2016_1_16 NPOTA AT TR01, VA

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (TR01), or “AT” as it is commonly known, starts in Georgia ends at the summit of Mt. Khatadin, Maine. With a route of over 2,200 miles it is one of most hiked trails in America. The AT is a popular long distance trail for “thru” hikers, those who hike the entire trail.



  • 40 Meters
  • 20 Meters
  • 10 Meters


Activation Date: January 16th, 2016

For activation purposes, the AT being a National Scenic Trail requires the activation to be accessed and operated on the trail. I decided to activate the trail in VA, so I found a trailhead off of I-66 near Markham, VA.

AT Interactive Map

Appalachian Trail
I hiked about 2 miles in and set up my Elecraft KX3 with an endfed antenna. Couldn’t get any contacts, so I tore it down and headed back to the trailhead where I tried again, this time with my Alexloop. Got a couple of contacts, but not enough to activate. Still had fun being out in the woods and enjoying the trail.

Appalachian Trail




Activation Date: January 18th, 2016

This AT activation I did in PA on the ridge that overlooks I-76. I found a trailhead with parking online, and headed up with a good friend. He had thru hiked the AT several years ago and is always up for a hike on the trail. However, the amateur radio event was a new thing for him. The morning we headed out, it was 18 degrees F and the wind was gusting to 32 knots, giving us a nice balmy 8 degrees F wind chill.

I should also mention the “summit” that sits on the AT is a designated Summit on the Air (SOTA) point so I would be activating both the NPOTA site and SOTA summit at the same time.

SOTA Summit: W3/PH-001
It was a cold for the first 30 minutes until we warmed up. Once we got to the correct spot (via the GPS), I quickly set up the radio and antenna, self spotted, and managed to work 27 contacts on 40m Phone. After about 30 minutes my fingers were going numb and it was time to pack it up. Two miles back the way we came and we were back at the vehicle.
Overall, a great time and nailed two activations. Thanks to all my contacts who had patience with my frozen brain and slow writing hands.  Next time I need to bring some lightweight gloves, a clipboard, and be a little better prepared with my notes (designators, etc) so I can be more efficient with my logging. I normally use a laptop to log contacts, and going back to paper logging slowed me down. In the past I have used a Rite-in-the-Rain notebook which worked fairly well.