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Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

Overview
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, is a marked hiking
Hiking
Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking...

 trail in the eastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 extending between Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County of northern Georgia. It is now the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.-Geography:The mountain's peak is at above mean sea level.-Appalachian Trail:...

 in Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 and Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine at . Named Katahdin by the Penobscot Indians, the term means "The Greatest Mountain". Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park: a steep, tall mountain formed from underground magma. The flora and fauna on the mountain are typical of those...

 in Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

. It is approximately 2181 miles (3,510 km) long. Along the way, the trail passes through the states of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

, New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, and Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

. The path is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, and managed by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

.
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Encyclopedia
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, is a marked hiking
Hiking
Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking...

 trail in the eastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 extending between Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County of northern Georgia. It is now the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.-Geography:The mountain's peak is at above mean sea level.-Appalachian Trail:...

 in Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 and Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine at . Named Katahdin by the Penobscot Indians, the term means "The Greatest Mountain". Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park: a steep, tall mountain formed from underground magma. The flora and fauna on the mountain are typical of those...

 in Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

. It is approximately 2181 miles (3,510 km) long. Along the way, the trail passes through the states of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

, New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, and Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

. The path is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, and managed by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

. The majority of the trail is in wilderness
Wilderness
Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...

, although some portions traverse towns and roads, and cross rivers.

The Appalachian Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers
Thru-hiking
Thru-hiking is the process of hiking a long-distance trail from end to end. The term is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail, but is also used for other lengthy trails and long distance hikes, including the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. Thru-hiking is also...

, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season. Many books, memoirs, web sites and fan organizations are dedicated to this pursuit.

An unofficial extension known as the International Appalachian Trail
International Appalachian Trail
The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...

, continues north into Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and to the end of the range, where it enters the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

.

The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail
Continental Divide Trail
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico...

 and the Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance mountain hiking and equestrian trail on the Western Seaboard of the United States. The southern terminus is at the California border with Mexico...

 form what is known as the Triple Crown
Triple Crown of Hiking
The Triple Crown of Hiking informally refers to the three major U.S. long distance hiking trails:* Pacific Crest Trail - long, Washington, Oregon, and California between Mexico and Canada following the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range....

 of long distance hiking in the United States.

History


The trail was conceived by Benton MacKaye
Benton MacKaye
Benton MacKaye was an American forester, planner and conservationist. He was born in Stamford, Connecticut; his father was actor and dramatist Steele MacKaye. After studying forestry at Harvard University , Benton later taught there for several years. He joined a number of Federal bureaus and...

, a forester who wrote his original plan shortly after the death of his wife in 1921. MacKaye's idea detailed a grand trail that would connect a series of farms and wilderness work/study camps for city-dwellers. In 1922, at the suggestion of Major William A. Welch
William A. Welch
Major William Addams Welch was an American engineer and environmentalist who would have a major impact on the state and national park systems of the United States...

, director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Palisades Interstate Park and its creator, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, was formed in 1900 by governors Theodore Roosevelt of New York and Foster M. Voorhees of New Jersey in response to the destruction of the Palisades by quarry operators in the late 19th century...

, his idea was publicized by Raymond H. Torrey
Raymond H. Torrey
Raymond Hezekiah Torrey was the author of weekly columns, Outings and The Long Brown Path in the New York Evening Post in the 1920s and 1930s. The column played a major role in the development of the Appalachian Trail, the Long Path and the popularity of hiking generally...

 with a story in the New York Evening Post under a full-page banner headline reading "A Great Trail from Maine to Georgia!" The idea was quickly adopted by the new Palisades Interstate Park Trail Conference as their main project.

On October 7, 1923, the first section of the trail, from Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park is located on the west side of the Hudson River in Orange and Rockland counties of New York. The park offers biking, hiking, boating, picnicking, swimming, cross-country skiing, cross-country running, sledding and ice skating...

 west through Harriman State Park to Arden, New York
Arden, New York
Arden, is a hamlet around the town line of Tuxedo and Monroe, New York, in the United States. It is roughly coterminous with the 10910 ZIP Code....

, was opened. MacKaye then called for a two-day Appalachian Trail conference to be held in March 1925 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 This resulted in the formation of the Appalachian Trail Conference
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

 (now called the Appalachian Trail Conservancy).

A retired judge named Arthur Perkins
Arthur Perkins (Connecticut Judge)
Arthur Perkins was an American lawyer and judge from Hartford, Connecticut who, during his retirement, spearheaded the effort to make Benton MacKaye's vision of the Appalachian Trail—a proposed 2,000-mile contiguous footpath to run through fourteen states—a reality.Perkins appointed himself acting...

 and his younger associate Myron Avery
Myron Avery
Myron Haliburton Avery was an American lawyer, hiker and explorer. Born in Lubec, Maine, Avery was a protégé of Judge Arthur Perkins and a collaborator and sometimes rival of Benton MacKaye. He was president of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club from 1927 to 1941 and chairman of the Appalachian...

 took up the cause. In 1929, Perkins, who was also a member of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association
Connecticut Forest and Park Association
The Connecticut Forest and Park Association , established in 1895, is the oldest private, nonprofit conservation organization in Connecticut. The organization is credited as an important early pioneer of the national land conservation movement and as an early advocate of long distance trail building...

 and its Blue Blazed Trails committee, found Ned Anderson
Nestell Kipp Anderson
Nestell Kipp "Ned" Anderson was an American farmer who spearheaded Connecticut's leg of the Appalachian Trail, which currently runs for 50 miles through the northwest corner of the state...

, a farmer in Sherman, Connecticut
Sherman, Connecticut
Sherman is the northernmost and least populous town of Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 3,581 at the 2010 census. The town is named for New Haven's Founding Father, Roger Sherman....

, who took on the task of mapping and blazing the Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 leg of the trail (1929–1933). It ran from Dog Tail Corners in Webatuck, New York
Dover, New York
Dover is a town in Dutchess County, New York, United States. The population was 8,565 at the 2000 census. The town was named after Dover in England, the home town of an early settler....

, which borders Kent, Connecticut
Kent, Connecticut
Kent is a town in Litchfield County, Connecticut, alongside the border with New York. The population was 2,858 at the 2000 census. The town is home to three New England boarding schools: South Kent School, Kent School and The Marvelwood School. The Schaghticoke Indian Reservation is also located...

, at Ashley Falls, 50 miles (80.5 km) through the northwest corner of the state, up to Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain (Connecticut)
Bear Mountain, is prominent peak of the southern Taconic Mountains. It lies within the town of Salisbury, Connecticut, in the United States, and is the highest mountain summit in the state of Connecticut. The highest point in the state, however, is located on the south slope of Mount Frissell to...

 at the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 border. (A portion of the Connecticut trail has since been rerouted [1979-83] to be more scenic, adhering less to highways and more to wilderness, and includes a Ned K. Anderson Memorial Bridge.)

Anderson’s efforts helped spark renewed interest in the trail, and Avery (leading the charge since Perkins’ death in 1932) was able to bring other states onboard. Upon taking over the ATC, Avery adopted the more practical goal of building a simple hiking trail. He and MacKaye clashed over the ATC's response to a major commercial development along the trail's path; MacKaye left the organization, while Avery was willing to simply reroute the trail. Avery reigned as Chairman of the ATC from 1932 to 1952 (he died that same year).

Avery became the first to walk the trail end-to-end, though not as a thru-hike
Thru-hiking
Thru-hiking is the process of hiking a long-distance trail from end to end. The term is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail, but is also used for other lengthy trails and long distance hikes, including the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. Thru-hiking is also...

, in 1936. In August 1937, the trail was completed to Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain (Franklin County, Maine)
Sugarloaf Mountain is a mountain located in Franklin County, Maine. It is the second highest mountain in the state, after Mount Katahdin. Sugarloaf is flanked to the south by Spaulding Mountain....

 in Maine, and the ATC shifted its focus toward protecting the trail lands and mapping the trail for hikers. From 1938 to the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the trail suffered a series of natural and man-made setbacks. At the end of the war, the damage to the trail was repaired.

In 1948, Earl Shaffer
Earl Shaffer
Earl V. Shaffer , was an American outdoorsman and author known from 1948 as The Crazy One for attempting what became the first documented hiking trip over the entire length of the Appalachian Trail...

 of York, Pennsylvania
York, Pennsylvania
York, known as the White Rose City , is a city located in York County, Pennsylvania, United States which is in the South Central region of the state. The population within the city limits was 43,718 at the 2010 census, which was a 7.0% increase from the 2000 count of 40,862...

, brought a great deal of attention to the project by completing the first documented thru-hike. Later Shaffer also completed the first north-to-south thru-hike, making him the first to do so in each direction. In 1998 Mr. Shaffer, nearly 80 years old, again hiked the entirety of the trail, making him the oldest person ever to complete a thru-hike.

In 1994, a story appeared in the Appalachian Trailway News describing a 121-day Maine to Georgia thru-hike in 1936 by six Boy Scouts
Scouting in New York
Scouting in New York has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live...

 from the Bronx. Although the story has been accepted by some members of ALDHA, a great deal of doubt has also been expressed and this earlier thru-hike has never been verified. Shaffer's 1948 journey is still generally recognized as the first A.T. thru-hike.

In the 1960s, the ATC made progress toward protecting the trail from development, thanks to efforts of politicians and officials. The National Trails System Act of 1968 designated the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail as the first national scenic trails and paved the way for a series of National Scenic Trail
National Scenic Trail
National Scenic Trail is a designation for protected areas in the United States that consist of trails of particular natural beauty.National Scenic Trails were authorized under the National Trails System Act of 1968 along with National Historic Trails and National Recreation Trails...

s within the National Park and National Forest systems. Trail volunteers worked with the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 to map a permanent route for the trail, and by 1971 a permanent route had been marked (though minor changes continue to this day). By the close of the 20th century, the Park Service had completed the purchase of all but a few miles of the trail's span.

Extensions


The International Appalachian Trail
International Appalachian Trail
The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...

 is a 1900 miles (3,057.7 km) unofficial extension running north from Maine into New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

 and Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

. It is a separate trail, not an official extension of the Appalachian Trail. A further extension to Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

 has recently been completed.

In 2010, a group of geologists representing the International Appalachian Trail began a push to extend the trail across the Atlantic Ocean, across Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 in the North Atlantic and into Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

, then down to the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

 of Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

.

In 2008, the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
The Pinhoti Trail is a long-distance trail, long, locate in the United States within in the states Alabama and Georgia. The trail's southern terminus is on Flagg Mountain which is located near Weogufka, Alabama...

 in Alabama and Georgia was connected to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail via the Benton MacKaye Trail
Benton MacKaye Trail
The Benton MacKaye Trail or BMT is a footpath nearly in length in the Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States and is blazed by a white diamond, 5" across by 7" tall...

. Promoters of the Southern extension refer to MacKaye's statement at the 1925 conference that the Georgia to New Hampshire trail should, in the future, extend to Katahdin, and "then to Birmingham, Alabama". The Pinhoti Trail now terminates at Flagg Mountain, near Weogufka in Coosa County
Coosa County, Alabama
Coosa County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. Its name derives from a town of the Creek tribe. As of 2010 the population was 11,539, but since that time it has lost the most population by percentage of any Alabama county...

, 50 miles (80.5 km) east of Birmingham.

Flora and fauna


The Appalachian Trail is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, including 2,000 distinct rare, threatened, endangered, and sensitive plant and animal species.

Animals


The American black bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

 (Ursus americanus) is the largest omnivore that may be encountered on the trail, and it inhabits all regions of the Appalachians. Bear sightings on the trail are uncommon, and confrontations rarer still.
Other hazards include venomous snakes, including the Eastern timber rattlesnake
Crotalus horridus
Crotalus horridus, the timber rattlesnake, is a species of venomous pitviper found in the eastern United States. This is the only rattlesnake species in most of the populous northeastern United States. No subspecies are currently recognized....

 and copperhead
Agkistrodon contortrix
Agkistrodon contortrix is a species of venomous snake found in North America, a member of the Crotalinae subfamily. The more common name for the species is "copperhead". The behavior of Agkistrodon contortrix may lead to accidental encounters with humans...

, which are common along the trail. Both snakes are generally found in drier, rockier sections of the trail; the copperhead's range extends north to around the New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

-New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 state line, while rattlesnakes are commonly found along the trail in Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 and have been reported, although rarely, as far north as New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

. Other large mammals commonly sighted include deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

; elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

, reintroduced in the Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains or the...

; and moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

, which live as far south as Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 but are more commonly seen in northern New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

.
For most hikers, the most persistent pests along the trail are mice
MICE
-Fiction:*Mice , alien species in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy*The Mice -Acronyms:* "Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions", facilities terminology for events...

, which inhabit shelters, and bugs, which include tick
Tick
Ticks are small arachnids in the order Ixodida, along with mites, constitute the subclass Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites , living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians...

s, mosquito
Mosquito
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematocerid flies: the Culicidae . The word Mosquito is from the Spanish and Portuguese for little fly...

s, and black flies.

Plants


Plant life along the trail is varied. The trail passes through several different biomes from south to north, and the climate changes significantly, particularly dependent upon elevation. In the south, lowland forests consist mainly of second-growth; nearly the entire trail has been logged at one time or another. There are, however, a few old growth locations along the trail, such as Sages Ravine straddling the Massachusetts-Connecticut border and atop higher peaks along the trail on either side of the same border, the Hopper (a glacial cirque westward of the trail as it traverses Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts), and "The Hermitage", near Gulf Hagas in Maine. In the south, the forest is dominated by hardwoods, including oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 and tulip trees
Liriodendron tulipifera
Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar or yellow poplar, is the Western Hemisphere representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron, and the tallest eastern hardwood...

, also known as yellow poplar. Further north, tulip trees are gradually replaced by maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

s and birch
Birch
Birch is a tree or shrub of the genus Betula , in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. The Betula genus contains 30–60 known taxa...

es. Oaks begin to disappear in Massachusetts. By Vermont, the lowland forest is made up of maples, birch and beech
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

, which provide spectacular foliage displays for hikers in September and October. While the vast majority of lowland forest south of the White Mountains
White Mountains (New Hampshire)
The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England...

 is hardwood, many areas have some coniferous trees as well, and in Maine, these often grow at low elevations.

There is a drastic change between the lowland and subalpine
Subalpine
The subalpine zone is the biotic zone immediately below tree line around the world. Species that occur in this zone depend on the location of the zone on the Earth, for example, Snow Gum in Australia, or Subalpine Larch, Mountain Hemlock and Subalpine Fir in western North America.Trees in the...

, evergreen
Evergreen
In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs...

 forest, as well as another, higher break, at tree line, above which only hardy alpine plants grow. The sub-alpine region is far more prevalent along the trail than true alpine conditions. While it mainly exists in the north, a few mountains in the south have subalpine environments, which are typically coated in an ecosystem known as the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest
Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest
The Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest is a type of montane coniferous forest that grows in the highest elevations in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States...

. Southern ranges and mountains where sub-alpine environments occur include the Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains or the...

, where sub-alpine environments only begin around 6000 feet (1,828.8 m) in elevation, Roan Highlands on the North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

-Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 border, where sub-alpine growth descends below 6000 feet (1,828.8 m), and Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

 and the Grayson Highlands in Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, where there is some alpine growth above 5000 feet (1,524 m). Appalachian balds
Appalachian balds
In the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States, balds are mountain summits or crests covered primarily by thick vegetation of native grasses or shrubs occurring in areas where heavy forest growth would be expected....

 are also found in the Southern highlands, and are believed to occur due to fires or grazing in recent centuries, or in some cases due to thin, sandy soils. Several balds are sprouting trees, and on some, the National Forest
United States National Forest
National Forest is a classification of federal lands in the United States.National Forests are largely forest and woodland areas owned by the federal government and managed by the United States Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture. Land management of these areas...

 service actually mows the grasses periodically in order to keep the balds free of trees.

Topography


No sub-alpine regions exist between Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

 in Virginia and Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in Massachusetts at . Its peak is located in the northwest corner of the state in the western part of the town of Adams in Berkshire County. Although geologically part of the Taconic Mountains, Mount Greylock is commonly associated with the abutting...

 in Massachusetts, mainly because the trail stays below 3000 feet (914.4 m) from Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

 in Virginia to Mount Greylock. Mount Greylock, however, has a large subalpine region, the only such forest in Massachusetts, extending down to 3000 feet (914.4 m), which in the south would be far from the sub-alpine cutoff. This is especially low because Greylock is exposed to prevailing westerly winds, as the summits along its ridgeline rise approximately 200 feet (61 m) to 650 feet (198.1 m) higher than any other peak in Massachusetts. Further north, several peaks in Vermont reach into the sub-alpine zone, the bottom of which steadily descends as one proceeds northward, so that by the White Mountains
White Mountains (New Hampshire)
The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England...

 in New Hampshire, it often occurs well below 3000 feet (914.4 m). At Mount Moosilauke, which summits at 4802 feet (1,463.6 m), the first alpine
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

 environment on the trail is reached, where only thin, sporadic flora is interspersed with bare rocks. Between the two regions is the krummholz
Krummholz
Krummholz or Krumholtz formation — also called Knieholz — is a particular feature of subarctic and subalpine tree line landscapes. Continual exposure to fierce, freezing winds causes vegetation to become stunted and deformed...

 region, where stunted trees grow with their branches oriented away from the winter's prevailing northwest wind, thus giving the appearance of flags (they are often called "flag trees"). This region resembles lowland terrain hundreds of miles north in Canada. It also contains many endangered and threatened species. The trail has been rerouted over New Hampshire's Presidential Range
Presidential Range
The Presidential Range is a mountain range located in the White Mountains of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Containing the highest peaks of the Whites, its most notable summits are named for American Presidents, followed by prominent public figures of the 18th and 19th centuries.Mt...

 so the Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 can protect certain plant life. The alpine cutoff in the Whites is generally between 4200 feet (1,280.2 m) and 4800 feet (1,463 m). Mountains traversed by the AT above treeline include Mount Moosilauke, several miles along the Franconia Range
Franconia Range
The Franconia Range is a mountain range located in the White Mountains of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. It is the second-highest range of peaks in the White Mountains....

 and along the Presidential Range
Presidential Range
The Presidential Range is a mountain range located in the White Mountains of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Containing the highest peaks of the Whites, its most notable summits are named for American Presidents, followed by prominent public figures of the 18th and 19th centuries.Mt...

. In the Presidentials, the trail climbs as high as 6288 feet (1,916.6 m) on Mount Washington
Mount Washington (New Hampshire)
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at , famous for dangerously erratic weather. For 76 years, a weather observatory on the summit held the record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth's surface, , on the afternoon of April 12, 1934...

 and spends about 13 miles (20.9 km) continuously above treeline, in the largest alpine environment in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

.

