The Appalachian Trail and Places to Take Mountain Photographs
Unexpected Landscape Photos on the Appalachian Trail
At almost 2,200 miles long going through 14 states from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is not one that I will ever hike. Further looking at the stats for the trail, it has an elevation gain of over 460,000 feet with all the ups and downs. That’s like climbing Mount Everest 16 times!
It begins at Springer Mountain in Georgia and ends at Mount Katahdin in Maine. As a crow flies, it’s about 1,100 miles, but the actual trail is twice that long with all its twists and turns.
Although I will never hike the trail and photos of the trail itself are not that special, I got to thinking about the many places the trail crosses where there are some great overlooks and views. I realized I already have some of those and I’m cooking up a project to obtain more.
In the meantime, I will share some of those locations that I already have. The Mile Marker number shown is the distance from where the trail begins in the south and heading north.
Hogpen Gap, Mile Marker 37
The Appalachian Mountains in northern Georgia are more impressive than one might think they would be. The trail crosses Highway 348, a short 11 miles from Helen, GA, at an elevation of 3,504 feet. The Fall colors can be pretty good at that point as seen in the photo below from the nearby viewpoint.
I took a short walk down the trail looking for a good composition back to the opening at the highway to capture the fog that was present on that morning. There is something about the trail that is so inviting, but I know well that if you walk down it, you’re going to have to walk back up.
Clingman’s Dome, Mile Marker 196
The trail climbs up to Clingman’s Dome at an elevation of 6,643 feet, which is famous as being the highest lookout point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is in the middle of the Park where highway US 441 crosses the North Carolina – Tennessee borders. It is an incredible area to shoot both sunrise and sunset photographs, with a long U-shaped double sidewalk facing the open mountain views.
Carver’s Gap, NC, Mile Marker 375
The trail crosses Highway 143 just 12 miles south of the town of Roan Mountain at an elevation of 5,522 feet. The area is famous for Rhododendrons in bloom, usually in early June. A short 1.2 miles east of Carver’s Gap the trail goes up to Jane Bald, a well-known viewpoint for photographing the mountains at sunset with the rhododendrons blooming in the foreground. I was fortunate to capture the beautiful photograph below from this location.
The trail follows nearby the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. One of the well-known spots along the Skyline Drive is Big Meadows at an elevation of 3,491 feet. The Big Meadows area is known for, of course, a very big meadow, something unusual as the Skyline Drive follows the ridge of the mountains. Whitetail deer are common at Big Meadows and they will have their fawns out for all to see, usually in June.
In New Hampshire, the trail works its way close to Mount Washington, famous for being one of the windiest places on earth. I have been there a couple of times and it is quite an experience. Before it gets there it passes close by to Crawford Notch State Park, one of the prettiest places in New Hampshire in the Fall.
The Appalachian Trail ends on the north end at Mount Katahdin, in Baxter State Park, about 20 miles north of Millinocket, Maine. In the shadows of Mount Katahdin is Sandy Stream Pond, which is known as a place Maine Moose gather in the Fall to feed in the lake. From the lake, you can see the top of Mount Katahdin, where the trail ends.
Only Scratching the Surface
I have only touched on a few places along the Appalachian Trail that I have been to. There are so many more, that I will be making a separate expedition to photograph the Trail and the nearby overlooks. I hope to create a separate gallery for this project, but will, at the very least, add to this article.