundable registration deposit and the remainder of the donation ($250) to be paid on the last day of the program (satisfaction guaranteed).


Appalachian Folk School (Donnelly House)
3142 Divide Rd. (old highway 91 North)
Mountain City, TN 37683


ATI attendees stay in the 'poorman's Biltmore.'  Rooms are semi-private, same gender, with twin and/or bunk beds.  Folks can also tent in our yard.  Local motels/campgrounds are also available (at your own expense).


Continental breakfast is included in the donation.  Three lunches and four dinners (not included in the donation) will be at local dinning establishments.  Trail snacks are the responsibility of the attendee.  (There will be at least three day hikes on the AT ranging from 6-8 miles.)


  • Sleeping bag/bedding/towels (unless you are flying in)
  • Suitable clothing for the season.
  • Raingear.
  • Daypack or backpack.
  • Water container.
  • Hiking shoes/boots.
  • Pen and paper for notes.
  • Your dream and your willingness to listen and learn how to make it a reality.


  • Programs usually start at 1pm on Monday and end between noon-2pm on Friday.
  • Weekend hiking/lodging before and after the ATI can be arranged.
  • With advance notice, we can provide ground transportation to and from Tri-Cities Regional Airport, TN ($20 one way)
  • Please try to register at least one month before your desired program dates.
  • No pets, alcohol, drugs, smoking and closed minds.
  • Non-hiking significant others are welcome to attend and go shopping and/or relax.


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Send an email to Warren Doyle at

Last modified November 16, 2014