In Maine, the trail extends into even harsher environments, and sub-alpine and alpine growth descends to lower elevations. Alpine growth in the state ranges from around 2500 feet (762 m) in the Mahoosuc Range to below 1000 feet (304.8 m) in parts of the Hundred-Mile Wilderness, where nearly every area higher than 1000 feet (304.8 m) is evergreen forest. These forests include more species of evergreen, as well. In addition to the white pine
Eastern White Pine
Pinus strobus, commonly known as the eastern white pine, is a large pine native to eastern North America, occurring from Newfoundland west to Minnesota and southeastern Manitoba, and south along the Appalachian Mountains to the northern edge of Georgia.It is occasionally known as simply white pine,...

, spruce
Spruce
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea , a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical...

 and hemlock
Tsuga
Tsuga is a genus of conifers in the family Pinaceae. The common name hemlock is derived from a perceived similarity in the smell of its crushed foliage to that of the unrelated plant poison hemlock....

 prevalent further south, Maine has many cedar trees along the trail. Near the northern terminus, there are even some tamarack (larch), a coniferous, pine-needled deciduous tree, which provides displays of yellow in the late fall after the birches and maples have gone bare. The hemlocks in Maine are also notable, as the woolly adelgid
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
Hemlock woolly adelgid , commonly abbreviated as HWA, is a true bug native to East Asia that feeds by sucking sap from hemlock trees . In eastern North America, it is a destructive pest that poses a major threat to the eastern hemlock and the Carolina hemlock...

, which has ravaged populations further south, has not come into the state yet, and may be unable to make it so far north due to the cold climate.

Maine also has several alpine regions. In addition to several areas of the Mahoosuc Range, the Baldpates and Old Blue in southern Maine have alpine characteristics despite elevations below 4000 feet (1,219.2 m). Saddleback Mountain
Saddleback Mountain (Rangeley, Maine)
Saddleback Mountain is a mountain located in Rangeley, Franklin County, Maine.Saddleback is one of the highest mountains in the State of Maine, and one of the fourteen with more than of topographic prominence. The mountain is the site of Saddleback ski resort.Saddleback is flanked to the northeast...

 and Mount Bigelow
Mount Bigelow (Maine)
Mount Bigelow is a long mountain ridge with several summits. It is located in Franklin County and Somerset County, Maine. It is one of Maine's highest summits...

, further north, each only extend a bit above 4000 feet (1,219.2 m), but have long alpine areas, with no tree growth on the summits and unobstructed views on clear days. From Mount Bigelow, the trail extends for 150 miles (241.4 km) with only a small area of alpine growth around 3500 feet (1,066.8 m) on the summit of White Cap Mountain
White Cap Mountain (Piscataquis County, Maine)
White Cap Mountain is a mountain located in Piscataquis County, Maine.White Cap Mtn. is flanked to the east by Hay Mountain, to the south by Big Spruce Mountain and to the southeast by Little Spruce Mountain.White Cap Mtn...

. Mount Katahdin, the second largest alpine environment in the eastern United States, has several square miles of alpine area on the flat "table land" summit as well as the cliffs and aretes
Arete
Areté is the term meaning "virtue" or "excellence", from Greek ἈρετήArete may also be used:*as a given name of persons or things:**Queen Arete , a character in Homer's Odyssey.***197 Arete, an asteroid....

 leading up to it. Treeline on Mount Katahdin is only around 3500 feet (1,066.8 m). This elevation in Massachusetts would barely be a sub-alpine region, and, south of Virginia, consists of lowland forest. This illustrates the drastic change in climate over 2000 miles (3,218.7 km).

Despite the alpine environments well below 5000 feet (1,524 m) in New Hampshire and Maine, some higher places further south are not alpine. Examples include Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald is a high-altitude treeless open area in Nantahala National Forest, near Franklin, North Carolina. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area's highest point ; the stone observation tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 for fire detection.The...

 in North Carolina 5342 feet (1,628.2 m) and Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an elevation of , it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail...

 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North...

 6643 feet (2,024.8 m).

Hiking the trail


As the Appalachian Trail was explicitly designed to be hiked, it includes resources to facilitate hikers. Some are common to trails throughout North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, while some are unique to the Appalachian Trail. The trail is much more frequently hiked south to north (i.e. Georgia to Maine) than vice versa. Hikers typically begin in March or April and finish in late summer or early to late fall of that particular year (or, in the case of southbound hikers, June to March).

Navigation


Throughout its length, the AT is marked by 2-by-6-inch (5-by-15-cm) white paint blazes
Trail blazing
Trail blazing, or trailblazing, is the practice of marking paths in outdoor recreational areas with blazes, markings that follow each other at certain — though not necessarily exactly defined — distances and mark the direction of the trail...

. Side trails to shelters, viewpoints and parking areas use similarly shaped blue blazes. In past years, some sections of the trail also used metal diamond markers with the AT logo, few of which survive.

Lodging and camping


The trail has more than 250 shelters and campsites available for hikers. The shelters, sometimes called lean-tos (in Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut), huts (in Shenandoah National Park) or Adirondack shelters, are generally open, three-walled structures with a wooden floor, although some shelters are much more complex in structure. Shelters are usually spaced a day's hike or less apart, most often near a water source (which may be dry) and with a privy
Outhouse
An outhouse is a small structure separate from a main building which often contained a simple toilet and may possibly also be used for housing animals and storage.- Terminology :...

. They generally have spaces for tent sites in the vicinity. The Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 (AMC) operates a system of eight huts
High Huts of the White Mountains
The High Huts of the White Mountains are a series of eight mountain huts in the White Mountains, in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, owned and maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Modeled after similar huts in the Alps, they are positioned at intervals along the Appalachian Trail, allowing...

 along 56 miles (90.1 km) of New Hampshire's White Mountains. These huts are significantly larger than standard trail shelters and offer full-service lodging and meals during the summer months. The Fontana Dam Shelter in North Carolina, is more commonly referred to as the Fontana Hilton because of amenities (e.g. flush toilets) and its proximity to an all-you-can-eat buffet and post office. Several AMC huts have an extended self-service season during the fall, with two extending self-service seasons through the winter and spring. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, or ', is a volunteer organization that works to maintain hiking trails in the Washington D.C. area...

 maintains trail cabins, shelters, and huts throughout the Shenandoah region
Shenandoah Valley AVA
The Shenandoah Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginia. The valley is bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Appalachian and Allegheny Plateaus to the west. Most of the AVA is in Virignia, with a small portion in...

 of Virginia.

Shelters are generally maintained by local volunteers. Almost all shelters have one or more pre-hung food hangers (generally consisting of a short nylon cord with an upside-down tuna can suspended halfway down its length) where hikers can hang their food bags to keep them out of the reach of rodents. In hiker lingo, these are sometimes called "mouse trapezes."

In addition to official shelters, many people offer their homes, places of business, or inns to accommodate AT hikers. One example is the Little Lyford Pond camps
Little Lyford Pond camps
-Early history:The camps were opened in 1874, bordering the West Branch of the Pleasant River in northern Maine in the United States. They included a maine lodge and 13 cabins as well as satellite camps for housing loggers. The camps are a 2.2 mile hike from Gulf Hagas and a 5.2 mile hike from the...

 maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

. Inns are more common in sections of the trail that coincide with national parks, most notably Virginia's Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

.

Trail towns



The trail crosses many roads, thus providing ample opportunity for hikers to hitchhike into town for food and other supplies. Many trail towns are accustomed to hikers passing through, and thus many have hotel
Hotel
A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. The provision of basic accommodation, in times past, consisting only of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with modern facilities, including en-suite bathrooms...

s and hiker-oriented accommodations. Some of the most well-known trail towns are Hot Springs, North Carolina
Hot Springs, North Carolina
Hot Springs is a town in Madison County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 645 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Hot Springs is located at ....

; Erwin, Tennessee
Erwin, Tennessee
Erwin is a town in and the county seat of Unicoi County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 5,610 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area...

; Damascus, Virginia
Damascus, Virginia
Damascus is a town in Washington County, Virginia, United States. The population was 981 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Kingsport–Bristol –Bristol Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical...

; Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States. In many books the town is called "Harper's Ferry" with an apostrophe....

; Duncannon, Pennsylvania
Duncannon, Pennsylvania
Duncannon is a borough in Perry County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1,508 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area. The center of population of Pennsylvania is located in Duncannon. It is named after the coastal town of...

; Port Clinton, Pennsylvania
Port Clinton, Pennsylvania
Port Clinton is a borough in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 288 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Port Clinton is located at ....

; Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover is a town along the Connecticut River in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 11,260 at the 2010 census. CNN and Money magazine rated Hanover the sixth best place to live in America in 2011, and the second best in 2007....

; and Monson, Maine
Monson, Maine
Monson is a town in Piscataquis County, Maine, United States. As of the 2000 census, the town had a population of 666. The town is located on Route 15 which is a somewhat major route north to the well known Moosehead Lake Region, to which Monson is sometimes considered a gateway...

. In the areas of the trail closer to trail towns, many hikers have experienced what is sometimes called "trail magic," or assistance from strangers through kind actions, gifts, and other forms of encouragement. Trail magic is sometimes done anonymously. In other instances, persons have provided food and cooked for hikers at a campsite.

Hazards


The Appalachian Trail is relatively safe. Most injuries or incidents are consistent with comparable outdoor activities. Most hazards are related to weather conditions, human error, plants, animals, diseases, and fellow humans encountered along the trail.

Many animals live around the trail, with bears, snakes, and wild boars posing the greatest threat to human safety. Several rodent- and bug-borne illnesses are also a potential hazard. In scattered instances, fox
Fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

es, raccoon
Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

s, and other small animals may bite hikers, posing risk of rabies
Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic , most commonly by a bite from an infected animal. For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms...

 and other diseases. There has been one reported case (in 1993) of hantavirus
Hantavirus
Hantaviruses are negative sense RNA viruses in the Bunyaviridae family. Humans may be infected with hantaviruses through rodent bites, urine, saliva or contact with rodent waste products...

 (HPS), a rare but dangerous rodent-borne disease affecting the lungs. The afflicted hiker recovered and hiked the trail the following year.

The section of the trail that runs through the Mid-Atlantic and New England states have a very high population of Deer Ticks carrying Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, and represents the highest density of reported Lyme Disease in the country. Hikers should understand the risks, and take appropriate precautions.

Plant life can create its own brand of problems. Poison ivy
Poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans, better known as poison ivy , is a poisonous North American plant that is well known for its production of urushiol, a clear liquid compound found within the sap of the plant that causes an itching rash in most people who touch it...

 is common the length of the trail, and more plentiful in the South.

Hiking season of the trail generally starts in mid to late spring, when conditions are much more favorable in the South. However, this time may also be characterized by extreme heat, sometimes in excess of 100 °F (37.8 °C). Under such conditions, hydration is imperative. Light clothing and sunscreens are a must at high elevations and areas without foliage, even in relatively cool weather.

Further north and at higher elevations, the weather can be intensely cold, characterized by low temperatures, strong winds, hail or snow storms and reduced visibility. Prolonged rain, though not typically life-threatening, can undermine stamina and ruin supplies.

Violent crime
Violent crime
A violent crime or crime of violence is a crime in which the offender uses or threatens to use violent force upon the victim. This entails both crimes in which the violent act is the objective, such as murder, as well as crimes in which violence is the means to an end, such as robbery. Violent...

, including murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

, has occurred on the trail in a few instances. Most have been crimes by non-hikers who crossed paths relatively randomly with the AT hiker-victims. The official website of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy points out that the number of violent crimes is extremely low when compared against the number of people (3 to 4 million) who hike on the trail every year.

The first reported homicide on the trail was in 1974 in Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. In 1981, the issue of violence on the Appalachian Trail received national attention when Robert Mountford Jr. and Laura Susan Ramsay, both social workers in Ellsworth, Maine
Ellsworth, Maine
Ellsworth is a city in and the county seat of Hancock County, Maine, United States. The 2010 Census determined it had a population of 7,741. Ellsworth was Maine's fastest growing city from 2000-2010 with a growth rate of nearly 20 percent...

, were murdered by Randall Lee Smith
Randall Lee Smith
Randall Lee Smith was a convicted murderer from Pearisburg, Virginia. He pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Robert Mountford Jr. and Laura Susan Ramsay, who were killed while hiking the Appalachian Trail, in May 1981...

. Another homicide occurred in May 1996, when two women were abducted, bound and murdered near the trail in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

. The primary suspect was later discovered harassing a female bicycler in the vicinity, but charges against him were dropped, and the case remains unsolved.

Trail completion


Trail hikers who attempt to complete the entire trail in a single season are called "thru-hikers"; those who traverse the trail during a series of separate trips are known as "section-hikers". Rugged terrain, weather extremes, freedom from illness or injury, and the desire to commit the time and effort required make thru-hiking difficult to accomplish.

Traditionally, only about 10% to 15% of those who make the attempt report to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy that they completed it. However, since 2001, the number of people starting out in Georgia to do a thru-hike (or at least registering to do so) has dropped considerably, yet the number of people reporting that they have completed a thru-hike has remained approximately the same. This has resulted in an apparent increase in the completion rate to 29% (as of 2006).

A thru-hike generally requires five to seven months, although some have done it in three months, and several trail runners have completed the trail in less time. Trail runners
Trail running
Trail running is a variant on running that differs markedly from road running and track running. Trail running generally takes place on hiking trails, most commonly single track trails, although fire roads are not uncommon. A distinguishing characteristic of the trails is that they are often...

 typically tackle the AT with automobile support teams, without backpacks, and without camping in the woods.

The current speed record for thru-hiking the AT was set by Jennifer Pharr Davis
Jennifer Pharr Davis
Jennifer Pharr Davis is an American long distance hiker. She currently holds the unofficial record for the fastest thru hike of the Appalachian Trail with a time of 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, set on July 31, 2011....

 in 2011, at 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. Pharr Davis made the trip southbound, from mid June to late July.

Thru-hikers are classified into many informal groups. "Purists" are hikers who stick to the official AT trail, follow the white blazes, except for side trips to shelters and camp sites. "Blue Blazers" cut miles from the full route by taking side trails marked by blue blazes. The generally pejorative name "Yellow Blazers," a reference to yellow road stripes, is given to those who hitchhike to move down the trail. There are also those who hike the entire trail in sections known as "section hikers" as opposed to those who hike the whole trail as one course.

Most thru-hikers walk northward from Georgia to Maine, and generally start out in early spring and follow the warm weather as it moves north. These "north-bounders" are also called NOBO (NOrthBOund) or GAME (Georgia(GA)-to-Maine(ME)), while those heading in the opposite direction are termed "south-bounders" (also SOBO or MEGA).

Part of hiker subculture includes making colorful entries in logbooks at trail shelters, signed using pseudonyms called trail names
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy gives the name "2000 Miler" to anyone who completes the entire trail. The ATC's recognition policy for "2000 Milers" gives equal recognition to thru-hikers and section-hikers, operates on the honor system, and recognizes blue-blazed trails or officially required roadwalks as substitutes for the official, white-blazed route during an emergency such as a flood, forest fire, or impending storm on an exposed, high-elevation stretch. As of 2010, more than 11,000 people had reported completing the entire trail. About three-quarters of these are thru-hikers.

The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail
Continental Divide Trail
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico...

 and the Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance mountain hiking and equestrian trail on the Western Seaboard of the United States. The southern terminus is at the California border with Mexico...

 form what is known as the Triple Crown
Triple Crown of Hiking
The Triple Crown of Hiking informally refers to the three major U.S. long distance hiking trails:* Pacific Crest Trail - long, Washington, Oregon, and California between Mexico and Canada following the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range....

 of long distance hiking in the United States. In 2001, Brian Robinson
Brian Robinson (hiker)
Brian Robinson is the first to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail in one year, a feat that means he hiked a total of over 7,000 miles....

 became the first one to complete all three trails in a year.

Route


The trail is currently protected along more than 99% of its course by federal or state ownership of the land or by right-of-way
Easement
An easement is a certain right to use the real property of another without possessing it.Easements are helpful for providing pathways across two or more pieces of property or allowing an individual to fish in a privately owned pond...

. The trail is maintained by a variety of citizen organizations, environmental advocacy groups, governmental agencies and individuals. Annually, more than 4,000 volunteers contribute over 175,000 hours of effort on the Appalachian Trail, an effort coordinated largely by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

 (ATC) organization. In total, the AT passes through eight national forests and two national parks.

In the course of its journey, the trail follows the ridgeline of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

, crossing many of its highest peaks, and running, with only a few exceptions, almost continuously through wilderness
Wilderness
Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...

. The trail used to traverse many hundreds of miles of private property; currently 99% of the trail is on public land.

Georgia


Georgia has 75 miles (120 km) of the trail, including the southern terminus at Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County of northern Georgia. It is now the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.-Geography:The mountain's peak is at above mean sea level.-Appalachian Trail:...

 at an elevation of 3,280 feet (992 m). At 4,461 feet (1360 m), Blood Mountain
Blood Mountain
Blood Mountain is the highest peak on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail and the sixth-tallest mountain in Georgia, with an elevation of . It is located on the border of Lumpkin County with Union County and is within the boundaries of the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Blood...

 is the highest point on the trail in Georgia. The AT and approach trail, along with many miles of blue blazed side trails, are managed and maintained by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club
Georgia Appalachian Trail Club
The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was organized in 1930 in Dahlonega, GA. Its membership consists of individual volunteers who share a love for the Appalachian Trail ....

. See also: Georgia Peaks on the Appalachian Trail.

North Carolina


North Carolina has 88 miles (142 km) of the trail, not including more than 200 miles (325 km) along the Tennessee Border. Altitude ranges from 1,725 to 5,498 feet (525 m to 1676 m). The trail enters from Georgia at Bly Gap, ascending peaks such as Standing Indian Mountain
Standing Indian Mountain
Standing Indian Mountain, elevation 5,499 feet, is part of the North Carolina portion of the Southern Nantahala Wilderness within the boundaries of the Nantahala National Forest...

, Mt. Albert
Mount Albert (North Carolina)
Mount Albert is a mountain in North Carolina's Nantahala Range of the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Trail goes along its summit, which is high. A fire tower offers views of the Blue Ridge and the Little Tennessee River valley....

, and Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald is a high-altitude treeless open area in Nantahala National Forest, near Franklin, North Carolina. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area's highest point ; the stone observation tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 for fire detection.The...

