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Welcome to NIU Outdoor Adventures!


We offer a wide range of off-campus trips, from day trips to local forest preserves to 8+ day trips to National Parks across the country.


If you don't see what you're looking for, let us know and we may be able to add it! We also offer custom trips for groups of friends or extended family at incredibly reasonable prices.


Check out our page for more trip information to help you decide if it's the right fit for you.

Appalachian Trail Backpacking

Saturday, June 8 - Sunday, June 16, 2024

Backpack the Appalachian Trail with NIU Outdoor Adventures! (Open to the public) 

REGISTER TODAY before the spots fill (only 10 participants unless we add a second van).

Join us for an EPIC 8 day summer trip backpacking the Appalachian Trail from the approach trail at Amicalola Falls State Park where we will explore the tallest waterfall in Georgia, hike to Springer Mountain - the official start of the infamous Appalachian Trail, a 2,100 footpath from Georgia to Maine, then hit the AT (Appalachian Trail) for about 8 miles a day!  (Hiker Resources) (Interactive Map)

Overall hiking plan:

  • We will hike an average of 8 miles a day over flat and uneven terrain with elevation changes.

  • The itinerary and mileage may change at any point due to weather, shuttle delays, participant health, and safety, etc.


  • Saturday, June 8, 8:00 AM - Leave NIU Rec Center, drive about 8 hours and stay overnight at a group site along the way.

  • Sunday, June 9, 8:00 AM drive to Amicalola Falls State Park (AFSP) in Dawsonville, GA. Hike the approach trail  (about 8 miles) to Springer Mountain, GA - the official start of the infamous Appalachian Trail (AT)! (AKA, the Southern Terminus)

  • Monday, June 10 - Saturday, June 15 we will backpack the AT and camp in/near shelters along the way with the end goal of Neels Gap, 29.3 miles away.  (Springer Mountain to Neels Gap 29.3 miles).  Then Neels Gap toward Hogpen Gap, 8.1 miles.

  • Saturday, June 15th, take a shuttle back to AFSP and head toward home.  We'll stay at a group site about 6 hours closer to Chicago. 

  • Sunday, June 16 head back to NIU!

Registration includes:

  • Trained, professional staff from NIU Outdoor Adventure

    • Assistant Director Shannon Range (Wilderness First Responder)

    • College staff

  • Transportation from NIU to the trail and back.

  • ALL food from lunch on day 1 to lunch on the last day.

  • Gear as needed (tents, backpacks, headlamps, hiking poles, sleeping bags, etc.)

  • Fun, laughter, and amazing opportunities to get in shape and create memories of a lifetime!

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC - Minimum 14 years old with a guardian. 

Adventure Investment:

Early registration by 4/1/24

  • $375 for NIU students 

  • $400 for non-NIU students 

Regular registration after 4/1/24

  • $400 for NIU students 

  • $425 for non-NIU student


Email Assistant Director Shannon Range


  • Are MINORS allowed on the trip?  Yes, as long as they are 14 years old or older (may be exceptions - reach out to Shannon), are mature and fit enough to handle the trail, carrying their gear and share of the group's food.

  • Are DOGS allowed on the trip?  Technically, dogs are allowed on these portions of the trail but we don't have space to bring them in the vans and want to ensure barking doesn't disrupt other participants.  However, if you want to drive yourself and be willing to separate from the group in the event of barking disruptions, you are welcome to do so.

  • Do you rent GEAR?  We do rent gear but s gear is included with this trip.  No need to rent.

  • I am a picky eater.  Can I bring my own FOOD?  Sure!  Using group meal planning, we estimate about $3 for breakfast, $4 for lunch, and $5 for dinner each day for a total of $12 daily for 9 days less breakfast on day 1 and dinner on the last day for a total of about $105 for the trip.  This is included in the trip fee.   If you would rather bring your own food, let us know and we may be able to work out a reduced fee.

  • Can I DRIVE myself there?  Absolutely!  Just let us know ahead of time.  We determine our pricing based on filling our 12-passenger van/s.  If you driving yourself results in us being able to add another participant, we can look into a discounted rate or a credit toward a future gear rental, etc. 

  • Do I have to be SUPER FIT to do this trip?  You need to be able to hike about 8 miles a day on uneven terrain with elevation changes AND carrying a backpack with all your gear and a portion of the group food as well as your water and personal items.  How to prepare for hiking the AT.

  • How will we SHOWER and go to the BATHROOM?  We'll be backpacking in the middle of nowhere, for the most part and will not have access to showers or traditional bathrooms.  These articles (hygiene & bathroom breaks) are a great resource on how to manage hygiene on the trail.

  • I don't have HIKING SHOES/BOOTS.  Can we rent them?  Unfortunately, no.  Here is a great resource for choosing footwear for the trail.

  • What do we need to PACK for this trip?  Great question, we'll have a few pre-trip meetings to discuss this.  In the meantime, you guessed it, check out this great resource on what to pack for a backpacking trip!

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