Snakes on the Appalachian Trail

Though most of the snakes you will encounter will be nonpoisonous, some poisonous snakes do inhabit the Appalachian Mountains. These include:

Copperheads are found from Georgia to Maine, but rarely spotted north of Massachusetts.

Timber rattlesnakes are found from Georgia to Maine, but again, rarely spotted north of Massachusetts.

Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes inhabit Georgia and North Carolina.

Pygmy rattlesnakes can be seen Tennessee and south.

Cottonmouths live Virginia and south.

The Massasauga rattlesnake inhabits New York and Pennsylvania.

Like all the other animals you will encounter, these poisonous snakes will only be dangerous when surprised or cornered. While walking, use your hiking stick to push aside leaves and brush that cover the path. If you do surprise one of these poisonous snakes, do not freeze. Move immediately and quickly away.

Getting bit by a snake: It is rare to get bit by a poisonous snake on the trail. If you were off the trail and bitten by a poisonous snake, the advice would be to get to a hospital. Should you get bit on the trail where access to a hospital may not be feasible, the advice is to stay calm, find shelter and warmth, expect to be sick, and call or send for help. There may be swelling, nausea, and shortness of breath, but the odds are in your favor that you will survive a poisonous snake bite just by toughening it out.

The nonpoisonous snakes that inhabit the Appalachian Trail include garter snakes, black snakes, corn snakes andwater snakes.

About the Author Steve Burge:
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Irma Gerd on Feb 18, 2014
Technically, they are venomous snakes. A poisonous snake would be one that could kill you if you bit it, not the other way around.
Jefferson on Nov 7, 2014
This is a helpful page, but Diamondbacks only live in Southeast Georgia and the coastal plain of North Carolina, never coming within 200 miles of the trail. Pigmy rattlers are the same, and do not inhabit any territory beyond the lower Piedmont in states where they are present. Massasaugas only live in the extreme western reaches of Pennsylvania and New York and similarly do not pose a risk to hikers on the AT. The presence of the Cottonmouth on the southernmost 20 miles of the trail is possible, though they are rare anywhere north of Atlanta and completely absent within 30 miles of the border with North Carolina and Tennessee, and it is debatable as to whether they are even present in the AT section of Georgia anymore (<a href='' target=_blank rel=nofollow></a> range map).