New Appalachian Trail Maps by National Geographic


Not just for thru-hikers…

I have hiked many sections of the Appalachian Trail including much of New England, New York, and Maryland. Back in 2004, when I started section hiking the trail, the only option for trail maps were small but heavy books with full descriptions of the trail turn by turn. They came with separate waterproof topographic maps, that when you unfolded were giant and unwieldy.

It’s been a while since I’ve set foot on the AT so I was overjoyed to get a request from National Geographic for my honest review of their new 13 map guides to the Appalachian Trail*. Excuse for a hiking trip!



When it arrived, I immediately opened the Connecticut/Massachusetts map and just started poking around. Within ten minutes I had found a hike to Race Brook Falls that sounded perfect for my family. My husband and I also settled on a longer hike to the top of Bear Mountain, Connecticut’s highest peak.

After all the planning and a wet weekend out in the woods, here is my impression of National Geographic’s newest addition .



These are full topographical maps of the Appalachian Trail and surrounding area, everything needed in a map while thru-hiking the trail. They are surprisingly useful for day hikers and weekend trippers as well.

  • DSC01789Easy To Navigate – From the beginning overview map right down to specific trails and road intersections, finding the trail head has never been easier.
  • Light Weight – The right shape to fit in the pocket of your backpack and you only need to carry one thin and light map for the section of trail you are hiking.
  • Water Resistant – Left them in a side pocket for six miles of hiking in occasional rain and they looked just as good in the end as in the beginning, no warping or degrading of the pages from handling when wet.
  • Tear Resistant – Fully tested by my eleven month old who scrunched, bent, and pulled at the pages with glee when she got a hold of one while I was in the other room.
  • Camping Options – The guide in the front is the best I’ve ever come across. A bold font differentiates shelters and campsites on the AT as opposed to those on side trails. There is also info on water sources and if you need to make a reservation, among other things.
  • DSC01700Topographic Maps – It is easy to open the booklet until it is nearly flat so parts of the maps aren’t lost in the crack between the left and right pages.
  • Elevation Profile – This is included along the bottom of the topos with mileage between points of interest. It is easier to make intelligent decisions on how far to go in a day if you can get a quick glance at the terrain.
  • Everything Is Labelled – Not just what you need for hiking the AT. Day hikers will enjoy finding other mountains to hike in the area and waterways of interest.
  • Transportation To The Trail – This can be found in the beginning of the booklet with local lodging info. If you are section hiking with only one car, this can come in handy.
  • Misc Details – Specific rules for an area are written right on the maps as well as other useful information like driving mileage to a local town and car camping options on roads near the trail.
  • Price – You can purchase each map separate for about $15. So if you have the AT near you, grabbing a copy of your section won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
  • Proceeds from the purchase help support the Society’s vital exploration, conservation, scientific research, and education programs.




I only have two small complaints.

  • DSC01711There is quite a bit of information in the beginning that is unnecessary to carry with you on the trail, like leave no trace policies and Appalachian Trail history. It would be nice if it came as an insert you could remove or in a separate booklet altogether. This probably only matters if you’re the kind of backpacker that cuts off the handle to your toothbrush to save weight in your pack.
  • The binding consists of only two staples. These will probably hold the maps together for a section of the AT but if you want to use these maps for years, I suspect they may start to come apart. My daughter is pretty adept at shredding a book though and she couldn’t get it apart. I hope to be pleasantly surprised by their sturdiness over time.



Would either of these things stop me from buying these maps? No.

They seem to be a great value, sturdy and well thought out. I look forward to taking them on many hikes in the future. There is still so much Appalachian Trail that I haven’t explored yet.


Purchase on National Geographic‘s site

Purchase on Amazon



All trail photographs were taken by Znara on our wonderful Mother’s Day weekend hike in western CT and southern MA. Thanks Nat Geo for the maps that took us there!! Thanks to my Hubby too who helped us get out the door while wrangling two adorable but crazy kids. We stayed at the Locust Tree Bed and Breakfast, since it was still too cold to camp with our baby. They were wonderful hosts, set in a beautiful spot, and their prices are very reasonable.

  • I only received free maps in exchange for this review. I won’t receive any compensation if you decide to purchase them. This review contains my honest thoughts. I hope it is helpful.

Fun fact: Bear mountain is not the highest point in Connecticut, despite being our highest summit. The highest point is on the slope of Mt. Frissell, whose summit lies in Massachusetts.

Happy Hiking! -Znara

7 thoughts on “New Appalachian Trail Maps by National Geographic

  1. Pingback: National Geographic’s Appalachian Trail Topographic Map Guides, on tour May 2016 | TLC Book Tours

  2. Nick P

    Thanks for these reviews. I’m on the fence but leaning the way of a purchase of some of the maps (or all of them I’m not sure yet).

    1. znara Post author

      I am glad that you enjoyed it. I hope you are able to hike them someday. There are so many lovely spots to explore. Send me an email if you ever want any recommendations. I am happy to help.

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