. It then goes by Nantahala Outdoor Center
Nantahala Outdoor Center
The Nantahala Outdoor Center is a commercial outdoor guide service and retail store. It opened in 1972 when Payson and Aurelia Kennedy and Horace Holden Sr. took over the old Tote 'N Tarry Motel. NOC is based in western North Carolina near Bryson City, near the Great Smoky Mountains on the...

 at the Nantahala River Gorge and the Nantahala River
Nantahala River
The Nantahala River is a river in western North Carolina in the United States, within the Nantahala National Forest, and near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Two-lane U.S...

 crossing. Up to this point, the trail is maintained by the Nantahala Hiking Club. Beyond this point, it is maintained by the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club. 30 miles (48.3 km) further north, Fontana Dam
Fontana Dam
Fontana Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Little Tennessee River in Swain and Graham counties, North Carolina, USA. The dam is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which built the dam in the early 1940s to accommodate the skyrocketing electricity demands in the Tennessee Valley at the...

 marks the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North...

.

Tennessee


Tennessee has 71 miles (114 km) of the trail, not including more than 200 miles (325 km) along or near the North Carolina Border. The section that runs just below the summit of Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an elevation of , it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail...

 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North...

 is along the North Carolina and Tennessee border and is the highest point on the trail at 6,643 feet (2019 m). The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club (Knoxville, TN) maintains the trail throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Davenport Gap. North of Davenport Gap, the Carolina Mountain Club (Asheville, NC) maintains the trail to Spivey Gap. Then the remaining Tennessee section is maintained by the Tennessee Eastman Hiking & Canoeing Club (Kingsport, TN).

Virginia


Virginia has 550 miles (885 km) of the trail, including about 20 miles (32 km) along the West Virginia border. With the climate, and the timing of northbound hikers, this section is wet and challenging because of the spring thaw and heavy spring rainfall. Substantial portions closely parallel the Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. It runs for 469 miles , mostly along the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains...

 and, in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

, the Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive is a 105-mile road that runs the entire length of the National Park Service's Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, generally along the ridge of the mountains. The scenic drive is particularly popular in the fall when the leaves are changing colors...

. Parts of the trail near the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive are often considered the best for beginner hikers. In the southwestern portion of the state, the trail goes within one half mile of the highest point in Virginia, Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

, which is a short side-hike from the AT.

West Virginia


West Virginia has 4 miles (6 km) of the trail, not including about 20 miles (32 km) along the Virginia border. Here the trail passes through the town of Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States. In many books the town is called "Harper's Ferry" with an apostrophe....

, headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

. Harpers Ferry is considered the "psychological midpoint" of the AT.

Maryland


Maryland has 41 miles (66 km) of the trail, with elevations ranging from 230 to 1,880 feet (70–570 m). Hikers are required to stay at designated shelters and campsites. The trail runs along the C&O Canal Towpath
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, abbreviated as the C&O Canal, and occasionally referred to as the "Grand Old Ditch," operated from 1831 until 1924 parallel to the Potomac River in Maryland from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. The total length of the canal is about . The elevation change of...

 route for 3 miles (4.8 km).

Pennsylvania


Pennsylvania has 229 miles (369 km) of the trail. The trail extends from the Pennsylvania - Maryland line at Pen Mar, a tiny town straddling the state line, to the Delaware Water Gap
Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware Water Gap is on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains...

, at the Pennsylvania - New Jersey border. The Susquehanna River
Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River is a river located in the northeastern United States. At long, it is the longest river on the American east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and with its watershed it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United...

 is generally considered the dividing line between the northern and southern sections of the Pennsylvania AT, and Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a protected Pennsylvania area that includes Laurel and Fuller lakes in Cooke Township. The park provides various outdoor recreation activities, has the remains of the Pine Grove Iron Works, and was the site of the 1830 Laurel Forge, 1880s Pine Grove Park, and an...

 the halfway point of the entire AT.

The AT passes through St. Anthony's Wilderness, which is the second largest roadless area in Pennsylvania and home to several coal mining ghost town
Ghost town
A ghost town is an abandoned town or city. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or nuclear disasters...

s, such as Yellow Springs
Yellow Springs, Pennsylvania
Yellow Springs is a historic village and ghost town in West Pikeland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States, between Phoenixville and Downingtown. The community includes historic churches, established in the 1770s by German Reformed and Lutheran members. The village is located on a...

 and Rausch Gap
Rausch Gap, Pennsylvania
The ghost town of Rausch Gap was the largest of several coal mining towns in St. Anthony's Wilderness that appeared, flourished, and died during the period between 1830 and 1910...

.


New Jersey


New Jersey is home to 72 miles (116 km) of the trail. The trail enters New Jersey from the south on a pedestrian walkway along the Interstate 80
Interstate 80
Interstate 80 is the second-longest Interstate Highway in the United States, following Interstate 90. It is a transcontinental artery running from downtown San Francisco, California to Teaneck, New Jersey in the New York City Metropolitan Area...

 bridge over the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

, ascends from the Delaware Water Gap
Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware Water Gap is on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains...

 to the top of Kittatinny Ridge in Worthington State Forest
Worthington State Forest
The 6,421 acre Worthington State Forest runs more than seven miles along the Kittatinny Ridge in Columbia, in Warren County, on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, just north of the Delaware Water Gap in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The park offers hiking, camping and...

, passes Sunfish Pond
Sunfish Pond
Sunfish Pond is a glacial lake surrounded by a hardwood forest located on the Kittatinny Ridge within Worthington State Forest, adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Warren County, New Jersey. The Appalachian Trail runs alongside the western and northern edges of the...

 (right), continues through Stokes State Forest
Stokes State Forest
Stokes State Forest is a state park located in Sandyston Township, Montague and Frankford Twp. in Sussex County, New Jersey, United States. Stokes comprises of mountainous woods...

 and eventually reaches High Point State Park, the highest peak in New Jersey (a side trail is required to reach the actual peak). It then turns in a southeastern direction along the New York border for about 30 miles (48 km), passing over long sections of boardwalk bridges over marshy land, then entering Wawayanda State Park
Wawayanda State Park
Wawayanda State Park is a 34,350 acre state park in Sussex County and Passaic County in northern New Jersey. The park is in Vernon Township on the Sussex side, and West Milford on the Passaic side. There are 60 miles of hiking trails in the park, including a 20-mile stretch of the Appalachian...

 and then the Abram S. Hewitt State Forest
Abram S. Hewitt State Forest
Abram S. Hewitt State Forest is a state forest by Hewitt in northwestern New Jersey that is . It is on the Bearfort Ridge of unusual conglomerate between Greenwood Lake and Upper Greenwood Lake. It has a number of overlooks and colorful bedrock. It is accessible only on foot, with trails...

 just before entering New York near Greenwood Lake
Greenwood Lake, New York
Greenwood Lake is a village in Orange County, New York, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the village population was 3,411. It is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New...

.

Black bear activity along the trail in New Jersey increased rapidly starting in 2001. Hence, metal bear-proof trash boxes are in place at all New Jersey shelters.


New York


New York's 88 miles (142 km) of trail contain very little elevation change compared to other states. From south to north, the trail summits many small mountains under 1,400 feet (430 m) in elevation, its highest point in New York being Prospect Rock at 1,433 feet (438 m), and only 3,000 feet (800 m) from the border with New Jersey. The trail continues north, climbing near Fitzgerald Falls, passing through Sterling Forest, and then entering Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park is located on the west side of the Hudson River in Orange and Rockland counties of New York. The park offers biking, hiking, boating, picnicking, swimming, cross-country skiing, cross-country running, sledding and ice skating...

. It crosses the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 on the Bear Mountain Bridge
Bear Mountain Bridge
The Bear Mountain Bridge is a toll suspension bridge in New York State, carrying U.S. Highways 202 and 6 across the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester counties...

, the lowest point on the entire Appalachian Trail at 124 feet (38 m). It then passes through Fahnestock State Park
Clarence Fahnestock State Park
Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park a 14,086 acre New York state park, in Putnam and Dutchess counties. The park has hiking trails, an environmental center, a beach on Canopus Lake, and fishing on four ponds and two lakes...

, and continues northeast and crosses the Metro-North Railroad
Metro-North Railroad
The Metro-North Commuter Railroad , trading as MTA Metro-North Railroad, or, more commonly, Metro-North, is a suburban commuter rail service that is run and managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority , an authority of New York State. It is the busiest commuter railroad in the United...

's Harlem Line. This track crossing is the site of the only train station
Appalachian Trail (Metro-North station)
The Appalachian Trail Metro-North Railroad station serves campers and hikers destined for the Appalachian Trail in Dutchess County, New York via the Harlem Line. Trains stop at Appalachian Trail on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays only. It is the only train station along the 2,175 mile length of...

 along the trail's length. It enters Connecticut via the Pawling Nature Reserve. The section of the trail that passes through Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks is the oldest section of the trail, completed in 1923. A portion of this section was paved by 700 volunteers with 800 granite-slab steps followed by over a mile of walkway supported by stone crib walls with boulders lining the path. The project took four years, cost roughly $1 million, and was officially opened in June 2010.

Connecticut


Connecticut's 52 miles (84 km) of trail lie almost entirely along the ridge
Ridge
A ridge is a geological feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous elevated crest for some distance. Ridges are usually termed hills or mountains as well, depending on size. There are several main types of ridges:...

s to the west above the Housatonic River
Housatonic River
The Housatonic River is a river, approximately long, in western Massachusetts and western Connecticut in the United States. It flows south to southeast, and drains about of southwestern New England into Long Island Sound...

 valley.

The state line is also the western boundary of a 480 acre (190 ha) Connecticut reservation
Indian reservation
An American Indian reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs...

 inhabited by Schaghticoke Indians
Schaghticoke (tribe)
The Schaghticoke are a Native American tribe of the Eastern Woodlands consisting of descendants of Mahican , Potatuck , Weantinock, Tunxis, Podunk, and other people indigenous to what is now Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. They amalgamated after encroachment of white settlers on their...

. Inside it, the AT roughly parallels its northern boundary, crossing back outside it after 2,000 feet (640 m). The trail proceeds northward through the Housatonic River valley and hills to its west, veering northwesterly and, at Salisbury, ascending the southern Taconic mountains, at Lion's Head affording a view northeasterly towards Mt. Greylock and other points in Massachusetts, and at Bear Mountain, reaching over 2000 feet (609.6 m) in elevation for the first time since Pennsylvania and yielding views across the Hudson River valley to the Catskills and across the broad expanse of the Housatonic valley and the Berkshire and Litchfield Hills to the east. Just north of Bear, the trail, as it crosses into Massachusetts, descends into Sages Ravine, a deep gorge in the eastern Taconic ridgeline which is home to a fragile old growth forest. As the trail crosses the brook in the ravine, it leaves the area maintained by the Connecticut section of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Massachusetts


Massachusetts has 90 miles (145 km) of trail. The entire section of trail is in western Massachusetts' Berkshire County. It summits the highest peak in the southern Taconic Range
Taconic Mountains
The Taconic Mountains or Taconic Range are a physiographic section of the larger New England province and part of the Appalachian Mountains, running along the eastern border of New York State and adjacent New England from northwest Connecticut to western Massachusetts, north to central western...

, Mount Everett
Mount Everett
Mount Everett at 2,624 ft - or 800 m - is the highest peak in the south Taconic Mountains of Massachusetts. The mountain is known for its expansive views of the southern Taconics and Berkshires; for its fragile ecosystem of old growth pitch pine and scrub oak; and for its rare plant and animal...

 (2,602 ft., 793 m), then descends to the Housatonic River valley and skirts the town of Great Barrington
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Great Barrington is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,104 at the 2010 census. Both a summer resort and home to Ski Butternut, Great Barrington includes the villages of Van...

. The trail passes through the towns of Dalton
Dalton, Massachusetts
Dalton is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. Dalton is the transition town between the urban and rural pieces of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 6,892 at the 2000 census.- History...

 and Cheshire
Cheshire, Massachusetts
Cheshire is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,401 at the 2000 census.-History:...

, and summits the highest point in the state at 3,491 feet (1,064 m), Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in Massachusetts at . Its peak is located in the northwest corner of the state in the western part of the town of Adams in Berkshire County. Although geologically part of the Taconic Mountains, Mount Greylock is commonly associated with the abutting...

. It then quickly descends to the valley within 2 miles (3 km) of North Adams
North Adams, Massachusetts
North Adams is a city in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 13,708 as of the 2010 census, making it the least populous city in the state...

 and Williamstown
Williamstown, Massachusetts
Williamstown is a town in Berkshire County, in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. It shares a border with Vermont to the north and New York to the west. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,754 at the 2010 census...

, before ascending again to the Vermont state line. The trail throughout Massachusetts is maintained by the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Vermont


Vermont has 150 miles (241 km) of the trail. Upon entering Vermont, the trail coincides with the southernmost sections of the generally north/south-oriented Long Trail
Long Trail
The Long Trail is a hiking trail located in Vermont, running the length of the state. It is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States, constructed between 1910 and 1930 by the Green Mountain Club...

 (which is subject to a request by its maintainers to protect it in its most vulnerable part of the year by forgoing spring hiking). It follows the ridge of the southern Green Mountains, summitting such notable peaks as Stratton Mountain
Stratton Mountain (Vermont)
Stratton Mountain is a mountain located in Windham County, Vermont, in the Green Mountain National Forest.The mountain, a monadnock, is the highest point of Windham County, and of the southern Green Mountains generally. A fire tower located on the summit is generally open for climbing by the public...

, Glastenbury Mountain
Glastenbury Mountain
Glastenbury Mountain is a mountain located in Bennington County, Vermont, in the Green Mountain National Forest.The mountain is part of the Green Mountains....

 and Killington Peak
Killington Peak
Killington Peak is the second highest summit in the Green Mountains and in the U.S. state of Vermont. It is located east of Rutland in south-central Vermont. A ski resort, Killington Ski Resort, nicknamed "the beast of the east," is located on the mountain. Killington is a stop on the Long...

. After parting ways with the Long Trail at Maine Junction, the AT turns in a more eastward direction, crossing the White River
White River (Vermont)
The White River is a river in the U.S. state of Vermont. It is a tributary of the Connecticut River.The White River rises at Skylight Pond south of Bread Loaf Mountain near the crest of the Green Mountains. The river flows east to the town of Granville, where it receives the outflow from the...

, passing through Norwich
Norwich, Vermont
Norwich is a town in Windsor County, Vermont, United States, located along the Connecticut River opposite Hanover, New Hampshire. The population was 3,544 at the 2000 census....

, and entering Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover is a town along the Connecticut River in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 11,260 at the 2010 census. CNN and Money magazine rated Hanover the sixth best place to live in America in 2011, and the second best in 2007....

, as it crosses the Connecticut River
Connecticut River
The Connecticut River is the largest and longest river in New England, and also an American Heritage River. It flows roughly south, starting from the Fourth Connecticut Lake in New Hampshire. After flowing through the remaining Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis, it defines the border between the...

. The Green Mountain Club
Green Mountain Club
The Green Mountain Club is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving and protecting Vermont's Long Trail - America's first long-distance hiking trail which stretches from Massachusetts to the Canadian border along Vermont's high ridgeline...

 maintains the AT from the Massachusetts state border to Route 12
Route 12 (New England)
New England Route 12 was a multi-state north–south state highway in the New England region of the United States, running from Groton, Connecticut, through Worcester, Massachusetts, and Keene, New Hampshire, to Morrisville, Vermont. Its number dates from 1922, when it was a New England...

. The Dartmouth Outing Club
Dartmouth Outing Club
The Dartmouth Outing Club is the oldest and largest collegiate outing club in the United States. Proposed in 1909 by Dartmouth College student Fred Harris to "stimulate interest in out-of-door winter sports", the club soon grew to encompass the College's year-round outdoor recreation and has had...

 maintains the trail from VT Route 12 Woodstock to the New Hampshire state line.

New Hampshire



New Hampshire has 161 miles (259 km) of the trail. The New Hampshire AT is nearly all within the White Mountain National Forest
White Mountain National Forest
The White Mountain National Forest is a federally-managed forest contained within the White Mountains in the northeastern United States. It was established in 1918 as a result of the Weeks Act of 1911; federal acquisition of land had already begun in 1914. It has a total area of...

. For northbound thru-hikers, it is the beginning of the main challenges that go beyond enduring distance and time: in New Hampshire and Maine, rough or steep ground are more frequent and alpine
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

 conditions are found near summits and along ridges. The trail reaches 17 of the 48 four-thousand footers
Four-thousand footers
The term Four-Thousand Footers refers to a group of forty-eight mountains in New Hampshire at least 4,000 feet above sea level...

 of New Hampshire, including 6,288' Mount Washington
Mount Washington (New Hampshire)
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at , famous for dangerously erratic weather. For 76 years, a weather observatory on the summit held the record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth's surface, , on the afternoon of April 12, 1934...

, the highest point of the AT north of Tennessee. The Dartmouth Outing Club maintains the AT from the Vermont border past Mount Moosilauke to Kinsman Notch
Kinsman Notch
Kinsman Notch is a mountain pass located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, United States. It is the westernmost of the major notches through the White Mountains...

, Woodstock New Hampshire, with the AMC
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 maintaining the remaining miles through the state.

Maine



Maine has 281 miles (452 km) of the trail. More moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

 are seen by hikers in this state than any other on the trail. The northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is on Mount Katahdin's Baxter Peak in Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is a large wilderness area permanently preserved as a state park, located in Piscataquis County in north-central Maine. The Park was established by 28 donations of land, in Trust, from Park donor Percival P. Baxter between the years of 1931 and 1962, eventually creating a Park of...

.

In some parts of the trail in Maine, such as the Mahoosuc Notch, even the strongest hikers may only average 1 mph. There are other parts in which hikers must hold on to tree limbs and roots to climb and descend, which are especially dangerous and hazardous in wet weather conditions.

The western section includes a mile-long (1.6 km) stretch of boulders, some of which hikers must pass under, at Mahoosuc Notch
Mahoosuc Notch
Mahoosuc Notch is a deep gap in the Mahoosuc Range of western Maine, traversed by the Appalachian Trail. The boulders on this mile-long section of trail present obstacles that must be climbed over and sometimes under, creating a unique hiking experience...

