10 Best Landmarks on the Appalachian Trail

Contributed by Mark Joy

If you’re looking for an epic adventure, look no further than the Appalachian Trail (AT).

Appalachian Trail survey marker.

This legendary hiking trail winds its way through the Appalachian Mountains, providing trekkers with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Backpacking the AT is also very popular amongst many outdoor enthusiasts around the world.

There are countless landmarks to see along the way, but we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the greats.

Those looking for a great outdoor activity should read on for information about each of these landmarks, where to find it on the map, then hit the trail!

McAfee Knob, Virginia 37.3929° N, 80.0367° W

McAfee Knob overlook.

McAfee Knob, located in the Jefferson National Forest of Virginia, has gained a reputation for its stunning vista.  A trek of roughly 4.5 miles can take you to 1,740 feet, which will be well worth the effort as you sit out on the ledge of McAfee Knob afloat the Shenandoah Valley.

A moderately difficult hike for the day out and back to McAfee Knob is about 8 miles.  Start at 37.38038 N, 80.08924 W and head East on the Appalachian Trail.  Dare to stand on the point and claim your reward for the view.

Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire: 44.0245° N, 71.8309° W

Mount Moosilauke covered in snow.

The bare summit of Mount Moosilauke, located at an elevation of 4,802 feet, sits in Western New Hampshire.  Here, hikers are rewarded with a glorious 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains of New England near Glencliff.

For day hikers, you can make a 7-mile plus out and back trip to experience Mount Moosilauke’s summit.  Start from the trailhead off of Ravine Road at 43.99281 N, 71.81563 W.

This is a very popular area for hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The best times to visit this trail are April through October.

Killington Peak, Vermont: 43.6045° N, 72.8201° W

The view from Killington Peak.

The iconic Mount Killington is a well-known peak on the Appalachian Trail.  It also is home to a bunkhouse for thru-hikers, as well as a ski resort. Despite all of the activity on this mountain, it is best recognized for its breathtaking panorama of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains.

Day hikers can do a 9.3 mile out and back trip starting near Cuttingsville.  The trailhead is located off of Township Road 13 at 43.5592 N, 72.8515 W.  Expect a challenge on this route as there is an elevation gain of about 2,600 feet.

Baldpate, Maine: 44.6117° N, 70.8951° W

The view from the top of Baldpate Mountain on the Appalachian Trail in Maine.

Baldpate Mountain has two outstanding summits. The West peak and East peak are connected by a network of boardwalk-like structures, as well as a wooden ladder to climb a steep section. 

You can walk along the ridgeline and climb the ladder to enjoy the breathtaking views of Baldpate. Hikers may also look out over Maine’s lush forests and rolling mountains from these landmarks.

An 8 mile out and back trip will hit both peaks going Northeast via the Appalachian Trail, starting from the trailhead on Bear River Road at 44.58966 N, 70.94731 W.

The Pinnacle, Pennsylvania: 40.6135° N, 75.9116° W

View from The Pinnacle in Pennsylvania with a bird flying overhead.

The Pinnacle summit is a rocky outlook, found along the Blue Mountain Ridgeline in Pennsylvania, where it allows its visitors to take in the beautiful landscape of rolling farmlands of the state of Pennsylvania.

This landmark is located near Kempton, with a trailhead off of Pine Swamp road at 40.62629 N, 75.95207 W.  This spot is heavily used by hikers, and is also a hunting area – be sure to wear bright colors during hunting season.

This can be a 9.90 mile out and back hike starting from the trailhead mentioned above.

Clingman’s Dome, Tennessee: 35.5628° N, 83.4985° W

Walkway and viewing platform of Clingman's Dome in the Great Smokey Mountains.

Clingman’s Dome, located in the Great Smoky Mountains at 6,643 feet above sea level, provides a 360-degree view of the treetops above.

The Appalachian Trail passes through here, making Clingman’s Dome the highest viewpoint from Georgia to Maine on the trail.

Hikers may look down on a vast ocean of mountains across 7 states – Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North & South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia – from a uniquely made observation tower.

Cove Mountain, Virginia: 37.3621° N, 80.1731° W

Sun beginning to set from Cove Mountain in Virginia.

Cove Mountain, another breathtaking viewpoint along the Virginia portion of the Appalachian Trail, stands out along the Dragon’s Tooth pathway.  Join other hikers on the climb to this popular destination as you cross creeks and make an elevation gain of 1,505 ft.

Those who are day hiking can make a 4.5-mile trek Southwest from the trailhead near Catawaba Valley Drive.  The coordinates for the trailhead location are 37.37847 N, 80.15609 W.

Max Patch, North Carolina: 35.7970° N, 82.9568° W

Sunrise over Max Patch in North Carolina.

Max Patch is a moderate walk along the Appalachian Trail with an open grassy field at the top.  This area of interest is on the North Carolina – Tennessee border. If you’re going there in the winter, make sure to wear gloves and boots and be ready to soak up the deep blues of the Great Smokies to the West, and the Black Mountains to the southeast.

You can make an easy 1.5-mile loop in this area in just under an hour.  This trail is also quite popular, so you can expect to see other people along the way.  Start at the trailhead at 35.79647 N, 82.96262 W.

Mount Rogers, Virginia: 36.6598° N, 81.5446° W

The view from Mount Rogers in Grayson Highlands State Park.

As a herd of wild horses wanders along the route, you may see breathtaking views of the mountains from Mount Rogers.  Wild ponies are frequently seen as visitors ascend to Virginia’s highest peak from the Grayson Highlands to approach Mount Rogers.

Reaching the 5,722 ft peak can be done on a long day hike.  Go 10.5 miles out and back to the Northwest from the trailhead starting at 36.63321 N, 81.50873 W.

Tinker Cliffs, Virginia: 37.4575° N, 80.0173° W

The view from Tinker Cliffs on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.

Tinker Cliffs is a beautiful overlook with 3,000 feet of elevation over the Catawba Valley.  Stop for lunch and take in the breathtaking view from Tinker Cliffs.  Despite being a little difficult, reaching Tinker Cliffs will provide you with a bird’s eye perspective of neighboring mountains including McAfee Knob to the South.

Hike with a partner and take two cars to go on a one-way journey along the Tinker Cliffs via the Appalachian Trail near Catawba.  Park one car at 37.8035 N, 80.09024 W off Catawba Valley Drive, and the other at 37.45753 N, 80.01731 W on Catawba Road.

Map Locations

Here’s a map of where to generally find these landmarks located along the Appalachian Trail:

Map of the eastern United States with locations from this post noted.

Wrap-Up

The Appalachian Trail is a long and varied trail with many beautiful landmarks. These are only a few of the amazing stops on the Appalachian Trail – there are tons more to explore!  Be sure to take some time to enjoy the scenery on your next hike.  I hope you enjoyed this post.

Happy hiking!

About the Author

Photo of the Guest Author, Mark Joy.

Meet Mark Joy

Mark Joy is the founder of markjoyblogs.com, where he empowers people to find their outdoor passions. He strongly believes that getting outdoors – no matter what the activity – is good for the mind, body, and soul.

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