The Appalachian Trail is a scenic hiking trail filled with wondrous flora and interesting animals stretching from Georgia to Maine. In 1921, Benton MacKaye envisioned a scenic hiking trail comprised of farms and wilderness camps. It was his vision these places would provide city dwellers a place of solitude to study and enjoy nature.
These early efforts were solidified with the passing of the National Trail System Act of 1968. This gave the Appalachian Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail, official recognition as national scenic trails. This designation made National Scenic Trails located in National Parks and National Forests a reality.
The vision began in 1921 by Benton MacKaye became the Appalachian Tail, or AT, and in 1971 through the tireless efforts of countless volunteers, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the beautiful green corridor used by millions of visitors each year was officially mapped. Each year there are minor changes to the length of the AT because of land use or trail preservation.
In total, the AT is approximately 2,200 miles long, and the first section was opened in 1923. Shortly after, The Appalachian Trail Conference was formed in Washington, D.C to oversee the development of Benton’s grand trail. Eventually, The Appalachian Trail Conference would become the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which presently is the organization in charge of trail administration.
The long distance hiking trail passes through 14 states as it follows the Appalachian Mountains through some of the most beautiful scenery available in the eastern United States. The states represented by the Appalachian Trail in order from south to north are as follows:
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- New Jersey
- New York
- New Hampshire
Traditionally, the AT begins at Springer Mountain in Georgia and ends at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. However, a greater number of thru hikers are taking Earl Shaffer’s original idea and hiking the trail southbound by starting at Mt. Katahdin, which is located in Baxter State Park. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is predicting a record number of hikers utilizing the trail. If you are looking for solitude southbound might be your
If the time commitment of a thru hike covering the entire length is not feasible perhaps a section hike is just what you need to cure those city dweller blues. There are many great Appalachian Trail sections located in all 14 states of all levels and abilities. Whether it is for a day, week, month, or six get out and hike one of America’s natural treasures.
In 1948, Earl Shaffer became the first documented backpacker to thru hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. He completed the first thru-hike starting south and hiking north, and repeated his thru hike southbound.
If 2,200 miles was not enough hikers can continue north on the International Appalachian Trail by crossing into Canada. The International AT continues an additional 1,900 miles into Quebec and its conclusion in Forillion National Park. This is an unofficial section of the Appalachian Trail and not recognized, or maintained, by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Generally, the Appalachian Trail is made up of well-maintained trail sections which are maintained by over 30 local trail clubs. These local hiking clubs are comprised of volunteers committed to ensuring the AT is available for future generations to enjoy. If you would like to volunteer contact your local trail club.
This website contains information concerning the Appalachian Trail. Browse around and read some of the great articles. This could be the start of your personal walk in the woods.