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Interesting and Amazing Fun Facts about the Appalachian Trail, a Popular Tourists Destination and Hiking Area in the US



Interesting and Amazing Fun Facts about the Appalachian Trail, a Popular Tourists Destination and Hiking Area in the US

The Appalachian Trail is honored in today’s Google slideshow doodle; click it to learn more about this 2,190-mile footpath that crosses 14 states in the United States! The longest hiking-only footpath in the world, the Appalachian trail has been a popular destination for tourists for almost a century. Along the east coast, it passes through lush forests, through raging rivers, and atop mountain summits. The Appalachian Trail was one of the nation’s first National Scenic Trails when The National Trails System Act was passed on October 2, 1968. Here are some interesting and amazing fun facts about the Appalachian Trail.

Quick Facts

  • Length: 2,198.4 miles (3,538.0 km) in 2023
  • Location: Appalachian Mountains
  • Designation: National Scenic Trail
  • Trailheads
    • Springer Mountain, Georgia
    • Mount Katahdin, Maine
  • Use: Hiking, backpacking
  • Highest point: Clingmans Dome, 6,643 ft (2,025 m)
  • Lowest point: Bear Mountain State Park, 124 ft (38 m)
  • Difficulty: Easy to strenuous
  • Season: Early spring to autumn for thru-hikers; year-round for other users

