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.