Appalachian Trail Road Trip: From North Carolina to Pennsylvania

The United States has some pretty impressive road trip routes. From the Pacific and Atlantic Coast, to experience both in their entirety, a coast-to-coast road trip from San Diego, California to Savannah, Georgia, or even a border-to-border road trip from Montana to Arizona will be a journey you’ll never forget. With so many natural wonders, road trips are dedicated to seeing them up close and personal. There is a road trip known as the Appalachian Trail, also one of the best hikes in the US too, and in this case, I’m covering the places to see on the route from North Carolina to Pennsylvania.Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail Road Trip

Appalachian Mountains

One of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet, the Appalachian Mountains extend across the eastern region of the U.S. from Central Alabama all the way into Maine and even into Canada. Among these mountains, you’ll find a complex system of rivers, streams, springs, and waterfalls.

You’ll also find forests scattered throughout the southern part of the mountain range, making this one of the most unforgettable road trips you’re likely to take in your lifetime. Because the Appalachians extend for well over 2,000 miles, there are a ton of things to see and do during your road trip!

 Great Smoky Mountains

Situated right along the Tennesee-North Carolina border, the Smokies are known for their diverse animal and plant life. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park stretches over 500,000 acres and is a perfect place to visit during almost any time of the year. It’s one of the most visited national parks in the United States, making this a place you’ll want to check off of your bucket list. Things to do at the Great Smoky Mountains national park include:

  • Biking and Hiking (along portions of the Appalachian Trail)
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Horseback riding
  • Picnics
  • Scenic drives

Blue Ridge Mountains

Another piece of the Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, extends from Georgia all the way up into Pennsylvania. Within this mountain range, you can find six national forests: Chattahoochee, Cherokee, Nantahala, Pisgah, Jefferson, and Washington. Family-friendly things to do here include:

  • Blue Ridge Music Center (Virginia)
  • Fine dining
  • Recreational areas
  • Visit waterfalls

Related Read: 6 Things To Do In Maggie Valley, North Carolina

Shenandoah National Park

Right along the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll find Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, a park that was specifically created to restore land that was previously depleted in the past. If you’re looking for a backcountry experience, then look no further. Here you’ll find one of the most relaxing environments for a drive, walk, or even biking. Like the Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is beautiful at any time of the year, with each season highlighting some of the most beautiful scenery this park has to offer.

Pennsylvania Dutch Country (Lancaster)

Famous for being the home of the Amish community, this rural region of the Appalachians gives you a true countryside experience. Things to do here include catching a ride on an authentic steam train, visiting the Dutch Wonderland theme park, and you can even experience an authentic Amish farm.

Lancaster is also less than a two-hour drive away from Philadelphia, another Pennsylvania town with a rich culture and history. There’s the Constitutional Walking Tour, the Liberty Bell Center, and the Museum of the American Revolution. You can even rent a charter bus for you and your entire family to enjoy the city for a day or two, whether for a reunion or simply a big family trip.


While many parts of the Appalachian Mountains are perfect to visit year-round, keep in mind that weather conditions may vary as you travel along the mountains. These mountains extend from the South all the way up into the northeast U.S. and Canada, so temperatures range from temperate and humid to potentially arctic, respectively.

The Appalachian Mountains are full of many more fun, exciting, and family-friendly activities to do, so this is a road trip definitely worth taking. On this trip, you’ll have a chance to do almost anything, from the mountains to visiting major cities, and even visiting a few beaches!

Last Updated on June 25, 2023

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