Earn college credit and lifetime skill sets — all while hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Master Outside & Inside

The Semester-A-Trail Program is a unique opportunity for students who seek a learning experience that goes well beyond the classroom. Students in the program earn at least 12 hours of college credit in a single college semester while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (or an adventure of similar depth and scope). The experience offers students a synthesis of academic learning and outdoor adventure in an intensive, goal-oriented journey that will challenge them both physically, mentally and intellectually, immersing students in real-world competencies and challenges that build skillets that last a life-time.

During the semester of travel on the Appalachian Trail, students are required to take English 328: Nature Writing, a three-credit course, which provides an excellent outlet to reflect upon your journey and discover yourself.  Students typically enroll in 12 semester hours of course work, and work one-on-one with the Director of Semester-A-Trail and their advisors to construct a schedule and select courses that are conducive to the experience. The Semester-A-Trail Program offers students the opportunity to build independent studies and projects with broadened field-based implications. Student hikers have developed imaginative projects across the curriculum in ecotourism, human physiology, water quality, wellness, and photography.


A student considering the experience should consult Jim Harrison, Director of Outdoor Programs.

Candidates for Semester-A-Trail will be required to:

  • Hold a current Wilderness First Aid and CPR certificate by date of embarkation,
  • Have completed Physical Education 164: Hiking/Backpacking, with a final grade of B or better.
  • Be a member of the Outdoor Program in good standing.
  • Successfully complete at least three Outdoor Program backpacking trips,
    Hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5,
  • Complete a four-year advising plan,
    Submit a comprehensive trip plan, containing but not limited to a budget, risk management plan, and logistics (resupply/support plan, gear list, etc.).

Transfer Students 

Transfer students must be at Emory & Henry College for a year and meet all prerequisites in order to be considered candidates for Semester-A-Trail adventure. Physical Education 164 must be completed at Emory & Henry to qualify.


We offer the option to be enrolled in classes both at Emory & Henry College and the academic institution you are transferring from. This option allows students to retain their enrollment privileges at their current academic institution, while enjoying the benefits of being an E&H student. Upon completion of the Semester-A-Trail, dual-enrollment students can return to their original institution with the college credits earned during the Semester-A-Trail as quality transferable credits, and newfound skills!

Expenses & Cost

Semester-A-Trail entails costs beyond those involved in on-campus study. As a general rule, the student should expect to incur the costs associated with outfitting or gearing up for the trip and for travel (for example, to and from the terminuses of the Appalachian Trail).

During the spring semester of travel, the student will reside on campus to complete course work and final trip preparations until the embarkation goal of March 1 of that year. The tuition rate for the semester will not be affected. Room and board expenses, however, will be prorated for the time spent on campus, and the college will make remaining funds available to the student for use during the trail experience.