Walking and Hiking the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail that stretches across many state lines throughout America. It goes from the state of Georgia all the way up to Maine, and consists of several states including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Jersey, Tennessee and North Carolina, just to name a few. It was first discovered and established by a naturalist named Benton MacKaye, who envisioned a masterful and wonderful natural trail that would reach through farms and natural forests. It was first developed to encourage people who lived in the city to experience nature for themselves and go out and explore the natural world. The trail is an important part of the American landscape and an integral piece of the country’s image. The Appalachian Trail began in 1921, and the first section opened to the public in 1923.
The Appalachian Trail is approximately 2,181 miles in length. Every year, thousands of people flock to walk the trail, but only a few actually walk the entire thing. Hikers from all over the world come to enjoy the trail’s natural beauty, flora and fauna, and to learn new hiking and camping skills. There are over 250 different campsites and lodging areas throughout the trail. Most people cannot complete hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, simply because it can take several months to finish. Approximately ten percent of all hikers walk the entire Appalachian Trail, and as of 2010, the total number of “tru hikers” as they are called reached over 11,000 in total. The first person to complete the trail was Earl Schaffer in 1948. It takes a person with stamina and skill to hike the entire trail, but most people will say it is well worth the effort to see America’s natural beauty.
There are countless numbers of species of animals and plants along the Appalachian Trail. Many hikers walk to see the different birds, mammals, and trees that line its path. Some animals that can be seen include the American black bear, deer, elk, moose, and reptiles such as the copperhead and different species of rattlesnake. Just as diverse are the different types of plants along the trail like maple, beech and birch trees, countless species of wildflowers, spruce and fir trees, and wild grasses, to name a few. Overall, the Appalachian Trail is safe, however there are a few dangers that come along with hiking in the wild. Some of these include poisonous oak or ivy, various insect bites or stings, and potential snake bites. Additionally, some people might become dehydrated or fatigued, and sunburn can also be a problem for some. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are also a potential danger. Hikers should remember to always stay on the trail and never hike alone. Bringing plenty of water and a first aid kit is also recommended. There are several small towns along the Appalachian Trail. The towns have benefited from the trail, offering hikers supplies and food. Some towns that are well known along the trail include Harpers Ferry, Virginia, Erwin, Tennessee, and Hanover, New Hampshire.
For more information about the Appalachian Trail, please refer to the following websites:
- The Appalachian Trail Conservancy – This organization is dedicated to educating people and conserving the Appalachian Trail.
- ANST – Website for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
- Georgia Appalachian Trail Club – This Georgia group is all about hiking and exploring the trail.
- Maps – This site has images of maps for the trail throughout several states.
- The AT State by State – This site takes you through the Appalachian Trail, state by state.
- Shelters on the Trail – A helpful list of campsites and shelters within each state along the trail.
- The Appalachian Trail Museum – This museum has plenty of pictures, historical information, and much more.
- Thru-Hiking – A website that is designed for people planning to hike the entire trail.
- Gear List – This list should help hikers decide what to bring before their hike.
- History of the Trail – Discover more about the history of the trail by reading this helpful article.
- Animals on the Trail – Here are some of the animals you can spot while hiking the Appalachian Trail.
- Resource Page – This site has plenty of links and resources for everything dedicated to the trail.
- Common Plants – Print this checklist of commonly found plants along the trail and take it with you to discover the different flora that lives there.
- 12 Facts – Here are 12 interesting facts you may not know about the Appalachian Trail.
- Highlights of the Trail – Read one person’s account of the many highlights to be found along the trail.
- Record Breaking Hiker – Learn about Jennifer Davis, a female hiker who has hiked the trail in record time.
- Trail Basics – Read about the history of the Appalachian Trail, towns, the water along the trail, and much more.
- Distance Calculator – Use this handy tool to calculate the distance between different landmarks along the trail.
By: Ed Siceloff
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