, often called the trail's hardest mile. Also, although there are dozens of river and stream fords on the Maine section of the trail, the Kennebec River
Kennebec River
The Kennebec River is a river that is entirely within the U.S. state of Maine. It rises in Moosehead Lake in west-central Maine. The East and West Outlets join at Indian Pond and the river then flows southward...

 is the only one on the trail that requires a boat crossing. The most isolated portion of the Appalachian Trail, known as the "Hundred-Mile Wilderness", also occurs in Maine. It heads east-northeast from the town of Monson
Monson, Maine
Monson is a town in Piscataquis County, Maine, United States. As of the 2000 census, the town had a population of 666. The town is located on Route 15 which is a somewhat major route north to the well known Moosehead Lake Region, to which Monson is sometimes considered a gateway...

 and ends outside Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is a large wilderness area permanently preserved as a state park, located in Piscataquis County in north-central Maine. The Park was established by 28 donations of land, in Trust, from Park donor Percival P. Baxter between the years of 1931 and 1962, eventually creating a Park of...

 just south of Abol Bridge.

Park management strongly discourages thru-hiking within the park before May 15 or after October 15.

The AMC
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 maintains the AT from the New Hampshire border to Grafton Notch
Grafton Notch
Grafton Notch is a notch, or mountain pass, located in Oxford County, Maine.The notch demarks the northeastern end the Mahoosuc Range, and thus of the White Mountains....

, with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club responsible for maintaining the remaining miles to Mt. Katahdin.

Use in research


The Appalachian Trail has been a resource for researchers in a variety of disciplines. Portions of the trail in Tennessee were used on a study on trail maintenance for the Trail's "uniform environmental conditions and design attributes and substantial gradient in visitor use." Beginning in 2007, various citizen groups, including the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the American Hiking Society
American Hiking Society
The American Hiking Society is a Maryland-based non-profit dedicated to preserving trails, the areas that surround them and the hiking experience itself. It was co-founded in 1976 by Bill Kemsley, the founding editor of Backpacker...

, began a study to monitor environmental changes that have resulted from higher ozone levels, acid rain
Acid rain
Acid rain is a rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, meaning that it possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions . It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure. Acid rain is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen...

, smog
Smog
Smog is a type of air pollution; the word "smog" is a portmanteau of smoke and fog. Modern smog is a type of air pollution derived from vehicular emission from internal combustion engines and industrial fumes that react in the atmosphere with sunlight to form secondary pollutants that also combine...

, and other air quality factors. Such research has been supported by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

, the National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

, and Aveda Corporation.

Behavioral studies have also been conducted on hikers themselves. A 2007 study on hikers found that most persons hike the trail "for fun and enjoyment of life and for warm relationships with others" and that "that environmental awareness, physical challenge, camaraderie, exercise, and solitude" were chief results among hikers. Since the highest single demographic of thru-hikers are males between the ages of 18-29, one informal study sought to find the correlation between this group and male college drop-outs.

See also

  • Appalachian Development Highway System
    Appalachian Development Highway System
    The Appalachian Development Highway System is part of the Appalachian Regional Commission in the United States. See: .-History:...

     (ADHS) (in the eastern US)
  • Appalachian Trail by state
    Appalachian Trail by state
    The Appalachian National Scenic Trail spans fourteen U.S. states during its journey that is long, including Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine...

  • International Appalachian Trail
    International Appalachian Trail
    The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...


Additional U.S. long distance trails
  • Pacific Crest Trail
    Pacific Crest Trail
    The Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance mountain hiking and equestrian trail on the Western Seaboard of the United States. The southern terminus is at the California border with Mexico...

  • Continental Divide Trail
    Continental Divide Trail
    The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico...

  • North Country Trail
    North Country Trail
    The North Country National Scenic Trail , which stretches approximately from Crown Point in eastern New York to Lake Sakakawea in central North Dakota in the United States, is the longest of the eleven National Scenic Trails authorized by Congress...


Connected U.S. long distance trails
  • Allegheny Trail
    Allegheny Trail
    The Allegheny Trail is a hiking trail that passes through the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia, USA. It is the longest named trail in the state ....

  • Benton MacKaye Trail
    Benton MacKaye Trail
    The Benton MacKaye Trail or BMT is a footpath nearly in length in the Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States and is blazed by a white diamond, 5" across by 7" tall...

  • Horse Shoe Trail
    Horse Shoe Trail
    The Horse Shoe Trail is a trail that runs from the western edge of Valley Forge National Historical Park westward toward Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where it ends at the Appalachian Trail....

  • International Appalachian Trail
    International Appalachian Trail
    The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...

  • Long Trail
    Long Trail
    The Long Trail is a hiking trail located in Vermont, running the length of the state. It is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States, constructed between 1910 and 1930 by the Green Mountain Club...

  • Mason-Dixon Trail
    Mason-Dixon Trail
    The Mason Dixon Trail connects the Appalachian Trail with the Brandywine Trail, passing through Gifford Pinchot State Park and White Clay Creek Preserve in Pennsylvania and White Clay Creek State Park in Delaware.-External links:*...

  • Mountains-to-Sea Trail
    Mountains-to-Sea Trail
    The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a long-distance trail, for hiking and backpacking, that runs across North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. The trail's western endpoint is at Clingman's Dome, where it connects to the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National...

  • Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
    Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
    The Pinhoti Trail is a long-distance trail, long, locate in the United States within in the states Alabama and Georgia. The trail's southern terminus is on Flagg Mountain which is located near Weogufka, Alabama...

  • Virginia Creeper Trail
    Virginia Creeper Trail
    The Virginia Creeper Trail is a multi-purpose rail trail in southwestern Virginia. The trail runs from Abingdon to Whitetop, Virginia, near the North Carolina state line – through National Forest and crossing numerous restored trestles and crossing the Appalachian Trail.The trail descends...


Connected National Historic Trail
National Historic Trail
National Historic Trail is a designation for a protected area in the United States containing historic trails and surrounding areas. They are part of the National Trails System....

s
  • Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
    Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
    The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail is part of the U.S. National Trails System. It recognizes the Revolutionary War Overmountain Men, Patriots from what is now East Tennessee who crossed the Great Smoky Mountains and then fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain in South...


Further reading


  • ATC's official Appalachian Trail guide is the Thru-Hiker's Companion, compiled by volunteers of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) (available at AppalachianTrail.org).
  • The Official AT Databook, an annually updated compilation of trail mileages, water sources, road crossings, shelter locations, and other information.
  • The 2009 DataBook is the 31st annual edition, is considered indispensable by many AT hikers, and the data published within is used by many other hiking guides.[Backpack45.com "Appalachian Trail Guidebooks for the thru hiker."]
  • Also available through the ATC are individual state guidebooks and map sets.


Another annual guide book to the AT,The A.T. Guide by David Miller, incoporates several innovative features, including an elevation profile for the entire trail.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, is a marked hiking
Hiking
Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking...

 trail in the eastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 extending between Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County of northern Georgia. It is now the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.-Geography:The mountain's peak is at above mean sea level.-Appalachian Trail:...

 in Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 and Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine at . Named Katahdin by the Penobscot Indians, the term means "The Greatest Mountain". Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park: a steep, tall mountain formed from underground magma. The flora and fauna on the mountain are typical of those...

 in Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

. It is approximately 2181 miles (3,510 km) long. Along the way, the trail passes through the states of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

, New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, and Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

. The path is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, and managed by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

. The majority of the trail is in wilderness
Wilderness
Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...

, although some portions traverse towns and roads, and cross rivers.

The Appalachian Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers
Thru-hiking
Thru-hiking is the process of hiking a long-distance trail from end to end. The term is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail, but is also used for other lengthy trails and long distance hikes, including the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. Thru-hiking is also...

, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season. Many books, memoirs, web sites and fan organizations are dedicated to this pursuit.

An unofficial extension known as the International Appalachian Trail
International Appalachian Trail
The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...

, continues north into Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and to the end of the range, where it enters the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

.

The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail
Continental Divide Trail
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico...

 and the Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance mountain hiking and equestrian trail on the Western Seaboard of the United States. The southern terminus is at the California border with Mexico...

 form what is known as the Triple Crown
Triple Crown of Hiking
The Triple Crown of Hiking informally refers to the three major U.S. long distance hiking trails:* Pacific Crest Trail - long, Washington, Oregon, and California between Mexico and Canada following the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range....

 of long distance hiking in the United States.

History


The trail was conceived by Benton MacKaye
Benton MacKaye
Benton MacKaye was an American forester, planner and conservationist. He was born in Stamford, Connecticut; his father was actor and dramatist Steele MacKaye. After studying forestry at Harvard University , Benton later taught there for several years. He joined a number of Federal bureaus and...

, a forester who wrote his original plan shortly after the death of his wife in 1921. MacKaye's idea detailed a grand trail that would connect a series of farms and wilderness work/study camps for city-dwellers. In 1922, at the suggestion of Major William A. Welch
William A. Welch
Major William Addams Welch was an American engineer and environmentalist who would have a major impact on the state and national park systems of the United States...

, director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Palisades Interstate Park and its creator, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, was formed in 1900 by governors Theodore Roosevelt of New York and Foster M. Voorhees of New Jersey in response to the destruction of the Palisades by quarry operators in the late 19th century...

, his idea was publicized by Raymond H. Torrey
Raymond H. Torrey
Raymond Hezekiah Torrey was the author of weekly columns, Outings and The Long Brown Path in the New York Evening Post in the 1920s and 1930s. The column played a major role in the development of the Appalachian Trail, the Long Path and the popularity of hiking generally...

 with a story in the New York Evening Post under a full-page banner headline reading "A Great Trail from Maine to Georgia!" The idea was quickly adopted by the new Palisades Interstate Park Trail Conference as their main project.

On October 7, 1923, the first section of the trail, from Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park is located on the west side of the Hudson River in Orange and Rockland counties of New York. The park offers biking, hiking, boating, picnicking, swimming, cross-country skiing, cross-country running, sledding and ice skating...

 west through Harriman State Park to Arden, New York
Arden, New York
Arden, is a hamlet around the town line of Tuxedo and Monroe, New York, in the United States. It is roughly coterminous with the 10910 ZIP Code....

, was opened. MacKaye then called for a two-day Appalachian Trail conference to be held in March 1925 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 This resulted in the formation of the Appalachian Trail Conference
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

 (now called the Appalachian Trail Conservancy).

A retired judge named Arthur Perkins
Arthur Perkins (Connecticut Judge)
Arthur Perkins was an American lawyer and judge from Hartford, Connecticut who, during his retirement, spearheaded the effort to make Benton MacKaye's vision of the Appalachian Trail—a proposed 2,000-mile contiguous footpath to run through fourteen states—a reality.Perkins appointed himself acting...

 and his younger associate Myron Avery
Myron Avery
Myron Haliburton Avery was an American lawyer, hiker and explorer. Born in Lubec, Maine, Avery was a protégé of Judge Arthur Perkins and a collaborator and sometimes rival of Benton MacKaye. He was president of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club from 1927 to 1941 and chairman of the Appalachian...

 took up the cause. In 1929, Perkins, who was also a member of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association
Connecticut Forest and Park Association
The Connecticut Forest and Park Association , established in 1895, is the oldest private, nonprofit conservation organization in Connecticut. The organization is credited as an important early pioneer of the national land conservation movement and as an early advocate of long distance trail building...

 and its Blue Blazed Trails committee, found Ned Anderson
Nestell Kipp Anderson
Nestell Kipp "Ned" Anderson was an American farmer who spearheaded Connecticut's leg of the Appalachian Trail, which currently runs for 50 miles through the northwest corner of the state...

, a farmer in Sherman, Connecticut
Sherman, Connecticut
Sherman is the northernmost and least populous town of Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 3,581 at the 2010 census. The town is named for New Haven's Founding Father, Roger Sherman....

, who took on the task of mapping and blazing the Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 leg of the trail (1929–1933). It ran from Dog Tail Corners in Webatuck, New York
Dover, New York
Dover is a town in Dutchess County, New York, United States. The population was 8,565 at the 2000 census. The town was named after Dover in England, the home town of an early settler....

, which borders Kent, Connecticut
Kent, Connecticut
Kent is a town in Litchfield County, Connecticut, alongside the border with New York. The population was 2,858 at the 2000 census. The town is home to three New England boarding schools: South Kent School, Kent School and The Marvelwood School. The Schaghticoke Indian Reservation is also located...

, at Ashley Falls, 50 miles (80.5 km) through the northwest corner of the state, up to Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain (Connecticut)
Bear Mountain, is prominent peak of the southern Taconic Mountains. It lies within the town of Salisbury, Connecticut, in the United States, and is the highest mountain summit in the state of Connecticut. The highest point in the state, however, is located on the south slope of Mount Frissell to...

 at the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 border. (A portion of the Connecticut trail has since been rerouted [1979-83] to be more scenic, adhering less to highways and more to wilderness, and includes a Ned K. Anderson Memorial Bridge.)

Anderson’s efforts helped spark renewed interest in the trail, and Avery (leading the charge since Perkins’ death in 1932) was able to bring other states onboard. Upon taking over the ATC, Avery adopted the more practical goal of building a simple hiking trail. He and MacKaye clashed over the ATC's response to a major commercial development along the trail's path; MacKaye left the organization, while Avery was willing to simply reroute the trail. Avery reigned as Chairman of the ATC from 1932 to 1952 (he died that same year).

Avery became the first to walk the trail end-to-end, though not as a thru-hike
Thru-hiking
Thru-hiking is the process of hiking a long-distance trail from end to end. The term is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail, but is also used for other lengthy trails and long distance hikes, including the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. Thru-hiking is also...

, in 1936. In August 1937, the trail was completed to Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain (Franklin County, Maine)
Sugarloaf Mountain is a mountain located in Franklin County, Maine. It is the second highest mountain in the state, after Mount Katahdin. Sugarloaf is flanked to the south by Spaulding Mountain....

 in Maine, and the ATC shifted its focus toward protecting the trail lands and mapping the trail for hikers. From 1938 to the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the trail suffered a series of natural and man-made setbacks. At the end of the war, the damage to the trail was repaired.

In 1948, Earl Shaffer
Earl Shaffer
Earl V. Shaffer , was an American outdoorsman and author known from 1948 as The Crazy One for attempting what became the first documented hiking trip over the entire length of the Appalachian Trail...

 of York, Pennsylvania
York, Pennsylvania
York, known as the White Rose City , is a city located in York County, Pennsylvania, United States which is in the South Central region of the state. The population within the city limits was 43,718 at the 2010 census, which was a 7.0% increase from the 2000 count of 40,862...

, brought a great deal of attention to the project by completing the first documented thru-hike. Later Shaffer also completed the first north-to-south thru-hike, making him the first to do so in each direction. In 1998 Mr. Shaffer, nearly 80 years old, again hiked the entirety of the trail, making him the oldest person ever to complete a thru-hike.

In 1994, a story appeared in the Appalachian Trailway News describing a 121-day Maine to Georgia thru-hike in 1936 by six Boy Scouts
Scouting in New York
Scouting in New York has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live...

 from the Bronx. Although the story has been accepted by some members of ALDHA, a great deal of doubt has also been expressed and this earlier thru-hike has never been verified. Shaffer's 1948 journey is still generally recognized as the first A.T. thru-hike.

In the 1960s, the ATC made progress toward protecting the trail from development, thanks to efforts of politicians and officials. The National Trails System Act of 1968 designated the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail as the first national scenic trails and paved the way for a series of National Scenic Trail
National Scenic Trail
National Scenic Trail is a designation for protected areas in the United States that consist of trails of particular natural beauty.National Scenic Trails were authorized under the National Trails System Act of 1968 along with National Historic Trails and National Recreation Trails...

s within the National Park and National Forest systems. Trail volunteers worked with the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 to map a permanent route for the trail, and by 1971 a permanent route had been marked (though minor changes continue to this day). By the close of the 20th century, the Park Service had completed the purchase of all but a few miles of the trail's span.

Extensions


The International Appalachian Trail
International Appalachian Trail
The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...

 is a 1900 miles (3,057.7 km) unofficial extension running north from Maine into New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

 and Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

. It is a separate trail, not an official extension of the Appalachian Trail. A further extension to Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

 has recently been completed.

In 2010, a group of geologists representing the International Appalachian Trail began a push to extend the trail across the Atlantic Ocean, across Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 in the North Atlantic and into Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

, then down to the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

 of Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

.

In 2008, the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
The Pinhoti Trail is a long-distance trail, long, locate in the United States within in the states Alabama and Georgia. The trail's southern terminus is on Flagg Mountain which is located near Weogufka, Alabama...

 in Alabama and Georgia was connected to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail via the Benton MacKaye Trail
Benton MacKaye Trail
The Benton MacKaye Trail or BMT is a footpath nearly in length in the Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States and is blazed by a white diamond, 5" across by 7" tall...

. Promoters of the Southern extension refer to MacKaye's statement at the 1925 conference that the Georgia to New Hampshire trail should, in the future, extend to Katahdin, and "then to Birmingham, Alabama". The Pinhoti Trail now terminates at Flagg Mountain, near Weogufka in Coosa County
Coosa County, Alabama
Coosa County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. Its name derives from a town of the Creek tribe. As of 2010 the population was 11,539, but since that time it has lost the most population by percentage of any Alabama county...

, 50 miles (80.5 km) east of Birmingham.

Flora and fauna


The Appalachian Trail is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, including 2,000 distinct rare, threatened, endangered, and sensitive plant and animal species.

Animals


The American black bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

 (Ursus americanus) is the largest omnivore that may be encountered on the trail, and it inhabits all regions of the Appalachians. Bear sightings on the trail are uncommon, and confrontations rarer still.
Other hazards include venomous snakes, including the Eastern timber rattlesnake
Crotalus horridus
Crotalus horridus, the timber rattlesnake, is a species of venomous pitviper found in the eastern United States. This is the only rattlesnake species in most of the populous northeastern United States. No subspecies are currently recognized....

 and copperhead
Agkistrodon contortrix
Agkistrodon contortrix is a species of venomous snake found in North America, a member of the Crotalinae subfamily. The more common name for the species is "copperhead". The behavior of Agkistrodon contortrix may lead to accidental encounters with humans...

, which are common along the trail. Both snakes are generally found in drier, rockier sections of the trail; the copperhead's range extends north to around the New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

-New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 state line, while rattlesnakes are commonly found along the trail in Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 and have been reported, although rarely, as far north as New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

. Other large mammals commonly sighted include deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

; elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

, reintroduced in the Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains or the...

; and moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

, which live as far south as Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 but are more commonly seen in northern New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

.
For most hikers, the most persistent pests along the trail are mice
MICE
-Fiction:*Mice , alien species in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy*The Mice -Acronyms:* "Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions", facilities terminology for events...

