Benton MacKaye Trail Thru-Hiker Guide


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Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links
Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links


In 2008 I retired and started my BMT/AT thru-hike. It didn't end as well as I planned - I got injured near Pearisburg, VA. After 200 more miles of fighting through it I got off and saw a doctor.

When I decided to hike the Benton MacKaye Trail instead of the AT for that first section, I tried to buy a guidebook that covered the trail . But back then no one was publishing a guidebook for the entire trail, only for the Georgia section - and that guidebook was way more than a thru-hiker would want to carry.

The solution: Make my own guide book.

I have tried making just about every other piece of gear you can think of, so why not make my own guidebook?

I was in Iraq at the time, so when I had some time off and an internet connection, I started to work on the project. The BMTA Website: gave me a great starting point since it listed most of the available re-supply points. I took that information and started "guestimating" many of the mileages of places to use along the BMT. I also used Google to find information about services that the BMTA listed - and the places they didn't list. Before long I had a pretty darn good product that I was happy with.

Then in 2007 I came back from Iraq and the BMTA put out their Databook. I checked the mileages I had figured using the Internet, the BMTA website, Google Earth, and the "Brown Book" of the Smokies - I was actually within 1/2 mile of being right on the mileage by the end of the trail. I started driving the BMTA corridor in my spare time to confirm my data. When I left Springer Mountain in Jauary of 2008 I was very comfortable with my maps and guidebook. I was not let down.

I started "lending" out my data to friends that were planning to hike the BMT. I got feedback on the data and other issues (like my spelling and grammar errors). I used that feedback to tighten up the information and the way it was presented. I also found out about Mr Parkay's trail profile and track for Google Earth and started trying to incorporate that information. I put the whole thing aside for about a year while I worked on civilian employment.

The fall of 2009 I decided to finish the project. I liked the way the Appalachian Pages was laid out and undertook a massive reformatting project to make my guidebook look like that. I also really liked Jack Tarlin's Resupply Article for the AT which helped me on my thru-hike and decided to add a section to the guide similar to Jack's piece.

To be able to keep this annual project going I've decided to sell the book - the proceeds are never going to make me rich - but it should finance itself.

Example Pages:

Introduction State Maps Data/Profiles Planning Misc Information

Here is a download example in PDF format.

Corrections and updates will be available here: Errata Sheet

If you have contemplated hiking the BMT, here is a slideshow from Mags on his hike:

Mags BMT Thru-Hike

And a couple of videos about fording Slickrock Creek:
Foding Slickrock Creek on the BMT High Water Fording of Slickrock Creek
Normal High Water

So if you are thinking about hiking the BMT, HERE is where you go to get the guide you need.