Saturday, March 27, 2010

GPS maps for Appalachian Trail

Hi there Mr. Road Trip USA --

I'm a big fan of your books (I have USA and New England ones) and am planning on embarking on my first big road trip this summer. I'll be driving from CT to Tennessee as I do every summer, but would like to take a scenic route this year instead of the standard, get there as fast as I can highways. I've been looking over the Appalachian Trail one tonight and trying to map it out in Google or Mapquest but I'm having a REALLY hard time! The maps online have so much more detail than the ones in the book and on your web site, so I can't really tell if I'm picking the same routes. I was just wondering if perhaps you had downloadable maps anywhere that show some more detail. I'd like to accurately plan out the route, so I know where I'm stopping, can maybe program it in my GPS, etc.

Thanks so much for your help if possible!! :)



Hi there Tara --

Thank you for writing in to Road Trip USA, and I'm very pleased you've enjoyed my other books -- I definitely like writing them!

Regarding the Appalachian Trail driving tour, I wish I had exactly what you want -- but I haven't yet pulled one together. It was a very complicated process for me to choose the driving route equivalent to the hiking trail -- but as the world gets more and more digital, I am sure I will pull together some GPS-friendly compilation before too long. Probably not, alas, before your trip in June...

(I have just started doing a Google Map app for RT66, and even though that is a signed historic route, it's still very time-consuming !)

But I can try to help you a little -- and by the way I have just published a new "mini-book" guidebook to the Appalachian Trail route, fully updated as end of last year. Hope you can check it out.

From CT, my first route advice would be to follow old US-6 (or maybe I-84 if you want to get out of town more quickly!).

You can join the Appalachian Trail (from now I'll use "AT" as an abbreviation, OK?) at Port Jervis, a funky town at the top end of the Delaware Water Gap, following US-209 along the Delaware River, then continue south along US-222 thru the fascinating Pennsylvania Dutch Country, then joining historic US-30, the old Lincoln Highway, on toward Gettysburg PA.

Into Maryland, take US-15 south, past Camp David, then follow the AT hiking trail very closely on Hwy-17, thru the Civil War battlefield at Antietam (beautiful part of teh country, this is!) This stretch is the most convoluted part of the drive -- but that's what you get trying to follow a hiking trail in a car!

The next big stop is Harpers Ferry WV, from where I follow US-340 south into Virginia, leading straight into Skyline Drive thru Shenandoah National Park. Now, things get pretty easy: Skyline Drive runs right alongside the AT for 100 miles, and is extended heading south into the more famous Blue Ridge Parkway -- another 450 miles (though the hiker's AT diverges west of Knoxville...)

These scenic mountain-top drives are very pretty, but very slow (35mph maximum!) -- so if you want to make up time, I-81 is not a bad alternative drive. Either way, you're nearly in Tennessee!

Hope this overview helps a little -- and hope you have a great trip! And if and when I get a GPS-friendly app together, I'll let you know. For now,

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA: Appalachian Trail ** available NOW **

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