, which inhabit shelters, and bugs, which include tick
Tick
Ticks are small arachnids in the order Ixodida, along with mites, constitute the subclass Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites , living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians...

s, mosquito
Mosquito
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematocerid flies: the Culicidae . The word Mosquito is from the Spanish and Portuguese for little fly...

s, and black flies.

Plants


Plant life along the trail is varied. The trail passes through several different biomes from south to north, and the climate changes significantly, particularly dependent upon elevation. In the south, lowland forests consist mainly of second-growth; nearly the entire trail has been logged at one time or another. There are, however, a few old growth locations along the trail, such as Sages Ravine straddling the Massachusetts-Connecticut border and atop higher peaks along the trail on either side of the same border, the Hopper (a glacial cirque westward of the trail as it traverses Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts), and "The Hermitage", near Gulf Hagas in Maine. In the south, the forest is dominated by hardwoods, including oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 and tulip trees
Liriodendron tulipifera
Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar or yellow poplar, is the Western Hemisphere representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron, and the tallest eastern hardwood...

, also known as yellow poplar. Further north, tulip trees are gradually replaced by maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

s and birch
Birch
Birch is a tree or shrub of the genus Betula , in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. The Betula genus contains 30–60 known taxa...

es. Oaks begin to disappear in Massachusetts. By Vermont, the lowland forest is made up of maples, birch and beech
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

, which provide spectacular foliage displays for hikers in September and October. While the vast majority of lowland forest south of the White Mountains
White Mountains (New Hampshire)
The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England...

 is hardwood, many areas have some coniferous trees as well, and in Maine, these often grow at low elevations.

There is a drastic change between the lowland and subalpine
Subalpine
The subalpine zone is the biotic zone immediately below tree line around the world. Species that occur in this zone depend on the location of the zone on the Earth, for example, Snow Gum in Australia, or Subalpine Larch, Mountain Hemlock and Subalpine Fir in western North America.Trees in the...

, evergreen
Evergreen
In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs...

 forest, as well as another, higher break, at tree line, above which only hardy alpine plants grow. The sub-alpine region is far more prevalent along the trail than true alpine conditions. While it mainly exists in the north, a few mountains in the south have subalpine environments, which are typically coated in an ecosystem known as the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest
Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest
The Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest is a type of montane coniferous forest that grows in the highest elevations in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States...

. Southern ranges and mountains where sub-alpine environments occur include the Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains or the...

, where sub-alpine environments only begin around 6000 feet (1,828.8 m) in elevation, Roan Highlands on the North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

-Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 border, where sub-alpine growth descends below 6000 feet (1,828.8 m), and Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

 and the Grayson Highlands in Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, where there is some alpine growth above 5000 feet (1,524 m). Appalachian balds
Appalachian balds
In the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States, balds are mountain summits or crests covered primarily by thick vegetation of native grasses or shrubs occurring in areas where heavy forest growth would be expected....

 are also found in the Southern highlands, and are believed to occur due to fires or grazing in recent centuries, or in some cases due to thin, sandy soils. Several balds are sprouting trees, and on some, the National Forest
United States National Forest
National Forest is a classification of federal lands in the United States.National Forests are largely forest and woodland areas owned by the federal government and managed by the United States Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture. Land management of these areas...

 service actually mows the grasses periodically in order to keep the balds free of trees.

Topography


No sub-alpine regions exist between Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

 in Virginia and Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in Massachusetts at . Its peak is located in the northwest corner of the state in the western part of the town of Adams in Berkshire County. Although geologically part of the Taconic Mountains, Mount Greylock is commonly associated with the abutting...

 in Massachusetts, mainly because the trail stays below 3000 feet (914.4 m) from Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

 in Virginia to Mount Greylock. Mount Greylock, however, has a large subalpine region, the only such forest in Massachusetts, extending down to 3000 feet (914.4 m), which in the south would be far from the sub-alpine cutoff. This is especially low because Greylock is exposed to prevailing westerly winds, as the summits along its ridgeline rise approximately 200 feet (61 m) to 650 feet (198.1 m) higher than any other peak in Massachusetts. Further north, several peaks in Vermont reach into the sub-alpine zone, the bottom of which steadily descends as one proceeds northward, so that by the White Mountains
White Mountains (New Hampshire)
The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England...

 in New Hampshire, it often occurs well below 3000 feet (914.4 m). At Mount Moosilauke, which summits at 4802 feet (1,463.6 m), the first alpine
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

 environment on the trail is reached, where only thin, sporadic flora is interspersed with bare rocks. Between the two regions is the krummholz
Krummholz
Krummholz or Krumholtz formation — also called Knieholz — is a particular feature of subarctic and subalpine tree line landscapes. Continual exposure to fierce, freezing winds causes vegetation to become stunted and deformed...

 region, where stunted trees grow with their branches oriented away from the winter's prevailing northwest wind, thus giving the appearance of flags (they are often called "flag trees"). This region resembles lowland terrain hundreds of miles north in Canada. It also contains many endangered and threatened species. The trail has been rerouted over New Hampshire's Presidential Range
Presidential Range
The Presidential Range is a mountain range located in the White Mountains of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Containing the highest peaks of the Whites, its most notable summits are named for American Presidents, followed by prominent public figures of the 18th and 19th centuries.Mt...

 so the Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 can protect certain plant life. The alpine cutoff in the Whites is generally between 4200 feet (1,280.2 m) and 4800 feet (1,463 m). Mountains traversed by the AT above treeline include Mount Moosilauke, several miles along the Franconia Range
Franconia Range
The Franconia Range is a mountain range located in the White Mountains of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. It is the second-highest range of peaks in the White Mountains....

 and along the Presidential Range
Presidential Range
The Presidential Range is a mountain range located in the White Mountains of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Containing the highest peaks of the Whites, its most notable summits are named for American Presidents, followed by prominent public figures of the 18th and 19th centuries.Mt...

. In the Presidentials, the trail climbs as high as 6288 feet (1,916.6 m) on Mount Washington
Mount Washington (New Hampshire)
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at , famous for dangerously erratic weather. For 76 years, a weather observatory on the summit held the record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth's surface, , on the afternoon of April 12, 1934...

 and spends about 13 miles (20.9 km) continuously above treeline, in the largest alpine environment in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

.

In Maine, the trail extends into even harsher environments, and sub-alpine and alpine growth descends to lower elevations. Alpine growth in the state ranges from around 2500 feet (762 m) in the Mahoosuc Range to below 1000 feet (304.8 m) in parts of the Hundred-Mile Wilderness, where nearly every area higher than 1000 feet (304.8 m) is evergreen forest. These forests include more species of evergreen, as well. In addition to the white pine
Eastern White Pine
Pinus strobus, commonly known as the eastern white pine, is a large pine native to eastern North America, occurring from Newfoundland west to Minnesota and southeastern Manitoba, and south along the Appalachian Mountains to the northern edge of Georgia.It is occasionally known as simply white pine,...

, spruce
Spruce
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea , a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical...

 and hemlock
Tsuga
Tsuga is a genus of conifers in the family Pinaceae. The common name hemlock is derived from a perceived similarity in the smell of its crushed foliage to that of the unrelated plant poison hemlock....

 prevalent further south, Maine has many cedar trees along the trail. Near the northern terminus, there are even some tamarack (larch), a coniferous, pine-needled deciduous tree, which provides displays of yellow in the late fall after the birches and maples have gone bare. The hemlocks in Maine are also notable, as the woolly adelgid
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
Hemlock woolly adelgid , commonly abbreviated as HWA, is a true bug native to East Asia that feeds by sucking sap from hemlock trees . In eastern North America, it is a destructive pest that poses a major threat to the eastern hemlock and the Carolina hemlock...

, which has ravaged populations further south, has not come into the state yet, and may be unable to make it so far north due to the cold climate.

Maine also has several alpine regions. In addition to several areas of the Mahoosuc Range, the Baldpates and Old Blue in southern Maine have alpine characteristics despite elevations below 4000 feet (1,219.2 m). Saddleback Mountain
Saddleback Mountain (Rangeley, Maine)
Saddleback Mountain is a mountain located in Rangeley, Franklin County, Maine.Saddleback is one of the highest mountains in the State of Maine, and one of the fourteen with more than of topographic prominence. The mountain is the site of Saddleback ski resort.Saddleback is flanked to the northeast...

 and Mount Bigelow
Mount Bigelow (Maine)
Mount Bigelow is a long mountain ridge with several summits. It is located in Franklin County and Somerset County, Maine. It is one of Maine's highest summits...

, further north, each only extend a bit above 4000 feet (1,219.2 m), but have long alpine areas, with no tree growth on the summits and unobstructed views on clear days. From Mount Bigelow, the trail extends for 150 miles (241.4 km) with only a small area of alpine growth around 3500 feet (1,066.8 m) on the summit of White Cap Mountain
White Cap Mountain (Piscataquis County, Maine)
White Cap Mountain is a mountain located in Piscataquis County, Maine.White Cap Mtn. is flanked to the east by Hay Mountain, to the south by Big Spruce Mountain and to the southeast by Little Spruce Mountain.White Cap Mtn...

. Mount Katahdin, the second largest alpine environment in the eastern United States, has several square miles of alpine area on the flat "table land" summit as well as the cliffs and aretes
Arete
Areté is the term meaning "virtue" or "excellence", from Greek ἈρετήArete may also be used:*as a given name of persons or things:**Queen Arete , a character in Homer's Odyssey.***197 Arete, an asteroid....

 leading up to it. Treeline on Mount Katahdin is only around 3500 feet (1,066.8 m). This elevation in Massachusetts would barely be a sub-alpine region, and, south of Virginia, consists of lowland forest. This illustrates the drastic change in climate over 2000 miles (3,218.7 km).

Despite the alpine environments well below 5000 feet (1,524 m) in New Hampshire and Maine, some higher places further south are not alpine. Examples include Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald is a high-altitude treeless open area in Nantahala National Forest, near Franklin, North Carolina. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area's highest point ; the stone observation tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 for fire detection.The...

 in North Carolina 5342 feet (1,628.2 m) and Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an elevation of , it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail...

 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North...

 6643 feet (2,024.8 m).

Hiking the trail


As the Appalachian Trail was explicitly designed to be hiked, it includes resources to facilitate hikers. Some are common to trails throughout North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, while some are unique to the Appalachian Trail. The trail is much more frequently hiked south to north (i.e. Georgia to Maine) than vice versa. Hikers typically begin in March or April and finish in late summer or early to late fall of that particular year (or, in the case of southbound hikers, June to March).

Navigation


Throughout its length, the AT is marked by 2-by-6-inch (5-by-15-cm) white paint blazes
Trail blazing
Trail blazing, or trailblazing, is the practice of marking paths in outdoor recreational areas with blazes, markings that follow each other at certain — though not necessarily exactly defined — distances and mark the direction of the trail...

. Side trails to shelters, viewpoints and parking areas use similarly shaped blue blazes. In past years, some sections of the trail also used metal diamond markers with the AT logo, few of which survive.

Lodging and camping


The trail has more than 250 shelters and campsites available for hikers. The shelters, sometimes called lean-tos (in Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut), huts (in Shenandoah National Park) or Adirondack shelters, are generally open, three-walled structures with a wooden floor, although some shelters are much more complex in structure. Shelters are usually spaced a day's hike or less apart, most often near a water source (which may be dry) and with a privy
Outhouse
An outhouse is a small structure separate from a main building which often contained a simple toilet and may possibly also be used for housing animals and storage.- Terminology :...

. They generally have spaces for tent sites in the vicinity. The Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 (AMC) operates a system of eight huts
High Huts of the White Mountains
The High Huts of the White Mountains are a series of eight mountain huts in the White Mountains, in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, owned and maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Modeled after similar huts in the Alps, they are positioned at intervals along the Appalachian Trail, allowing...

 along 56 miles (90.1 km) of New Hampshire's White Mountains. These huts are significantly larger than standard trail shelters and offer full-service lodging and meals during the summer months. The Fontana Dam Shelter in North Carolina, is more commonly referred to as the Fontana Hilton because of amenities (e.g. flush toilets) and its proximity to an all-you-can-eat buffet and post office. Several AMC huts have an extended self-service season during the fall, with two extending self-service seasons through the winter and spring. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, or ', is a volunteer organization that works to maintain hiking trails in the Washington D.C. area...

 maintains trail cabins, shelters, and huts throughout the Shenandoah region
Shenandoah Valley AVA
The Shenandoah Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginia. The valley is bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Appalachian and Allegheny Plateaus to the west. Most of the AVA is in Virignia, with a small portion in...

 of Virginia.

Shelters are generally maintained by local volunteers. Almost all shelters have one or more pre-hung food hangers (generally consisting of a short nylon cord with an upside-down tuna can suspended halfway down its length) where hikers can hang their food bags to keep them out of the reach of rodents. In hiker lingo, these are sometimes called "mouse trapezes."

In addition to official shelters, many people offer their homes, places of business, or inns to accommodate AT hikers. One example is the Little Lyford Pond camps
Little Lyford Pond camps
-Early history:The camps were opened in 1874, bordering the West Branch of the Pleasant River in northern Maine in the United States. They included a maine lodge and 13 cabins as well as satellite camps for housing loggers. The camps are a 2.2 mile hike from Gulf Hagas and a 5.2 mile hike from the...

 maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

. Inns are more common in sections of the trail that coincide with national parks, most notably Virginia's Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

.

Trail towns



The trail crosses many roads, thus providing ample opportunity for hikers to hitchhike into town for food and other supplies. Many trail towns are accustomed to hikers passing through, and thus many have hotel
Hotel
A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. The provision of basic accommodation, in times past, consisting only of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with modern facilities, including en-suite bathrooms...

s and hiker-oriented accommodations. Some of the most well-known trail towns are Hot Springs, North Carolina
Hot Springs, North Carolina
Hot Springs is a town in Madison County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 645 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Hot Springs is located at ....

; Erwin, Tennessee
Erwin, Tennessee
Erwin is a town in and the county seat of Unicoi County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 5,610 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area...

; Damascus, Virginia
Damascus, Virginia
Damascus is a town in Washington County, Virginia, United States. The population was 981 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Kingsport–Bristol –Bristol Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical...

; Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States. In many books the town is called "Harper's Ferry" with an apostrophe....

; Duncannon, Pennsylvania
Duncannon, Pennsylvania
Duncannon is a borough in Perry County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1,508 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area. The center of population of Pennsylvania is located in Duncannon. It is named after the coastal town of...

; Port Clinton, Pennsylvania
Port Clinton, Pennsylvania
Port Clinton is a borough in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 288 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Port Clinton is located at ....

; Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover is a town along the Connecticut River in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 11,260 at the 2010 census. CNN and Money magazine rated Hanover the sixth best place to live in America in 2011, and the second best in 2007....

; and Monson, Maine
Monson, Maine
Monson is a town in Piscataquis County, Maine, United States. As of the 2000 census, the town had a population of 666. The town is located on Route 15 which is a somewhat major route north to the well known Moosehead Lake Region, to which Monson is sometimes considered a gateway...

. In the areas of the trail closer to trail towns, many hikers have experienced what is sometimes called "trail magic," or assistance from strangers through kind actions, gifts, and other forms of encouragement. Trail magic is sometimes done anonymously. In other instances, persons have provided food and cooked for hikers at a campsite.

Hazards


The Appalachian Trail is relatively safe. Most injuries or incidents are consistent with comparable outdoor activities. Most hazards are related to weather conditions, human error, plants, animals, diseases, and fellow humans encountered along the trail.

Many animals live around the trail, with bears, snakes, and wild boars posing the greatest threat to human safety. Several rodent- and bug-borne illnesses are also a potential hazard. In scattered instances, fox
Fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

es, raccoon
Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

s, and other small animals may bite hikers, posing risk of rabies
Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic , most commonly by a bite from an infected animal. For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms...

 and other diseases. There has been one reported case (in 1993) of hantavirus
Hantavirus
Hantaviruses are negative sense RNA viruses in the Bunyaviridae family. Humans may be infected with hantaviruses through rodent bites, urine, saliva or contact with rodent waste products...

 (HPS), a rare but dangerous rodent-borne disease affecting the lungs. The afflicted hiker recovered and hiked the trail the following year.

The section of the trail that runs through the Mid-Atlantic and New England states have a very high population of Deer Ticks carrying Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, and represents the highest density of reported Lyme Disease in the country. Hikers should understand the risks, and take appropriate precautions.

Plant life can create its own brand of problems. Poison ivy
Poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans, better known as poison ivy , is a poisonous North American plant that is well known for its production of urushiol, a clear liquid compound found within the sap of the plant that causes an itching rash in most people who touch it...

 is common the length of the trail, and more plentiful in the South.

Hiking season of the trail generally starts in mid to late spring, when conditions are much more favorable in the South. However, this time may also be characterized by extreme heat, sometimes in excess of 100 °F (37.8 °C). Under such conditions, hydration is imperative. Light clothing and sunscreens are a must at high elevations and areas without foliage, even in relatively cool weather.

Further north and at higher elevations, the weather can be intensely cold, characterized by low temperatures, strong winds, hail or snow storms and reduced visibility. Prolonged rain, though not typically life-threatening, can undermine stamina and ruin supplies.

Violent crime
Violent crime
A violent crime or crime of violence is a crime in which the offender uses or threatens to use violent force upon the victim. This entails both crimes in which the violent act is the objective, such as murder, as well as crimes in which violence is the means to an end, such as robbery. Violent...

, including murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

, has occurred on the trail in a few instances. Most have been crimes by non-hikers who crossed paths relatively randomly with the AT hiker-victims. The official website of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy points out that the number of violent crimes is extremely low when compared against the number of people (3 to 4 million) who hike on the trail every year.

The first reported homicide on the trail was in 1974 in Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. In 1981, the issue of violence on the Appalachian Trail received national attention when Robert Mountford Jr. and Laura Susan Ramsay, both social workers in Ellsworth, Maine
Ellsworth, Maine
Ellsworth is a city in and the county seat of Hancock County, Maine, United States. The 2010 Census determined it had a population of 7,741. Ellsworth was Maine's fastest growing city from 2000-2010 with a growth rate of nearly 20 percent...

, were murdered by Randall Lee Smith
Randall Lee Smith
Randall Lee Smith was a convicted murderer from Pearisburg, Virginia. He pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Robert Mountford Jr. and Laura Susan Ramsay, who were killed while hiking the Appalachian Trail, in May 1981...

. Another homicide occurred in May 1996, when two women were abducted, bound and murdered near the trail in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

. The primary suspect was later discovered harassing a female bicycler in the vicinity, but charges against him were dropped, and the case remains unsolved.

