15 Animals on the Appalachian Trail

Written by Colby Maxwell
Published: May 13, 2022
Image Credit Wesley Aston/Shutterstock.com
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The Appalachian Trail is one of the most wildlife-rich regions of the entire United States. Traversing this tough trail without seeing some cute critters is nearly impossible! If you are planning on crossing the entire trail, a part of it, or are just curious what kind of animals live on it, you are in the right place! Let’s discover 15 animals on the Appalachian Trail.

What is the Appalachian Trail?

Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only trail in the entire world.

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The Appalachian Trail is considered by most to be the longest hiking-only trail in the entire world. It begins in Georgia and extends well into the most northern state in the US, Maine. Most thru-hikers require six months to complete the trail, showing just how long and tough it can be.

Part of the draw of the trail is the views and scenery, but another one is the wildlife! There are tons of wildlife that live on or around the trail. Today, we are going to take a look at some of the most interesting animals you are likely to encounter across it. Let’s get started!

15 Animals on the Appalachian Trail

Black bear

15 Animals on the Appalachian Trail
Black bears live across most of the Appalachian Trail.

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Of the two species of bear that live in the United States, the black bear is the only one that lives along the Appalachian Trail. Black bears can be found in high numbers across most of the trail and in every state they meander through. As a result, bear bags, spray, and proper food preparation are important elements for anyone hiking. Still, these animals want food scraps, not humans, and interactions are common but usually insignificant.

Birds

golden eagle in flight
Golden eagles can be spotted on the Appalachian Trail.

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The most common animals a hiker on the AT (Appalachian Trail) is likely to see are birds. There are hundreds of species of birds across the US, and the varied habitats the AT travels through make ideal conditions for bird watchers. In fact, many people keep a journal of all the types of birds they see. Birds on the Appalachian Trail include wild turkeys, golden eagles, American goldfinches, orioles, and many more.

Elk

15 Animals on the Appalachian Trail
Elk have recently been reintroduced to the Appalachian Mountains.

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Historically, elk roamed the Appalachian Mountains but went extinct. Incredibly, they have recently been reintroduced as a conservation project. The project is quite successful, and the result is a stable population of elk across the Trail! The best places to see elk are in the regions they have been reintroduced, primarily the Blue Ridge Mountain range in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Deer

A white-tailed deer standing in a meadow
White-tailed deer can be sighted across the Appalachian Trail.

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Although not as exciting as elk, whitetail deer are another common site across the AT. Most sightings are at a distance as they are quite skittish animals. The best time to see deer are around dusk and dawn.

Boar

What Do Boars Eat
Wild boars can be found in lower elevations along the trail.

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Wild boars are large pigs that roam most of the United States. The AT is no different, and boar are common across much of the range. They generally avoid the higher elevations, however, and stick to lower areas along the trail.

Coyotes

15 Animals on the Appalachian Trail
Coyotes are common scavengers across the Appalachian Trail.

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Commonly mistaken for wolves, coyotes are often seen in small groups or by themselves around the trail. They aren’t fond of humans and generally stay away, although they can be dangerous if approached. Generally, they are only seen while moving around and at a distance.

Raccoons

raccoon in tree
The most common times to see raccoons on the trail are around dusk and dawn.

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Trash pandas (raccoons) are quite common around the Trail! In fact, these little mammals are known for stealing food and causing a ruckus around camp. They are smart enough to get food that has been stored, hidden, or stashed but don’t like to interact with humans. The most common times to see raccoons are around dusk and dawn, but they will likely make their way through the camp at night.

Skunks

15 Animals on the Appalachian Trail
Skunks are smelly residents across the Appalachian Trail.

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Although you don’t want to encounter skunks, it’s a distinct possibility on the AT. They are scavengers and will try for anything left out but don’t like to be around humans that much. If you see one, simply back away and hold your nose!

Moose

15 Animals on the Appalachian Trail
Moose live on the Appalachian Trail, but only north of Vermont.

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You don’t often think of moose living along the AT, but they are there! These massive members of the deer family aren’t present in the southern states, however, and only become a possibility once you cross the Vermont state line. Moose can weigh as much as 1400 lbs and can be aggressive, so keep away!

Snakes

An adult rat black snake peaks over a rock
Black rat snakes are among the most common snakes found on the Appalachian Trail.

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There are all sorts of snakes around the Appalachian Trail. The most common are black rat snakes, gray rat snakes, copperheads, and timber rattlesnakes.

Squirrels and chipmunks

Eastern Gray Squirrel
Gray squirrels are one of five species of squirrel that can be found on the trail.

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There are five species of squirrel that live on the App Trail, the gray squirrel, fox squirrel, red squirrel, northern flying squirrel, and southern flying squirrel. They each inhabit various ranges of the trail, with the largest being the fox squirrel and the smallest being the flying squirrel. Additionally, chipmunks can be found across much of the trail.

Foxes

15 Animals on the Appalachian Trail
Red foxes live on the Appalachian Trail.

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There are two species of fox across the App Trail; the red fox and the gray fox. They are rare to see and don’t like to be near humans. If you see a fox and it’s acting strangely, beware. Rabies is a common disease among the species.

Rabbits

Snowshoe Hare
Snowshoe hares can be found in the northern regions of the trail.

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The two species of rabbits and hares present on the trail are the snowshoe and the brown hare. The snowshoe hare only lives in the northern regions of the trail, starting north of New Jersey.

Bobcats and Lynx

15 Animals on the Appalachian Trail
Bobcats are the most common wildcats seen across the United States.

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The bobcat is the more common of the two wild cats that could live across the trail. Bobcats are common in nearly every state and live in stable populations nearly everywhere. The Canada lynx only lives in the further northern regions of the US, and seeing this wild cat on the trail is possible but extremely unlikely.

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