Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail: A Path to Adventures Large and Small

June 24, 2010, 9:20 am

The idea for a trail that spanned the Appalachian Mountains is not new, in fact, it was first proposed by conservationist Benton MacKaye in 1921. After a year of lobbying for its creation MacKaye and supporters were able to round up enough volunteers to blaze the trail from Maine to Georgia. The trail became a reality when it was completed in 1937. Today the Appalachian Trail is the nation’s longest marked footpath traveling some 2,178 miles from Maine to Georgia.

Hikers along the trail can enjoy a wide range of activities including camping, birdwatching, fishing and photography. The trail provides the perfect opportunity for day trips or short travel through national parks and forests.

A trip along the entire route of the trail is not for the faint of heart and requires extensive planning. Most hikers that travel the entire route begin their journey in Georgia in March and end in Maine in late September. A trip from the north is generally more difficult. Most hikers that travel southbound begin their trip in June or July and finish in Georgia in November or December. Each year nearly 1,000 hikers complete the trip. Successful hikers include a 6 year-old boy, several octogenarians and a visually impaired man with his service animal.

Today the Appalachian Trail is a National Scenic Trail managed by both the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. More than 30 clubs and some 6,000 volunteers help to maintain the trail each year.

Appalachian Trail Fun Facts

  • The Appalachian Trail travels through 14 states.
  • The Appalachian Trail crosses through eight national forests, two national parks and 15 major rivers.
  • Elevations along the Appalachian Trail range from 6,643 feet at Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to near sea-level at the Hudson River in New York.
  • Nearly 165,000 white painted blazes mark the Appalachian Trail.
  • It takes approximately 5 million steps to walk the length of the Appalachian Trail.