Trail completion


Trail hikers who attempt to complete the entire trail in a single season are called "thru-hikers"; those who traverse the trail during a series of separate trips are known as "section-hikers". Rugged terrain, weather extremes, freedom from illness or injury, and the desire to commit the time and effort required make thru-hiking difficult to accomplish.

Traditionally, only about 10% to 15% of those who make the attempt report to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy that they completed it. However, since 2001, the number of people starting out in Georgia to do a thru-hike (or at least registering to do so) has dropped considerably, yet the number of people reporting that they have completed a thru-hike has remained approximately the same. This has resulted in an apparent increase in the completion rate to 29% (as of 2006).

A thru-hike generally requires five to seven months, although some have done it in three months, and several trail runners have completed the trail in less time. Trail runners
Trail running
Trail running is a variant on running that differs markedly from road running and track running. Trail running generally takes place on hiking trails, most commonly single track trails, although fire roads are not uncommon. A distinguishing characteristic of the trails is that they are often...

 typically tackle the AT with automobile support teams, without backpacks, and without camping in the woods.

The current speed record for thru-hiking the AT was set by Jennifer Pharr Davis
Jennifer Pharr Davis
Jennifer Pharr Davis is an American long distance hiker. She currently holds the unofficial record for the fastest thru hike of the Appalachian Trail with a time of 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, set on July 31, 2011....

 in 2011, at 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. Pharr Davis made the trip southbound, from mid June to late July.

Thru-hikers are classified into many informal groups. "Purists" are hikers who stick to the official AT trail, follow the white blazes, except for side trips to shelters and camp sites. "Blue Blazers" cut miles from the full route by taking side trails marked by blue blazes. The generally pejorative name "Yellow Blazers," a reference to yellow road stripes, is given to those who hitchhike to move down the trail. There are also those who hike the entire trail in sections known as "section hikers" as opposed to those who hike the whole trail as one course.

Most thru-hikers walk northward from Georgia to Maine, and generally start out in early spring and follow the warm weather as it moves north. These "north-bounders" are also called NOBO (NOrthBOund) or GAME (Georgia(GA)-to-Maine(ME)), while those heading in the opposite direction are termed "south-bounders" (also SOBO or MEGA).

Part of hiker subculture includes making colorful entries in logbooks at trail shelters, signed using pseudonyms called trail names
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy gives the name "2000 Miler" to anyone who completes the entire trail. The ATC's recognition policy for "2000 Milers" gives equal recognition to thru-hikers and section-hikers, operates on the honor system, and recognizes blue-blazed trails or officially required roadwalks as substitutes for the official, white-blazed route during an emergency such as a flood, forest fire, or impending storm on an exposed, high-elevation stretch. As of 2010, more than 11,000 people had reported completing the entire trail. About three-quarters of these are thru-hikers.

The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail
Continental Divide Trail
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico...

 and the Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance mountain hiking and equestrian trail on the Western Seaboard of the United States. The southern terminus is at the California border with Mexico...

 form what is known as the Triple Crown
Triple Crown of Hiking
The Triple Crown of Hiking informally refers to the three major U.S. long distance hiking trails:* Pacific Crest Trail - long, Washington, Oregon, and California between Mexico and Canada following the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range....

 of long distance hiking in the United States. In 2001, Brian Robinson
Brian Robinson (hiker)
Brian Robinson is the first to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail in one year, a feat that means he hiked a total of over 7,000 miles....

 became the first one to complete all three trails in a year.

Route




The trail is currently protected along more than 99% of its course by federal or state ownership of the land or by right-of-way
Easement
An easement is a certain right to use the real property of another without possessing it.Easements are helpful for providing pathways across two or more pieces of property or allowing an individual to fish in a privately owned pond...

. The trail is maintained by a variety of citizen organizations, environmental advocacy groups, governmental agencies and individuals. Annually, more than 4,000 volunteers contribute over 175,000 hours of effort on the Appalachian Trail, an effort coordinated largely by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

 (ATC) organization. In total, the AT passes through eight national forests and two national parks.

In the course of its journey, the trail follows the ridgeline of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

, crossing many of its highest peaks, and running, with only a few exceptions, almost continuously through wilderness
Wilderness
Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...

. The trail used to traverse many hundreds of miles of private property; currently 99% of the trail is on public land.



Georgia



Georgia has 75 miles (120 km) of the trail, including the southern terminus at Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County of northern Georgia. It is now the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.-Geography:The mountain's peak is at above mean sea level.-Appalachian Trail:...

 at an elevation of 3,280 feet (992 m). At 4,461 feet (1360 m), Blood Mountain
Blood Mountain
Blood Mountain is the highest peak on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail and the sixth-tallest mountain in Georgia, with an elevation of . It is located on the border of Lumpkin County with Union County and is within the boundaries of the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Blood...

 is the highest point on the trail in Georgia. The AT and approach trail, along with many miles of blue blazed side trails, are managed and maintained by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club
Georgia Appalachian Trail Club
The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was organized in 1930 in Dahlonega, GA. Its membership consists of individual volunteers who share a love for the Appalachian Trail ....

. See also: Georgia Peaks on the Appalachian Trail.

North Carolina



North Carolina has 88 miles (142 km) of the trail, not including more than 200 miles (325 km) along the Tennessee Border. Altitude ranges from 1,725 to 5,498 feet (525 m to 1676 m). The trail enters from Georgia at Bly Gap, ascending peaks such as Standing Indian Mountain
Standing Indian Mountain
Standing Indian Mountain, elevation 5,499 feet, is part of the North Carolina portion of the Southern Nantahala Wilderness within the boundaries of the Nantahala National Forest...

, Mt. Albert
Mount Albert (North Carolina)
Mount Albert is a mountain in North Carolina's Nantahala Range of the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Trail goes along its summit, which is high. A fire tower offers views of the Blue Ridge and the Little Tennessee River valley....

, and Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald is a high-altitude treeless open area in Nantahala National Forest, near Franklin, North Carolina. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area's highest point ; the stone observation tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 for fire detection.The...

. It then goes by Nantahala Outdoor Center
Nantahala Outdoor Center
The Nantahala Outdoor Center is a commercial outdoor guide service and retail store. It opened in 1972 when Payson and Aurelia Kennedy and Horace Holden Sr. took over the old Tote 'N Tarry Motel. NOC is based in western North Carolina near Bryson City, near the Great Smoky Mountains on the...

 at the Nantahala River Gorge and the Nantahala River
Nantahala River
The Nantahala River is a river in western North Carolina in the United States, within the Nantahala National Forest, and near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Two-lane U.S...

 crossing. Up to this point, the trail is maintained by the Nantahala Hiking Club. Beyond this point, it is maintained by the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club. 30 miles (48.3 km) further north, Fontana Dam
Fontana Dam
Fontana Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Little Tennessee River in Swain and Graham counties, North Carolina, USA. The dam is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which built the dam in the early 1940s to accommodate the skyrocketing electricity demands in the Tennessee Valley at the...

 marks the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North...

.

Tennessee



Tennessee has 71 miles (114 km) of the trail, not including more than 200 miles (325 km) along or near the North Carolina Border. The section that runs just below the summit of Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an elevation of , it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail...

 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North...

 is along the North Carolina and Tennessee border and is the highest point on the trail at 6,643 feet (2019 m). The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club (Knoxville, TN) maintains the trail throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Davenport Gap. North of Davenport Gap, the Carolina Mountain Club (Asheville, NC) maintains the trail to Spivey Gap. Then the remaining Tennessee section is maintained by the Tennessee Eastman Hiking & Canoeing Club (Kingsport, TN).

Virginia


Virginia has 550 miles (885 km) of the trail, including about 20 miles (32 km) along the West Virginia border. With the climate, and the timing of northbound hikers, this section is wet and challenging because of the spring thaw and heavy spring rainfall. Substantial portions closely parallel the Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. It runs for 469 miles , mostly along the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains...

 and, in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

, the Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive is a 105-mile road that runs the entire length of the National Park Service's Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, generally along the ridge of the mountains. The scenic drive is particularly popular in the fall when the leaves are changing colors...

. Parts of the trail near the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive are often considered the best for beginner hikers. In the southwestern portion of the state, the trail goes within one half mile of the highest point in Virginia, Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

, which is a short side-hike from the AT.

West Virginia



West Virginia has 4 miles (6 km) of the trail, not including about 20 miles (32 km) along the Virginia border. Here the trail passes through the town of Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States. In many books the town is called "Harper's Ferry" with an apostrophe....

, headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

. Harpers Ferry is considered the "psychological midpoint" of the AT.

Maryland



Maryland has 41 miles (66 km) of the trail, with elevations ranging from 230 to 1,880 feet (70–570 m). Hikers are required to stay at designated shelters and campsites. The trail runs along the C&O Canal Towpath
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, abbreviated as the C&O Canal, and occasionally referred to as the "Grand Old Ditch," operated from 1831 until 1924 parallel to the Potomac River in Maryland from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. The total length of the canal is about . The elevation change of...

 route for 3 miles (4.8 km).

Pennsylvania



Pennsylvania has 229 miles (369 km) of the trail. The trail extends from the Pennsylvania - Maryland line at Pen Mar, a tiny town straddling the state line, to the Delaware Water Gap
Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware Water Gap is on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains...

, at the Pennsylvania - New Jersey border. The Susquehanna River
Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River is a river located in the northeastern United States. At long, it is the longest river on the American east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and with its watershed it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United...

 is generally considered the dividing line between the northern and southern sections of the Pennsylvania AT, and Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a protected Pennsylvania area that includes Laurel and Fuller lakes in Cooke Township. The park provides various outdoor recreation activities, has the remains of the Pine Grove Iron Works, and was the site of the 1830 Laurel Forge, 1880s Pine Grove Park, and an...

 the halfway point of the entire AT.

The AT passes through St. Anthony's Wilderness, which is the second largest roadless area in Pennsylvania and home to several coal mining ghost town
Ghost town
A ghost town is an abandoned town or city. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or nuclear disasters...

s, such as Yellow Springs
Yellow Springs, Pennsylvania
Yellow Springs is a historic village and ghost town in West Pikeland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States, between Phoenixville and Downingtown. The community includes historic churches, established in the 1770s by German Reformed and Lutheran members. The village is located on a...

 and Rausch Gap
Rausch Gap, Pennsylvania
The ghost town of Rausch Gap was the largest of several coal mining towns in St. Anthony's Wilderness that appeared, flourished, and died during the period between 1830 and 1910...

.


New Jersey



New Jersey is home to 72 miles (116 km) of the trail. The trail enters New Jersey from the south on a pedestrian walkway along the Interstate 80
Interstate 80
Interstate 80 is the second-longest Interstate Highway in the United States, following Interstate 90. It is a transcontinental artery running from downtown San Francisco, California to Teaneck, New Jersey in the New York City Metropolitan Area...

 bridge over the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

, ascends from the Delaware Water Gap
Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware Water Gap is on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains...

 to the top of Kittatinny Ridge in Worthington State Forest
Worthington State Forest
The 6,421 acre Worthington State Forest runs more than seven miles along the Kittatinny Ridge in Columbia, in Warren County, on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, just north of the Delaware Water Gap in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The park offers hiking, camping and...

, passes Sunfish Pond
Sunfish Pond
Sunfish Pond is a glacial lake surrounded by a hardwood forest located on the Kittatinny Ridge within Worthington State Forest, adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Warren County, New Jersey. The Appalachian Trail runs alongside the western and northern edges of the...

 (right), continues through Stokes State Forest
Stokes State Forest
Stokes State Forest is a state park located in Sandyston Township, Montague and Frankford Twp. in Sussex County, New Jersey, United States. Stokes comprises of mountainous woods...

 and eventually reaches High Point State Park, the highest peak in New Jersey (a side trail is required to reach the actual peak). It then turns in a southeastern direction along the New York border for about 30 miles (48 km), passing over long sections of boardwalk bridges over marshy land, then entering Wawayanda State Park
Wawayanda State Park
Wawayanda State Park is a 34,350 acre state park in Sussex County and Passaic County in northern New Jersey. The park is in Vernon Township on the Sussex side, and West Milford on the Passaic side. There are 60 miles of hiking trails in the park, including a 20-mile stretch of the Appalachian...

 and then the Abram S. Hewitt State Forest
Abram S. Hewitt State Forest
Abram S. Hewitt State Forest is a state forest by Hewitt in northwestern New Jersey that is . It is on the Bearfort Ridge of unusual conglomerate between Greenwood Lake and Upper Greenwood Lake. It has a number of overlooks and colorful bedrock. It is accessible only on foot, with trails...

 just before entering New York near Greenwood Lake
Greenwood Lake, New York
Greenwood Lake is a village in Orange County, New York, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the village population was 3,411. It is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New...

.

Black bear activity along the trail in New Jersey increased rapidly starting in 2001. Hence, metal bear-proof trash boxes are in place at all New Jersey shelters.


New York



New York's 88 miles (142 km) of trail contain very little elevation change compared to other states. From south to north, the trail summits many small mountains under 1,400 feet (430 m) in elevation, its highest point in New York being Prospect Rock at 1,433 feet (438 m), and only 3,000 feet (800 m) from the border with New Jersey. The trail continues north, climbing near Fitzgerald Falls, passing through Sterling Forest, and then entering Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park is located on the west side of the Hudson River in Orange and Rockland counties of New York. The park offers biking, hiking, boating, picnicking, swimming, cross-country skiing, cross-country running, sledding and ice skating...

. It crosses the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 on the Bear Mountain Bridge
Bear Mountain Bridge
The Bear Mountain Bridge is a toll suspension bridge in New York State, carrying U.S. Highways 202 and 6 across the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester counties...

, the lowest point on the entire Appalachian Trail at 124 feet (38 m). It then passes through Fahnestock State Park
Clarence Fahnestock State Park
Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park a 14,086 acre New York state park, in Putnam and Dutchess counties. The park has hiking trails, an environmental center, a beach on Canopus Lake, and fishing on four ponds and two lakes...

, and continues northeast and crosses the Metro-North Railroad
Metro-North Railroad
The Metro-North Commuter Railroad , trading as MTA Metro-North Railroad, or, more commonly, Metro-North, is a suburban commuter rail service that is run and managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority , an authority of New York State. It is the busiest commuter railroad in the United...

's Harlem Line. This track crossing is the site of the only train station
Appalachian Trail (Metro-North station)
The Appalachian Trail Metro-North Railroad station serves campers and hikers destined for the Appalachian Trail in Dutchess County, New York via the Harlem Line. Trains stop at Appalachian Trail on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays only. It is the only train station along the 2,175 mile length of...

 along the trail's length. It enters Connecticut via the Pawling Nature Reserve. The section of the trail that passes through Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks is the oldest section of the trail, completed in 1923. A portion of this section was paved by 700 volunteers with 800 granite-slab steps followed by over a mile of walkway supported by stone crib walls with boulders lining the path. The project took four years, cost roughly $1 million, and was officially opened in June 2010.

Connecticut



Connecticut's 52 miles (84 km) of trail lie almost entirely along the ridge
Ridge
A ridge is a geological feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous elevated crest for some distance. Ridges are usually termed hills or mountains as well, depending on size. There are several main types of ridges:...

s to the west above the Housatonic River
Housatonic River
The Housatonic River is a river, approximately long, in western Massachusetts and western Connecticut in the United States. It flows south to southeast, and drains about of southwestern New England into Long Island Sound...

 valley.

The state line is also the western boundary of a 480 acre (190 ha) Connecticut reservation
Indian reservation
An American Indian reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs...

 inhabited by Schaghticoke Indians
Schaghticoke (tribe)
The Schaghticoke are a Native American tribe of the Eastern Woodlands consisting of descendants of Mahican , Potatuck , Weantinock, Tunxis, Podunk, and other people indigenous to what is now Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. They amalgamated after encroachment of white settlers on their...

. Inside it, the AT roughly parallels its northern boundary, crossing back outside it after 2,000 feet (640 m). The trail proceeds northward through the Housatonic River valley and hills to its west, veering northwesterly and, at Salisbury, ascending the southern Taconic mountains, at Lion's Head affording a view northeasterly towards Mt. Greylock and other points in Massachusetts, and at Bear Mountain, reaching over 2000 feet (609.6 m) in elevation for the first time since Pennsylvania and yielding views across the Hudson River valley to the Catskills and across the broad expanse of the Housatonic valley and the Berkshire and Litchfield Hills to the east. Just north of Bear, the trail, as it crosses into Massachusetts, descends into Sages Ravine, a deep gorge in the eastern Taconic ridgeline which is home to a fragile old growth forest. As the trail crosses the brook in the ravine, it leaves the area maintained by the Connecticut section of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Massachusetts



Massachusetts has 90 miles (145 km) of trail. The entire section of trail is in western Massachusetts' Berkshire County. It summits the highest peak in the southern Taconic Range
Taconic Mountains
The Taconic Mountains or Taconic Range are a physiographic section of the larger New England province and part of the Appalachian Mountains, running along the eastern border of New York State and adjacent New England from northwest Connecticut to western Massachusetts, north to central western...

, Mount Everett
Mount Everett
Mount Everett at 2,624 ft - or 800 m - is the highest peak in the south Taconic Mountains of Massachusetts. The mountain is known for its expansive views of the southern Taconics and Berkshires; for its fragile ecosystem of old growth pitch pine and scrub oak; and for its rare plant and animal...

 (2,602 ft., 793 m), then descends to the Housatonic River valley and skirts the town of Great Barrington
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Great Barrington is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,104 at the 2010 census. Both a summer resort and home to Ski Butternut, Great Barrington includes the villages of Van...

. The trail passes through the towns of Dalton
Dalton, Massachusetts
Dalton is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. Dalton is the transition town between the urban and rural pieces of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 6,892 at the 2000 census.- History...

 and Cheshire
Cheshire, Massachusetts
Cheshire is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,401 at the 2000 census.-History:...

, and summits the highest point in the state at 3,491 feet (1,064 m), Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in Massachusetts at . Its peak is located in the northwest corner of the state in the western part of the town of Adams in Berkshire County. Although geologically part of the Taconic Mountains, Mount Greylock is commonly associated with the abutting...

. It then quickly descends to the valley within 2 miles (3 km) of North Adams
North Adams, Massachusetts
North Adams is a city in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 13,708 as of the 2010 census, making it the least populous city in the state...

 and Williamstown
Williamstown, Massachusetts
Williamstown is a town in Berkshire County, in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. It shares a border with Vermont to the north and New York to the west. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,754 at the 2010 census...

