I'm trying to figure out how busy the AT will be in early October in western Maine?

We're looking to do a 6 day section and I'm trying to determine whether we need to carry a tent, or if we can plan on shelter space.

1 Answer 1


Early October should not be overly busy. South bounders (SOBO) starts around July and will be out of Main by that time. North bounders (NOBO) must finish before October 15 and many of them will already have completed the trail.

For SOBOs, June-July is the peak season for Maine. There are less than 500 thru hikers per season in this direction.

For NOBOs, July-August is the peak season (in my humble opinion). There is roughly 3000 thru hikers in this direction and about 600 make it up to Main/Katahdin.

This makes up the majority of the hikers (GA-ME, ME-GA). Section hikers and flip-floppers may still be in those areas. However those groups don't typically form a bubble.

There could still be large organized groups (such as boy scouts) taking 1-2 shelters. Although this is not proper trail etiquette (large groups should have their own accommodation) this can sometimes happen on the AT.

I would consider carrying a shelter anyway. October is starting to be cold and I personally find lean-to's not particularly warm.


GA>ME: Georgia to Maine
ME>GA: Maine to Georgia

  • 2
    There are a lot of acronyms that I don't understand here (SOBO, NOBO, GA) and words that seem a bit slangy (flip-floppers, bubble). It'd be better to make these clearer as the uninitiated (me included) likely won't understand these terms.
    – user2766
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 8:49
  • I guess for those who know of Appalachian Trail, they have to know about SOBO and NOBO (South Bound and North Bound respectively), and that that ME>GA is Maine to Georgia. But yes, agreeing to what @liam said, the answer could add those abbreviations.
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 8:57
  • @Liam, I agree. I was also thinking that these could also make good questions on their own.
    – ppl
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 16:28
  • Yep, why not @ppl!
    – user2766
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 16:30
  • What is a flip flopper?
    – user2766
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 16:30

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