AT shelter lead

Appalachian Trail Shelters: A Home For Hikers

A trail shelter can be a welcome refuge for a weary AT thru-hiker, especially during a thunderstorm. Thankfully, there quite a few shelters spread out along the 2,193 miles of the Appalachian Trail that stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Tracking AT Thru-Hiker Number 2 Pencil

At American Outdoor Guide Boundless, we continue to follow the progress of the AT thru-hiker dubbed Number 2 Pencil (most hikers have a trail nickname) in his quest to hike the entire length of the trail. About 3,000 hikers attempt to complete the trail each year, but only about one in four succeed. Number 2 Pencil has posted 63 videos to date on his YouTube channel, The Heard Hiker.

Typical AT shelter
Here’s a typical shelter along the Appalachian Trail. Larry Metayer /

More Than 250 Trail Shelters Available 

In Episodes 60 and 62 of his video journal, Number 2 Pencil gives us a tour of two different types of shelters he’s come across. Many are open-front, lean-to shelters. Others are fully enclosed. Most are available on a first-come, first-served basis. They vary in size to and can accommodate from 4 to as many as 10 hikers (in the double-decker shelters).

According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, “There are more than 250 backcountry shelters located along the A.T. at varying intervals. They are an average of about 8 miles apart, but can range from 5 miles to 15 miles apart, or even as much as 30 miles apart when there is a town with some sort of lodging in between…Some shelters have food storage systems in place to protect food from bears and other animals, but the majority do not.”

There’s A Mouse In The House

Interestingly, there are more problems with mice at these trail shelters than there are with bears. The little critters will often chew through packs looking for food if they are left within reach and have been known to scurry into hikers’ sleeping bags. Number 2 Pencil has often stopped at shelters to eat his lunch or dinner, but so far has preferred to sleep in his tent.

Follow Number 2 Pencil

Click on the videos below to see The Heard Hiker Number 2 Pencil as he continues his journey. And be sure to check AmericanOutdoor.Guide for more great outdoor adventures and how-to resources.

(Lead photo credit: Shanshan533 /


Wanna follow the progress of the AT thru-hiker dubbed Number 2 Pencil? Click on the links to read:

How AT Thru-Hiker is Dressed for Success

How An AT Thru-Hiker Selects The Food He Needs

Concealed Carry Handguns Giveaway