, before ascending again to the Vermont state line. The trail throughout Massachusetts is maintained by the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Vermont


Vermont has 150 miles (241 km) of the trail. Upon entering Vermont, the trail coincides with the southernmost sections of the generally north/south-oriented Long Trail
Long Trail
The Long Trail is a hiking trail located in Vermont, running the length of the state. It is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States, constructed between 1910 and 1930 by the Green Mountain Club...

 (which is subject to a request by its maintainers to protect it in its most vulnerable part of the year by forgoing spring hiking). It follows the ridge of the southern Green Mountains, summitting such notable peaks as Stratton Mountain
Stratton Mountain (Vermont)
Stratton Mountain is a mountain located in Windham County, Vermont, in the Green Mountain National Forest.The mountain, a monadnock, is the highest point of Windham County, and of the southern Green Mountains generally. A fire tower located on the summit is generally open for climbing by the public...

, Glastenbury Mountain
Glastenbury Mountain
Glastenbury Mountain is a mountain located in Bennington County, Vermont, in the Green Mountain National Forest.The mountain is part of the Green Mountains....

 and Killington Peak
Killington Peak
Killington Peak is the second highest summit in the Green Mountains and in the U.S. state of Vermont. It is located east of Rutland in south-central Vermont. A ski resort, Killington Ski Resort, nicknamed "the beast of the east," is located on the mountain. Killington is a stop on the Long...

. After parting ways with the Long Trail at Maine Junction, the AT turns in a more eastward direction, crossing the White River
White River (Vermont)
The White River is a river in the U.S. state of Vermont. It is a tributary of the Connecticut River.The White River rises at Skylight Pond south of Bread Loaf Mountain near the crest of the Green Mountains. The river flows east to the town of Granville, where it receives the outflow from the...

, passing through Norwich
Norwich, Vermont
Norwich is a town in Windsor County, Vermont, United States, located along the Connecticut River opposite Hanover, New Hampshire. The population was 3,544 at the 2000 census....

, and entering Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover is a town along the Connecticut River in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 11,260 at the 2010 census. CNN and Money magazine rated Hanover the sixth best place to live in America in 2011, and the second best in 2007....

, as it crosses the Connecticut River
Connecticut River
The Connecticut River is the largest and longest river in New England, and also an American Heritage River. It flows roughly south, starting from the Fourth Connecticut Lake in New Hampshire. After flowing through the remaining Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis, it defines the border between the...

. The Green Mountain Club
Green Mountain Club
The Green Mountain Club is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving and protecting Vermont's Long Trail - America's first long-distance hiking trail which stretches from Massachusetts to the Canadian border along Vermont's high ridgeline...

 maintains the AT from the Massachusetts state border to Route 12
Route 12 (New England)
New England Route 12 was a multi-state north–south state highway in the New England region of the United States, running from Groton, Connecticut, through Worcester, Massachusetts, and Keene, New Hampshire, to Morrisville, Vermont. Its number dates from 1922, when it was a New England...

. The Dartmouth Outing Club
Dartmouth Outing Club
The Dartmouth Outing Club is the oldest and largest collegiate outing club in the United States. Proposed in 1909 by Dartmouth College student Fred Harris to "stimulate interest in out-of-door winter sports", the club soon grew to encompass the College's year-round outdoor recreation and has had...

 maintains the trail from VT Route 12 Woodstock to the New Hampshire state line.

New Hampshire




New Hampshire has 161 miles (259 km) of the trail. The New Hampshire AT is nearly all within the White Mountain National Forest
White Mountain National Forest
The White Mountain National Forest is a federally-managed forest contained within the White Mountains in the northeastern United States. It was established in 1918 as a result of the Weeks Act of 1911; federal acquisition of land had already begun in 1914. It has a total area of...

. For northbound thru-hikers, it is the beginning of the main challenges that go beyond enduring distance and time: in New Hampshire and Maine, rough or steep ground are more frequent and alpine
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

 conditions are found near summits and along ridges. The trail reaches 17 of the 48 four-thousand footers
Four-thousand footers
The term Four-Thousand Footers refers to a group of forty-eight mountains in New Hampshire at least 4,000 feet above sea level...

 of New Hampshire, including 6,288' Mount Washington
Mount Washington (New Hampshire)
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at , famous for dangerously erratic weather. For 76 years, a weather observatory on the summit held the record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth's surface, , on the afternoon of April 12, 1934...

, the highest point of the AT north of Tennessee. The Dartmouth Outing Club maintains the AT from the Vermont border past Mount Moosilauke to Kinsman Notch
Kinsman Notch
Kinsman Notch is a mountain pass located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, United States. It is the westernmost of the major notches through the White Mountains...

, Woodstock New Hampshire, with the AMC
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 maintaining the remaining miles through the state.

Maine




Maine has 281 miles (452 km) of the trail. More moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

 are seen by hikers in this state than any other on the trail. The northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is on Mount Katahdin's Baxter Peak in Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is a large wilderness area permanently preserved as a state park, located in Piscataquis County in north-central Maine. The Park was established by 28 donations of land, in Trust, from Park donor Percival P. Baxter between the years of 1931 and 1962, eventually creating a Park of...

.

In some parts of the trail in Maine, such as the Mahoosuc Notch, even the strongest hikers may only average 1 mph. There are other parts in which hikers must hold on to tree limbs and roots to climb and descend, which are especially dangerous and hazardous in wet weather conditions.

The western section includes a mile-long (1.6 km) stretch of boulders, some of which hikers must pass under, at Mahoosuc Notch
Mahoosuc Notch
Mahoosuc Notch is a deep gap in the Mahoosuc Range of western Maine, traversed by the Appalachian Trail. The boulders on this mile-long section of trail present obstacles that must be climbed over and sometimes under, creating a unique hiking experience...

, often called the trail's hardest mile. Also, although there are dozens of river and stream fords on the Maine section of the trail, the Kennebec River
Kennebec River
The Kennebec River is a river that is entirely within the U.S. state of Maine. It rises in Moosehead Lake in west-central Maine. The East and West Outlets join at Indian Pond and the river then flows southward...

 is the only one on the trail that requires a boat crossing. The most isolated portion of the Appalachian Trail, known as the "Hundred-Mile Wilderness", also occurs in Maine. It heads east-northeast from the town of Monson
Monson, Maine
Monson is a town in Piscataquis County, Maine, United States. As of the 2000 census, the town had a population of 666. The town is located on Route 15 which is a somewhat major route north to the well known Moosehead Lake Region, to which Monson is sometimes considered a gateway...

 and ends outside Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is a large wilderness area permanently preserved as a state park, located in Piscataquis County in north-central Maine. The Park was established by 28 donations of land, in Trust, from Park donor Percival P. Baxter between the years of 1931 and 1962, eventually creating a Park of...

 just south of Abol Bridge.

Park management strongly discourages thru-hiking within the park before May 15 or after October 15.

The AMC
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 maintains the AT from the New Hampshire border to Grafton Notch
Grafton Notch
Grafton Notch is a notch, or mountain pass, located in Oxford County, Maine.The notch demarks the northeastern end the Mahoosuc Range, and thus of the White Mountains....

, with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club responsible for maintaining the remaining miles to Mt. Katahdin.

Use in research


The Appalachian Trail has been a resource for researchers in a variety of disciplines. Portions of the trail in Tennessee were used on a study on trail maintenance for the Trail's "uniform environmental conditions and design attributes and substantial gradient in visitor use." Beginning in 2007, various citizen groups, including the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the American Hiking Society
American Hiking Society
The American Hiking Society is a Maryland-based non-profit dedicated to preserving trails, the areas that surround them and the hiking experience itself. It was co-founded in 1976 by Bill Kemsley, the founding editor of Backpacker...

, began a study to monitor environmental changes that have resulted from higher ozone levels, acid rain
Acid rain
Acid rain is a rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, meaning that it possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions . It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure. Acid rain is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen...

, smog
Smog
Smog is a type of air pollution; the word "smog" is a portmanteau of smoke and fog. Modern smog is a type of air pollution derived from vehicular emission from internal combustion engines and industrial fumes that react in the atmosphere with sunlight to form secondary pollutants that also combine...

, and other air quality factors. Such research has been supported by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

, the National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

, and Aveda Corporation.

Behavioral studies have also been conducted on hikers themselves. A 2007 study on hikers found that most persons hike the trail "for fun and enjoyment of life and for warm relationships with others" and that "that environmental awareness, physical challenge, camaraderie, exercise, and solitude" were chief results among hikers. Since the highest single demographic of thru-hikers are males between the ages of 18-29, one informal study sought to find the correlation between this group and male college drop-outs.

See also

  • Appalachian Development Highway System
    Appalachian Development Highway System
    The Appalachian Development Highway System is part of the Appalachian Regional Commission in the United States. See: .-History:...

     (ADHS) (in the eastern US)
  • Appalachian Trail by state
    Appalachian Trail by state
    The Appalachian National Scenic Trail spans fourteen U.S. states during its journey that is long, including Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine...

  • International Appalachian Trail
    International Appalachian Trail
    The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...


Additional U.S. long distance trails
  • Pacific Crest Trail
    Pacific Crest Trail
    The Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance mountain hiking and equestrian trail on the Western Seaboard of the United States. The southern terminus is at the California border with Mexico...

  • Continental Divide Trail
    Continental Divide Trail
    The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico...

  • North Country Trail
    North Country Trail
    The North Country National Scenic Trail , which stretches approximately from Crown Point in eastern New York to Lake Sakakawea in central North Dakota in the United States, is the longest of the eleven National Scenic Trails authorized by Congress...


Connected U.S. long distance trails
  • Allegheny Trail
    Allegheny Trail
    The Allegheny Trail is a hiking trail that passes through the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia, USA. It is the longest named trail in the state ....

  • Benton MacKaye Trail
    Benton MacKaye Trail
    The Benton MacKaye Trail or BMT is a footpath nearly in length in the Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States and is blazed by a white diamond, 5" across by 7" tall...

  • Horse Shoe Trail
    Horse Shoe Trail
    The Horse Shoe Trail is a trail that runs from the western edge of Valley Forge National Historical Park westward toward Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where it ends at the Appalachian Trail....

  • International Appalachian Trail
    International Appalachian Trail
    The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...

  • Long Trail
    Long Trail
    The Long Trail is a hiking trail located in Vermont, running the length of the state. It is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States, constructed between 1910 and 1930 by the Green Mountain Club...

  • Mason-Dixon Trail
    Mason-Dixon Trail
    The Mason Dixon Trail connects the Appalachian Trail with the Brandywine Trail, passing through Gifford Pinchot State Park and White Clay Creek Preserve in Pennsylvania and White Clay Creek State Park in Delaware.-External links:*...

  • Mountains-to-Sea Trail
    Mountains-to-Sea Trail
    The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a long-distance trail, for hiking and backpacking, that runs across North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. The trail's western endpoint is at Clingman's Dome, where it connects to the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National...

  • Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
    Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
    The Pinhoti Trail is a long-distance trail, long, locate in the United States within in the states Alabama and Georgia. The trail's southern terminus is on Flagg Mountain which is located near Weogufka, Alabama...

  • Virginia Creeper Trail
    Virginia Creeper Trail
    The Virginia Creeper Trail is a multi-purpose rail trail in southwestern Virginia. The trail runs from Abingdon to Whitetop, Virginia, near the North Carolina state line – through National Forest and crossing numerous restored trestles and crossing the Appalachian Trail.The trail descends...


Connected National Historic Trail
National Historic Trail
National Historic Trail is a designation for a protected area in the United States containing historic trails and surrounding areas. They are part of the National Trails System....

s
  • Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
    Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
    The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail is part of the U.S. National Trails System. It recognizes the Revolutionary War Overmountain Men, Patriots from what is now East Tennessee who crossed the Great Smoky Mountains and then fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain in South...


Further reading



  • ATC's official Appalachian Trail guide is the Thru-Hiker's Companion, compiled by volunteers of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) (available at AppalachianTrail.org).
  • The Official AT Databook, an annually updated compilation of trail mileages, water sources, road crossings, shelter locations, and other information.
  • The 2009 DataBook is the 31st annual edition, is considered indispensable by many AT hikers, and the data published within is used by many other hiking guides.[Backpack45.com "Appalachian Trail Guidebooks for the thru hiker."]
  • Also available through the ATC are individual state guidebooks and map sets.


Another annual guide book to the AT,The A.T. Guide by David Miller, incoporates several innovative features, including an elevation profile for the entire trail.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, is a marked hiking
Hiking
Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking...

 trail in the eastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 extending between Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County of northern Georgia. It is now the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.-Geography:The mountain's peak is at above mean sea level.-Appalachian Trail:...

 in Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 and Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin
Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine at . Named Katahdin by the Penobscot Indians, the term means "The Greatest Mountain". Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park: a steep, tall mountain formed from underground magma. The flora and fauna on the mountain are typical of those...

 in Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

. It is approximately 2181 miles (3,510 km) long. Along the way, the trail passes through the states of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

, New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, and Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

. The path is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, and managed by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

. The majority of the trail is in wilderness
Wilderness
Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...

, although some portions traverse towns and roads, and cross rivers.

The Appalachian Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers
Thru-hiking
Thru-hiking is the process of hiking a long-distance trail from end to end. The term is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail, but is also used for other lengthy trails and long distance hikes, including the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. Thru-hiking is also...

, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season. Many books, memoirs, web sites and fan organizations are dedicated to this pursuit.

An unofficial extension known as the International Appalachian Trail
International Appalachian Trail
The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...

, continues north into Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and to the end of the range, where it enters the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

.

The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail
Continental Divide Trail
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico...

 and the Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance mountain hiking and equestrian trail on the Western Seaboard of the United States. The southern terminus is at the California border with Mexico...

 form what is known as the Triple Crown
Triple Crown of Hiking
The Triple Crown of Hiking informally refers to the three major U.S. long distance hiking trails:* Pacific Crest Trail - long, Washington, Oregon, and California between Mexico and Canada following the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range....

 of long distance hiking in the United States.

History


The trail was conceived by Benton MacKaye
Benton MacKaye
Benton MacKaye was an American forester, planner and conservationist. He was born in Stamford, Connecticut; his father was actor and dramatist Steele MacKaye. After studying forestry at Harvard University , Benton later taught there for several years. He joined a number of Federal bureaus and...

, a forester who wrote his original plan shortly after the death of his wife in 1921. MacKaye's idea detailed a grand trail that would connect a series of farms and wilderness work/study camps for city-dwellers. In 1922, at the suggestion of Major William A. Welch
William A. Welch
Major William Addams Welch was an American engineer and environmentalist who would have a major impact on the state and national park systems of the United States...

, director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Palisades Interstate Park and its creator, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, was formed in 1900 by governors Theodore Roosevelt of New York and Foster M. Voorhees of New Jersey in response to the destruction of the Palisades by quarry operators in the late 19th century...

, his idea was publicized by Raymond H. Torrey
Raymond H. Torrey
Raymond Hezekiah Torrey was the author of weekly columns, Outings and The Long Brown Path in the New York Evening Post in the 1920s and 1930s. The column played a major role in the development of the Appalachian Trail, the Long Path and the popularity of hiking generally...

 with a story in the New York Evening Post under a full-page banner headline reading "A Great Trail from Maine to Georgia!" The idea was quickly adopted by the new Palisades Interstate Park Trail Conference as their main project.

On October 7, 1923, the first section of the trail, from Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park is located on the west side of the Hudson River in Orange and Rockland counties of New York. The park offers biking, hiking, boating, picnicking, swimming, cross-country skiing, cross-country running, sledding and ice skating...

 west through Harriman State Park to Arden, New York
Arden, New York
Arden, is a hamlet around the town line of Tuxedo and Monroe, New York, in the United States. It is roughly coterminous with the 10910 ZIP Code....

, was opened. MacKaye then called for a two-day Appalachian Trail conference to be held in March 1925 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 This resulted in the formation of the Appalachian Trail Conference
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

 (now called the Appalachian Trail Conservancy).

A retired judge named Arthur Perkins
Arthur Perkins (Connecticut Judge)
Arthur Perkins was an American lawyer and judge from Hartford, Connecticut who, during his retirement, spearheaded the effort to make Benton MacKaye's vision of the Appalachian Trail—a proposed 2,000-mile contiguous footpath to run through fourteen states—a reality.Perkins appointed himself acting...

 and his younger associate Myron Avery
Myron Avery
Myron Haliburton Avery was an American lawyer, hiker and explorer. Born in Lubec, Maine, Avery was a protégé of Judge Arthur Perkins and a collaborator and sometimes rival of Benton MacKaye. He was president of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club from 1927 to 1941 and chairman of the Appalachian...

 took up the cause. In 1929, Perkins, who was also a member of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association
Connecticut Forest and Park Association
The Connecticut Forest and Park Association , established in 1895, is the oldest private, nonprofit conservation organization in Connecticut. The organization is credited as an important early pioneer of the national land conservation movement and as an early advocate of long distance trail building...

 and its Blue Blazed Trails committee, found Ned Anderson
Nestell Kipp Anderson
Nestell Kipp "Ned" Anderson was an American farmer who spearheaded Connecticut's leg of the Appalachian Trail, which currently runs for 50 miles through the northwest corner of the state...

, a farmer in Sherman, Connecticut
Sherman, Connecticut
Sherman is the northernmost and least populous town of Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 3,581 at the 2010 census. The town is named for New Haven's Founding Father, Roger Sherman....

, who took on the task of mapping and blazing the Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 leg of the trail (1929–1933). It ran from Dog Tail Corners in Webatuck, New York
Dover, New York
Dover is a town in Dutchess County, New York, United States. The population was 8,565 at the 2000 census. The town was named after Dover in England, the home town of an early settler....

, which borders Kent, Connecticut
Kent, Connecticut
Kent is a town in Litchfield County, Connecticut, alongside the border with New York. The population was 2,858 at the 2000 census. The town is home to three New England boarding schools: South Kent School, Kent School and The Marvelwood School. The Schaghticoke Indian Reservation is also located...

, at Ashley Falls, 50 miles (80.5 km) through the northwest corner of the state, up to Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain (Connecticut)
Bear Mountain, is prominent peak of the southern Taconic Mountains. It lies within the town of Salisbury, Connecticut, in the United States, and is the highest mountain summit in the state of Connecticut. The highest point in the state, however, is located on the south slope of Mount Frissell to...

 at the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 border. (A portion of the Connecticut trail has since been rerouted [1979-83] to be more scenic, adhering less to highways and more to wilderness, and includes a Ned K. Anderson Memorial Bridge.)

