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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The barred owl is one of the largest in the owl family. Usually found on the East Coast, this symbol of wisdom also can be found on the Appalachian Trail. Owls are easy to identify with their big, perfectly round eyes and large wingspans. They have rounded tail feathers and no ear tufts. Their hoots can be heard at night as these nocturnal birds communicate with one another while searching for prey.
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.
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!
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!
Squirrels and chipmunks
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.
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.
Bobcats and Lynx
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.
Summary of 15 Animals on the Appalachian Trail
|12||Squirrels and Chipmunks|
|15||Bobcats and Lynx|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Wesley Aston/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.