Appalachian Trail 75th Anniversary
Rich in history, beauty, and adventure, the Appalachian Trail celebrates its 75th anniversary this summer. Upon its completion on August 14, 1937, the Appalachian Trail became the longest hiking footpath in the world, stretching almost the entirety of the east coast and covering more than 250,000 of contiguous, preserved trail lands. The anniversary not only celebrates 75 years of the trail’s completion, but also commemorates the teamwork of the private organizations, individuals, and national and state agencies that worked together to finish and preserve this American triumph.
The idea for the Appalachian Trail sparked from Benton MacKaye, who proposed a series of farm, work, and educational camps along the Appalachian Mountains. These camps would get Americans away from the hustle and bustle of an increasingly industrial society and into the tranquility of nature. As time went on, facilitating a trail to connect the camps became MacKaye’s largest concern. The Appalachian Trail Conference was founded four years later to encourage the progress of an expansive trail. The National Trail Systems Act of 1968 designated the Appalachian Trail as one of the first national scenic trails, which would soon be covered within the governance of the National Park Service and National Forest systems. Since its completion in 1937, over 99% of the trail land has been rebuilt and has gone from private to public land for millions of nature-lovers to enjoy.
How can you celebrate this monumental anniversary? Visit Harpers Ferry, WV on August 11 and 12 to experience Appalachian Trail displays, guest speakers, workshops, activities, food, music and a parade. The Mather Training Center, part of the historic Storer College campus, will host presentations from Trail personalities and activities for children and the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, will also host a Saturday evening presentation by Appalachian Trail Museum president Larry Luxenberg about the history of the Trail. Guided hikes ranging from moderate to strenuous, and offering views of the Shenandoah or Potomac River, will be offered Sunday morning by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. To view the entire program of events surrounding the 75th anniversary celebration weekend, please visit here.
For those who do not live close to Harpers Ferry, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate this anniversary weekend! There are many regions of the country that have clubs to help maintain the Appalachian Trail, and many of these clubs are holding events. Please visit here to see a list of clubs and their locations. Get out and hike or volunteer on a section of the Appalachian Trail nearest you. Happy Anniversary!