Whiteside Mountain in autumn at dawn in North Carolina

Celebrating 100 Years Since The Appalachian Trail’s Inception

The Appalachian Trail is an Incomparable Recreation Resource

Stretching roughly 2,200 miles across the Appalachian Mountains, The Appalachian Trail is an American treasure. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, it is the longest dedicated hiking trail in the world. This is a trail so long it winds through 14 different states, with Georgia and Maine at each end.

Roughly 2 million hikers set out on sections of the trail each year. Some even take part in “thru-hikes”, a journey that will take you from one end of the trail all the way to the other. 715 northward thru-hikes were recorded in 2017, in addition to 133 southward journeys.

The sprawling trail connects hundreds of local trail networks. As a result, 31 separate trail clubs and conservancies are responsible for maintaining this massive path. The National Park Service, United States Forestry Service, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy are responsible for most of the trail’s maintenance.

A Bold Vision and Unprecedented Cooperation

American forester, planner, and conservationist Benton MacKaye shared his dream for The Appalachian Trail in October, 1921. That is when the Journal of the American Institute of Architects published MacKaye’s article calling for the trail’s construction.

Read Benton MacKaye’s original article:
“An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning”

He saw the trail as a way to connect Americans across geographical and economic lines. That is why this trail would combine local trail networks across a huge swath of public land. It was a bold vision in conservation that would be available to all Americans—a grand showcase of our beautiful eastern mountain range.

The trail came together over more than a decade of cooperative planning and trailblazing. By 1937 the trail was complete, with changes and improvements occurring to this day.

The Appalachian Trail’s legacy of cooperation and conservation is still alive. You can see this as caretakers and patrons honor that legacy every day. A hike on the Appalachian Trail puts you right in the center of America’s natural beauty and spirit of determination.

So, have you had a chance to step foot on this one-of-a-kind trail? If you haven’t, pick up an ink pen and write it on your bucket list.

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