Anatomy of the AT Guide

In 2003, software engineer David Miller left his job, family, and friends to hike 2172 miles of the Appalachian Trail. His journey resulted in his memoir, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, and a The A.T. Guide which has become the most popular guidebook on the Appalachian Trail.

The A.T. Guide, a.k.a. “The Awol Guide,” is the guidebook of choice for hikes of any length on the Appalachian Trail. The book contains thousands of landmarks such as campsites, water sources, summits and gaps. The trail’s elevation profile is included and every landmark is aligned to the profile. Hikers using this guide know where they are on the trail, what views, streams and campsites are ahead, and whether they’ll be hiking uphill or downhill to get there. The A.T. Guide answers all of your questions about how to get rides, where to stay, and where to get supplies. There are 94 maps of towns on or near the trail showing where to find these services and detailed listings for businesses. The A.T. Guide is the most innovative trail guidebook ever developed.

  • 2621 Mile to trail landmarks with point by point cumulative mileage (both NoBo & SoBo) including:
    • 1107 Water sources (potentially unreliable sources noted)
    • 347 Identified campsites or tent-sites on, or convenient to, the A.T.
    • 294 Shuttle services
    • 260 Shelters include distances to the last three and next three shelters & whether or not there is tent-site, privy, and bear cable (or bear box) access.
  • 1128 Service listings listed in order of distance from the trail including…
    • 433 URLs for service listings
    • 398 Lodging services (hostel, hotel/motels, and B&Bs)
    • 299 Resupply points (grocers, convenience stores, and outfitters)
    • 295 Parking areas with GPS coordinates
    • 70 Post offices (off map) with hours of operation & phone numbers
  • 94 Maps (for towns, areas, and difficult trail intersections) including…
    • Countless additional services not included in full text listings
    • 90 Post offices with hours of operation & phone numbers
    • Major road and trail crossings
    • GPS Coordinates & location based magnetic declination
  • 232 Pages, PUR bound* with a laminated cover to withstand the riggers of on trail use featuring…
    • 47 Custom icons for identification of services at a glance
    • Important information from state parks and trail maintaining clubs
    • Invaluable safety and best practices information
    • Plastic zip lock bag

*Polyurethane Reactive (PUR) binding is the most durable book binding glue available. It is far superior to Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) or any other adhesives used in traditional perfect binding.

Compare these Features

Weight of book (oz) 7.9 oz
Size (inches) 5.25′ x 7.5′
Town Maps 94
Elevation Profile YES (0.35″/mile)
Landmarks (water sources, summits, roads, etc…) @ 2617
Pages 232
Southbound Edition YES
Loose-leaf Edition YES
GPS Coords for Trailheads @ 295
Distance to next shelter north & south To previous 3 & next 3 shelters
Blurbs about historic landmarks YES
Layout Alternating Spreads

There are *common* things for which you will use your guidebook.  Base your guidebook choice on how easy it is to do these things, because you will be doing them every day:

  • You pass a gravel road or a trail crossing and want to know where you are.  Maybe it’s an indication that you’ve gone past a tent site or spring that you were looking for.  The A.T. Guide has more landmarks like this than any other source.  With it, you’ll be much more likely to find out where you are.
  • You’d like go into town, for example Falls Village, to get a maildrop.  Falls Village is close, but the path is not straightforward.  The A.T. Guide has a map of the town, so it’s a simple matter.
  • You want to know what kind of terrain is ahead.  The A.T. Guide has an elevation profile.  At a glance, you can see the ups and downs.
  • Another benefit of having the landmarks aligned with the profile is that the text is spaced proportional to the mileage.  Each data page in the book covers the same number of miles (20.2), so even without reading mileage numbers you can make a good guess at the mileage between landmarks.
  • You are in town and want to know what services there are.  Scan the text of each book and see how quickly you can find something, an outfitter for example.  In The A.T. Guide, services such as this will all be on a line of their own, preceded by an outfitter icon.  The business name is in bold.
  • You want to hike with just the pages you need.  The A.T. Guide is sold bound or loose-leaf, and every book sold from the website comes with a heavy-duty zip-lock bag.
  • You start your day at a shelter and want to hike 15-20 miles.  Will you finish near another shelter?  The average shelter-to-shelter distance is less than 10 miles. The A.T. Guide gives shelter-to-shelter mileages for the next three shelters.
  • While on the trail and looking at the mileage data, you see a road crossing with a town nearby.  You want to find out if the town has something you need, so you flip to the “Town info” part of the book.   In The A.T. Guide, most town services are a page turn away.  Even so, every data entry with additional “town” info provides a page number to make is easier to find that info.  The “town” entries have corresponding mileage, so you can easily cross-reference back to the data page.

The Anatomy of The A.T. Guide