GetBackpacking! Winter Series: AT from Max Patch to Hot Springs


Get a taste of winter backpacking on one of the most iconic stretches of an iconic trail: the Appalachian Trail between Max Patch and Hot Springs. This 21-mile trek offers a good challenge for kicking off your 2022 backpacking year.

February 25-27, 2022

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Have you ever wondered why you hang up your pack in November and don’t load it up again until mid-March? One factor likely tops your list: The Cold. Undoubtedly, the winter can get cold in the mountains, especially at night. And there’s always the possibility of snow. But those 40-degree days under sunny skies, which dominate the winter months, are some of the best days to be on the trail. In fact, your biggest problem on the trail isn’t staying warm, it’s overheating.

In an hour-long prep class the week before the hike, we’ll go over how to dress for the trail and, more importantly, how to cope with the cold once you’re in camp. We’ll go over staying warm at night, both in camp and in your sleeping bag; about nutrition; and about some of the more intangible aspects of winter camping, such as coping with 12 hours of darkness and what to do when the sun sets at 5 (to quote Tonto, Tarzan and Frankenstein, “fire good”). Our prep meeting includes handouts, which you will receive upon signing up.

The bulk of this class consists of a weekend trip to the Southern Appalachians, where we’ll test your newfound skills on a 20-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, from Max Patch to the town of Hot Springs. We will leave early Friday and return Sunday afternoon. Here’s the itinerary:


1 p.m. — Meet at Bluff Mountain Outfitters in Hot Springs for shuttle.

2 p.m. — On the trail at Max Patch, hiking 2.7 miles to the Roaring Fork Shelter, arriving between 3:30 – 4 p.m.


We will hike about 11 miles, camping for the night just above Garenflo Gap (it’s lower, about 2,500 feet, and will be warmer).


Hike out to Hot Springs, about 7 miles

Fee for this trip is $165, and includes:
* Shuttle from Hot Springs to Max Patch.
* Winter Camping Seminar with handouts (handouts are supplied upon signing up).
* Detailed eguide for the trip, including custom maps and route descriptions of each day’s hiking.

The Winter Camping seminar for this trip will be via Zoom on Monday, February 21 at 6:30 p.m. An invitation will be mailed up registration..


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