45 Interesting Facts about the Appalachian Trail

  1. Between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine, the Appalachian Trail, commonly known as the A.T., spans about 2,200 miles (3,540 km) and 14 states in the Eastern United States.
  2. The Appalachian Trail, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, is the world’s longest hiking-only trail. Every year, more than three million people hike segments of the trail.
  3. It was initially suggested in 1921, and it was finished in 1937. Since then, changes and advancements have persisted.
  4. As a result of the National Trails System Act of 1968, it was designated as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
  5. The Appalachian Trail is managed by the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service, and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. It is maintained by 31 trail clubs and several partnerships.
  6. Although some sections pass through towns, roads, and farms, the majority of the trail is in forests or wildlands.
  7. Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine are among the states it crosses on its way from south to north.
  8. Over 3,000 efforts to complete the trail are made annually, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, with approximately 25% of those attempts succeeding.
  9. Affiliated trail segments stretch from each end, from the south as the Eastern Continental Trail into the Southeastern states of Alabama and Florida, and the north as the International Appalachian Trail into Canada and beyond.
  10. The Triple Crown of Hiking in the United States is formally made up of the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail.
  11. Benton MacKaye, a forester, came up with the idea for the route. He produced the original draft of his “An Appalachian Trail, A Project in Regional Planning” plan shortly after the death of his wife in 1921.
  12. From the highest point in the North (Mount Washington in New Hampshire) to the highest point in the South (Mount Mitchell in North Carolina), MacKaye’s idea described a grand trail that would connect several farms and wilderness work/study camps for city inhabitants along the Appalachian Mountains.
  13. The trail’s first section, which runs from Bear Mountain in the west via Harriman State Park to Arden, New York, was inaugurated on October 7, 1923. MacKaye then demanded that a two-day meeting on the Appalachian Trail be held in Washington, D.C., in March 1925. The Appalachian Trail Conference (ATC), which is now known as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), was founded as a result of this conference.
  14. The cause was taken up by retired judge Arthur Perkins and his younger associate Myron Avery. Avery was ready to change the course of the investigation while MacKaye left the organization. From 1932 to 1952, the year of his death, Avery served as Chair of the ATC.
  15. In 1936, Avery became the first person to walk the entire trail end-to-end, though not as a thru-hike. After the trail up Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain was finished in August 1937, the ATC turned its attention to protecting the surrounding areas and laying out the trail for hikers.
  16. The Appalachian Trail Conference recognized Paul M. Fink in 1977 for being “the guiding influence” in developing the Trail in Tennessee and North Carolina in the 1920s.
  17. In 2019, Fink was admitted to the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame.
  18. Fink started communicating with hiker groups in New England about constructing the Trail in 1922, just one year after Benton MacKaye’s famous article advocating an Appalachian Trail was written. Fink was the first person Myron Avery spoke with when he started figuring out the AT’s southern path.
  19. The Roan Mountain, North Carolina, and Tennessee; the Mount Rogers high country, including Grayson Highlands, Virginia; the Pochuck Creek swamp, New Jersey; Nuclear Lake, New York; Thundering Falls, Vermont; and Saddleback Mountain, Maine were not among the trail’s current highlights in 1937.
  20. Six Boy Scouts from New York City and their guides are said to have completed a 121-day Maine to Georgia thru-hike in 1936, clearing and blazing all but three miles of the newly created trail. The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association recorded and approved the completed thru-hike years later.
  21. A hurricane that hit New England in 1938 caused significant damage to the path. As a result, many of the trail workers were called to active duty just before the beginning of World War II.
  22. By announcing the first purported through-hike in 1948, Earl Shaffer of York, Pennsylvania, made a significant contribution to the project’s popularity. Shaffer later claimed to have completed the first north-to-south thru-hike and to have done so in both directions.
  23. Chester Dziengielewski would later be recognized as the first person to trek from north to south. Shaffer, who is almost 80 years old, hiked the trail in 1998, making him the oldest person to claim a completed thru-hike.
  24. Peace Pilgrim became the first female hiker to finish the path in a single season in 1952, while 67-year-old Emma Gatewood became the first woman hiker to complete the northbound section in 146 days in 1955. She repeated her success two years later and then in 1963 when she was 75 years old.
  25. Due to the efforts of politicians and authorities, the ATC made headway in the 1960s in protecting the trail from development. Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin, proposed legislation to secure the route.
  26. The Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail were recognized as the first national scenic trails under the National Trails System Act of 1968, which also cleared the way for numerous more such pathways within the national park and national forest systems.
  27. The International Appalachian Trail extends 1,900 miles (3,100 km) northeast from Maine into New Brunswick and Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, where it comes to a stop at Forillon National Park. It is not an official continuation of the Appalachian route; rather, it is a separate route.
  28. The Appalachian Mountain range has further branches identified around the L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, in sections of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and along the western shore of Newfoundland, where it joins the Atlantic Ocean. Later, the route was expanded to include Greenland, Europe, and Morocco.
  29. The Appalachian Mountains extend south to Flagg Mountain in Alabama even if the Appalachian Trail comes to a stop in Georgia.
  30. The Pinhoti National Recreation Trail, which ends at Flagg Mountain in Alabama and Georgia, was linked to the southern end of the Appalachian Trail via the Benton MacKaye Trail in 2008.
  31. To offer state funding for trail upgrades, the Alabama state government established the Alabama Appalachian Mountain Trail Commission in 2010. However, an act of the US Congress would be needed to formally recognize Pinhoti as a part of the Appalachian Trail.
  32. The Amicalola Falls State Park visitor center is where the 8.8-mile (14.2-km) Appalachian Approach Trail in Georgia starts, and Springer Mountain is where it concludes. The Approach Trail frequently marks the start of attempts to complete a northward thru-hike because Springer Mountain is located in such a remote area.
  33. Before the southern terminus was moved from Mount Oglethorpe to Springer Mountain, the Approach Trail was initially constructed as a section of the Appalachian Trail.
  34. Numerous plant and animal species can be found along the Appalachian Trail, including 2,000 rare, endangered, or sensitive plants.
  35. Except for the sections of the path that follow the C&O Canal in Maryland and the Virginia Creeper Trail in Virginia, bicycles are not permitted on the majority of the trail. Except on the C&O Canal and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, horses and pack animals are not allowed. In towns and scenic natural areas, a few brief trail parts were constructed to meet ADA accessibility standards for wheelchair usage.
  36. More than 99% of the trail’s route is protected due to federal, state, or private ownership of the land or right-of-way. Several organizations, including environmental advocacy groups, governmental agencies, and individuals, maintain the trail.
  37. On average, approximately 4,000 volunteers spend over 175,000 hours working on the Appalachian Trail each year, with the majority of this work being managed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) organization. Eight national forests and two national parks are all traversed by the AT.
  38. The trail travels along the ridge line of the Appalachian Mountains, passing by many of their highest peaks and, with a few exceptions, traversing uninhabited wilderness. 99% of the trail presently is on public land, as opposed to the many hundreds of miles of private property it originally traveled through.
  39. Through memorandums of understanding with other public agencies whose land the trail traverses, including the U.S. Forest Service, national parks, national forests, Tennessee Valley Authority, state parks, and others who assist in administering portions of the trail corridor, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (originally, Appalachian Trail Conference) and the National Park Service oversee the entire length of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. An estimated $3 million is provided annually in volunteer services for trail maintenance.
  40. Researchers from a range of fields have used the Appalachian Trail as a resource.
  41. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the American Hiking Society are two groups that started research in 2007 to track environmental changes brought on by increased ozone levels, acid rain, smog, and other air quality problems.
  42. The trail served as the backdrop for both the 2015 movie with the same name and the 1998 book A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.
  43. After being used as a cover for Mark Sanford’s whereabouts during his extramarital affair in 2009, the phrase “hiking the Appalachian Trail” began to mean having an affair.
  44. The Trail travels through 14 different states:
    1. Georgia
    2. North Carolina
    3. Tennessee
    4. Virginia
    5. West Virginia
    6. Maryland
    7. Pennsylvania
    8. New Jersey
    9. New York
    10. Connecticut
    11. Massachusetts
    12. Vermont
    13. New Hampshire
    14. Maine
  45. On October 2, 2023, Google featured a Google Doodle on its homepage to celebrate the Appalachian Trail.
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