Why carry a heavy backpack when you can day hike the Appalachian Trail?

2018 SmartHike!

SMARTHIKE, started in 2011, offers an efficient and affordable way to hike short or long sections of the Appalachian Trail. The three SmartHikes offered in 2018 are listed below.

Suggested donation is $1,200 per hike. Suggested donation for individual days are $50 for the southern hikes and $60 for the Maine hike.

The support van carries your food, clothing, shelter, sleeping bags/pads, water and extra pair of boots. We also provide a car for medical emergencies. People can use their own car if they want for a reduced donation.

All SmartHike hopefuls are required to attend a weekend SmartHike orientation at the Appalachian Folk School ($100 suggested donation) or a five-day Appalachian Trail Institute at the Appalachian Folk School ($300 suggested donation). All donations go to the folk school and includes on-site lodging.  The orientation provide a realistic picture to help you decide if the SmartHike is right for you.

SmartHike Orientations


  • July 13-15
  • Sept. 21-23
  • Nov. 2-4 


  • March 22-24
  • March 29-31
  • July 12-14

Appalachian Trail Institutes


  • July 9-13
  • Oct. 1-5
  • Oct. 8-12

SmartHikes are good for the recently retired, section hikers of all ages, and those 2018 thru-hikers who would have van support for more than half the trail.  As a matter of fact, a 2018 thru-hiker could arrange their own support between Harpers Ferry and Gorham between June 20 and August 20.

The daily average for the GA/TN/NC hike is 16 mpd.
The daily average for the VA hike is 17.3 mpd.
The daily average for the ME hike is 12.4 mpd.

SmartHike Session Details