Anderson’s efforts helped spark renewed interest in the trail, and Avery (leading the charge since Perkins’ death in 1932) was able to bring other states onboard. Upon taking over the ATC, Avery adopted the more practical goal of building a simple hiking trail. He and MacKaye clashed over the ATC's response to a major commercial development along the trail's path; MacKaye left the organization, while Avery was willing to simply reroute the trail. Avery reigned as Chairman of the ATC from 1932 to 1952 (he died that same year).

Avery became the first to walk the trail end-to-end, though not as a thru-hike
Thru-hiking
Thru-hiking is the process of hiking a long-distance trail from end to end. The term is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail, but is also used for other lengthy trails and long distance hikes, including the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. Thru-hiking is also...

, in 1936. In August 1937, the trail was completed to Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain (Franklin County, Maine)
Sugarloaf Mountain is a mountain located in Franklin County, Maine. It is the second highest mountain in the state, after Mount Katahdin. Sugarloaf is flanked to the south by Spaulding Mountain....

 in Maine, and the ATC shifted its focus toward protecting the trail lands and mapping the trail for hikers. From 1938 to the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the trail suffered a series of natural and man-made setbacks. At the end of the war, the damage to the trail was repaired.

In 1948, Earl Shaffer
Earl Shaffer
Earl V. Shaffer , was an American outdoorsman and author known from 1948 as The Crazy One for attempting what became the first documented hiking trip over the entire length of the Appalachian Trail...

 of York, Pennsylvania
York, Pennsylvania
York, known as the White Rose City , is a city located in York County, Pennsylvania, United States which is in the South Central region of the state. The population within the city limits was 43,718 at the 2010 census, which was a 7.0% increase from the 2000 count of 40,862...

, brought a great deal of attention to the project by completing the first documented thru-hike. Later Shaffer also completed the first north-to-south thru-hike, making him the first to do so in each direction. In 1998 Mr. Shaffer, nearly 80 years old, again hiked the entirety of the trail, making him the oldest person ever to complete a thru-hike.

In 1994, a story appeared in the Appalachian Trailway News describing a 121-day Maine to Georgia thru-hike in 1936 by six Boy Scouts
Scouting in New York
Scouting in New York has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live...

 from the Bronx. Although the story has been accepted by some members of ALDHA, a great deal of doubt has also been expressed and this earlier thru-hike has never been verified. Shaffer's 1948 journey is still generally recognized as the first A.T. thru-hike.

In the 1960s, the ATC made progress toward protecting the trail from development, thanks to efforts of politicians and officials. The National Trails System Act of 1968 designated the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail as the first national scenic trails and paved the way for a series of National Scenic Trail
National Scenic Trail
National Scenic Trail is a designation for protected areas in the United States that consist of trails of particular natural beauty.National Scenic Trails were authorized under the National Trails System Act of 1968 along with National Historic Trails and National Recreation Trails...

s within the National Park and National Forest systems. Trail volunteers worked with the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 to map a permanent route for the trail, and by 1971 a permanent route had been marked (though minor changes continue to this day). By the close of the 20th century, the Park Service had completed the purchase of all but a few miles of the trail's span.

Extensions


The International Appalachian Trail
International Appalachian Trail
The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...

 is a 1900 miles (3,057.7 km) unofficial extension running north from Maine into New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

 and Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

. It is a separate trail, not an official extension of the Appalachian Trail. A further extension to Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

 has recently been completed.

In 2010, a group of geologists representing the International Appalachian Trail began a push to extend the trail across the Atlantic Ocean, across Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 in the North Atlantic and into Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

, then down to the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

 of Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

.

In 2008, the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
The Pinhoti Trail is a long-distance trail, long, locate in the United States within in the states Alabama and Georgia. The trail's southern terminus is on Flagg Mountain which is located near Weogufka, Alabama...

 in Alabama and Georgia was connected to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail via the Benton MacKaye Trail
Benton MacKaye Trail
The Benton MacKaye Trail or BMT is a footpath nearly in length in the Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States and is blazed by a white diamond, 5" across by 7" tall...

. Promoters of the Southern extension refer to MacKaye's statement at the 1925 conference that the Georgia to New Hampshire trail should, in the future, extend to Katahdin, and "then to Birmingham, Alabama". The Pinhoti Trail now terminates at Flagg Mountain, near Weogufka in Coosa County
Coosa County, Alabama
Coosa County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. Its name derives from a town of the Creek tribe. As of 2010 the population was 11,539, but since that time it has lost the most population by percentage of any Alabama county...

, 50 miles (80.5 km) east of Birmingham.

Flora and fauna


The Appalachian Trail is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, including 2,000 distinct rare, threatened, endangered, and sensitive plant and animal species.

Animals


The American black bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

 (Ursus americanus) is the largest omnivore that may be encountered on the trail, and it inhabits all regions of the Appalachians. Bear sightings on the trail are uncommon, and confrontations rarer still.
Other hazards include venomous snakes, including the Eastern timber rattlesnake
Crotalus horridus
Crotalus horridus, the timber rattlesnake, is a species of venomous pitviper found in the eastern United States. This is the only rattlesnake species in most of the populous northeastern United States. No subspecies are currently recognized....

 and copperhead
Agkistrodon contortrix
Agkistrodon contortrix is a species of venomous snake found in North America, a member of the Crotalinae subfamily. The more common name for the species is "copperhead". The behavior of Agkistrodon contortrix may lead to accidental encounters with humans...

, which are common along the trail. Both snakes are generally found in drier, rockier sections of the trail; the copperhead's range extends north to around the New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

-New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 state line, while rattlesnakes are commonly found along the trail in Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 and have been reported, although rarely, as far north as New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

. Other large mammals commonly sighted include deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

; elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

, reintroduced in the Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains or the...

; and moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

, which live as far south as Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 but are more commonly seen in northern New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

.
For most hikers, the most persistent pests along the trail are mice
MICE
-Fiction:*Mice , alien species in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy*The Mice -Acronyms:* "Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions", facilities terminology for events...

, which inhabit shelters, and bugs, which include tick
Tick
Ticks are small arachnids in the order Ixodida, along with mites, constitute the subclass Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites , living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians...

s, mosquito
Mosquito
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematocerid flies: the Culicidae . The word Mosquito is from the Spanish and Portuguese for little fly...

s, and black flies.

Plants


Plant life along the trail is varied. The trail passes through several different biomes from south to north, and the climate changes significantly, particularly dependent upon elevation. In the south, lowland forests consist mainly of second-growth; nearly the entire trail has been logged at one time or another. There are, however, a few old growth locations along the trail, such as Sages Ravine straddling the Massachusetts-Connecticut border and atop higher peaks along the trail on either side of the same border, the Hopper (a glacial cirque westward of the trail as it traverses Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts), and "The Hermitage", near Gulf Hagas in Maine. In the south, the forest is dominated by hardwoods, including oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 and tulip trees
Liriodendron tulipifera
Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar or yellow poplar, is the Western Hemisphere representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron, and the tallest eastern hardwood...

, also known as yellow poplar. Further north, tulip trees are gradually replaced by maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

s and birch
Birch
Birch is a tree or shrub of the genus Betula , in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. The Betula genus contains 30–60 known taxa...

es. Oaks begin to disappear in Massachusetts. By Vermont, the lowland forest is made up of maples, birch and beech
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

, which provide spectacular foliage displays for hikers in September and October. While the vast majority of lowland forest south of the White Mountains
White Mountains (New Hampshire)
The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England...

 is hardwood, many areas have some coniferous trees as well, and in Maine, these often grow at low elevations.

There is a drastic change between the lowland and subalpine
Subalpine
The subalpine zone is the biotic zone immediately below tree line around the world. Species that occur in this zone depend on the location of the zone on the Earth, for example, Snow Gum in Australia, or Subalpine Larch, Mountain Hemlock and Subalpine Fir in western North America.Trees in the...

, evergreen
Evergreen
In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs...

 forest, as well as another, higher break, at tree line, above which only hardy alpine plants grow. The sub-alpine region is far more prevalent along the trail than true alpine conditions. While it mainly exists in the north, a few mountains in the south have subalpine environments, which are typically coated in an ecosystem known as the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest
Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest
The Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest is a type of montane coniferous forest that grows in the highest elevations in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States...

. Southern ranges and mountains where sub-alpine environments occur include the Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains or the...

, where sub-alpine environments only begin around 6000 feet (1,828.8 m) in elevation, Roan Highlands on the North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

-Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 border, where sub-alpine growth descends below 6000 feet (1,828.8 m), and Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

 and the Grayson Highlands in Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, where there is some alpine growth above 5000 feet (1,524 m). Appalachian balds
Appalachian balds
In the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States, balds are mountain summits or crests covered primarily by thick vegetation of native grasses or shrubs occurring in areas where heavy forest growth would be expected....

 are also found in the Southern highlands, and are believed to occur due to fires or grazing in recent centuries, or in some cases due to thin, sandy soils. Several balds are sprouting trees, and on some, the National Forest
United States National Forest
National Forest is a classification of federal lands in the United States.National Forests are largely forest and woodland areas owned by the federal government and managed by the United States Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture. Land management of these areas...

 service actually mows the grasses periodically in order to keep the balds free of trees.

Topography


No sub-alpine regions exist between Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

 in Virginia and Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in Massachusetts at . Its peak is located in the northwest corner of the state in the western part of the town of Adams in Berkshire County. Although geologically part of the Taconic Mountains, Mount Greylock is commonly associated with the abutting...

 in Massachusetts, mainly because the trail stays below 3000 feet (914.4 m) from Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

 in Virginia to Mount Greylock. Mount Greylock, however, has a large subalpine region, the only such forest in Massachusetts, extending down to 3000 feet (914.4 m), which in the south would be far from the sub-alpine cutoff. This is especially low because Greylock is exposed to prevailing westerly winds, as the summits along its ridgeline rise approximately 200 feet (61 m) to 650 feet (198.1 m) higher than any other peak in Massachusetts. Further north, several peaks in Vermont reach into the sub-alpine zone, the bottom of which steadily descends as one proceeds northward, so that by the White Mountains
White Mountains (New Hampshire)
The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England...

 in New Hampshire, it often occurs well below 3000 feet (914.4 m). At Mount Moosilauke, which summits at 4802 feet (1,463.6 m), the first alpine
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

 environment on the trail is reached, where only thin, sporadic flora is interspersed with bare rocks. Between the two regions is the krummholz
Krummholz
Krummholz or Krumholtz formation — also called Knieholz — is a particular feature of subarctic and subalpine tree line landscapes. Continual exposure to fierce, freezing winds causes vegetation to become stunted and deformed...

 region, where stunted trees grow with their branches oriented away from the winter's prevailing northwest wind, thus giving the appearance of flags (they are often called "flag trees"). This region resembles lowland terrain hundreds of miles north in Canada. It also contains many endangered and threatened species. The trail has been rerouted over New Hampshire's Presidential Range
Presidential Range
The Presidential Range is a mountain range located in the White Mountains of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Containing the highest peaks of the Whites, its most notable summits are named for American Presidents, followed by prominent public figures of the 18th and 19th centuries.Mt...

 so the Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 can protect certain plant life. The alpine cutoff in the Whites is generally between 4200 feet (1,280.2 m) and 4800 feet (1,463 m). Mountains traversed by the AT above treeline include Mount Moosilauke, several miles along the Franconia Range
Franconia Range
The Franconia Range is a mountain range located in the White Mountains of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. It is the second-highest range of peaks in the White Mountains....

 and along the Presidential Range
Presidential Range
The Presidential Range is a mountain range located in the White Mountains of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Containing the highest peaks of the Whites, its most notable summits are named for American Presidents, followed by prominent public figures of the 18th and 19th centuries.Mt...

. In the Presidentials, the trail climbs as high as 6288 feet (1,916.6 m) on Mount Washington
Mount Washington (New Hampshire)
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at , famous for dangerously erratic weather. For 76 years, a weather observatory on the summit held the record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth's surface, , on the afternoon of April 12, 1934...

 and spends about 13 miles (20.9 km) continuously above treeline, in the largest alpine environment in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

.

In Maine, the trail extends into even harsher environments, and sub-alpine and alpine growth descends to lower elevations. Alpine growth in the state ranges from around 2500 feet (762 m) in the Mahoosuc Range to below 1000 feet (304.8 m) in parts of the Hundred-Mile Wilderness, where nearly every area higher than 1000 feet (304.8 m) is evergreen forest. These forests include more species of evergreen, as well. In addition to the white pine
Eastern White Pine
Pinus strobus, commonly known as the eastern white pine, is a large pine native to eastern North America, occurring from Newfoundland west to Minnesota and southeastern Manitoba, and south along the Appalachian Mountains to the northern edge of Georgia.It is occasionally known as simply white pine,...

, spruce
Spruce
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea , a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical...

 and hemlock
Tsuga
Tsuga is a genus of conifers in the family Pinaceae. The common name hemlock is derived from a perceived similarity in the smell of its crushed foliage to that of the unrelated plant poison hemlock....

 prevalent further south, Maine has many cedar trees along the trail. Near the northern terminus, there are even some tamarack (larch), a coniferous, pine-needled deciduous tree, which provides displays of yellow in the late fall after the birches and maples have gone bare. The hemlocks in Maine are also notable, as the woolly adelgid
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
Hemlock woolly adelgid , commonly abbreviated as HWA, is a true bug native to East Asia that feeds by sucking sap from hemlock trees . In eastern North America, it is a destructive pest that poses a major threat to the eastern hemlock and the Carolina hemlock...

, which has ravaged populations further south, has not come into the state yet, and may be unable to make it so far north due to the cold climate.

Maine also has several alpine regions. In addition to several areas of the Mahoosuc Range, the Baldpates and Old Blue in southern Maine have alpine characteristics despite elevations below 4000 feet (1,219.2 m). Saddleback Mountain
Saddleback Mountain (Rangeley, Maine)
Saddleback Mountain is a mountain located in Rangeley, Franklin County, Maine.Saddleback is one of the highest mountains in the State of Maine, and one of the fourteen with more than of topographic prominence. The mountain is the site of Saddleback ski resort.Saddleback is flanked to the northeast...

 and Mount Bigelow
Mount Bigelow (Maine)
Mount Bigelow is a long mountain ridge with several summits. It is located in Franklin County and Somerset County, Maine. It is one of Maine's highest summits...

, further north, each only extend a bit above 4000 feet (1,219.2 m), but have long alpine areas, with no tree growth on the summits and unobstructed views on clear days. From Mount Bigelow, the trail extends for 150 miles (241.4 km) with only a small area of alpine growth around 3500 feet (1,066.8 m) on the summit of White Cap Mountain
White Cap Mountain (Piscataquis County, Maine)
White Cap Mountain is a mountain located in Piscataquis County, Maine.White Cap Mtn. is flanked to the east by Hay Mountain, to the south by Big Spruce Mountain and to the southeast by Little Spruce Mountain.White Cap Mtn...

. Mount Katahdin, the second largest alpine environment in the eastern United States, has several square miles of alpine area on the flat "table land" summit as well as the cliffs and aretes
Arete
Areté is the term meaning "virtue" or "excellence", from Greek ἈρετήArete may also be used:*as a given name of persons or things:**Queen Arete , a character in Homer's Odyssey.***197 Arete, an asteroid....

 leading up to it. Treeline on Mount Katahdin is only around 3500 feet (1,066.8 m). This elevation in Massachusetts would barely be a sub-alpine region, and, south of Virginia, consists of lowland forest. This illustrates the drastic change in climate over 2000 miles (3,218.7 km).

Despite the alpine environments well below 5000 feet (1,524 m) in New Hampshire and Maine, some higher places further south are not alpine. Examples include Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald is a high-altitude treeless open area in Nantahala National Forest, near Franklin, North Carolina. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area's highest point ; the stone observation tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 for fire detection.The...

 in North Carolina 5342 feet (1,628.2 m) and Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an elevation of , it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail...

 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North...

 6643 feet (2,024.8 m).

Hiking the trail


As the Appalachian Trail was explicitly designed to be hiked, it includes resources to facilitate hikers. Some are common to trails throughout North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, while some are unique to the Appalachian Trail. The trail is much more frequently hiked south to north (i.e. Georgia to Maine) than vice versa. Hikers typically begin in March or April and finish in late summer or early to late fall of that particular year (or, in the case of southbound hikers, June to March).

Navigation


Throughout its length, the AT is marked by 2-by-6-inch (5-by-15-cm) white paint blazes
Trail blazing
Trail blazing, or trailblazing, is the practice of marking paths in outdoor recreational areas with blazes, markings that follow each other at certain — though not necessarily exactly defined — distances and mark the direction of the trail...

. Side trails to shelters, viewpoints and parking areas use similarly shaped blue blazes. In past years, some sections of the trail also used metal diamond markers with the AT logo, few of which survive.

Lodging and camping


The trail has more than 250 shelters and campsites available for hikers. The shelters, sometimes called lean-tos (in Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut), huts (in Shenandoah National Park) or Adirondack shelters, are generally open, three-walled structures with a wooden floor, although some shelters are much more complex in structure. Shelters are usually spaced a day's hike or less apart, most often near a water source (which may be dry) and with a privy
Outhouse
An outhouse is a small structure separate from a main building which often contained a simple toilet and may possibly also be used for housing animals and storage.- Terminology :...

. They generally have spaces for tent sites in the vicinity. The Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 (AMC) operates a system of eight huts
High Huts of the White Mountains
The High Huts of the White Mountains are a series of eight mountain huts in the White Mountains, in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, owned and maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Modeled after similar huts in the Alps, they are positioned at intervals along the Appalachian Trail, allowing...

 along 56 miles (90.1 km) of New Hampshire's White Mountains. These huts are significantly larger than standard trail shelters and offer full-service lodging and meals during the summer months. The Fontana Dam Shelter in North Carolina, is more commonly referred to as the Fontana Hilton because of amenities (e.g. flush toilets) and its proximity to an all-you-can-eat buffet and post office. Several AMC huts have an extended self-service season during the fall, with two extending self-service seasons through the winter and spring. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, or ', is a volunteer organization that works to maintain hiking trails in the Washington D.C. area...

 maintains trail cabins, shelters, and huts throughout the Shenandoah region
Shenandoah Valley AVA
The Shenandoah Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginia. The valley is bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Appalachian and Allegheny Plateaus to the west. Most of the AVA is in Virignia, with a small portion in...

 of Virginia.

Shelters are generally maintained by local volunteers. Almost all shelters have one or more pre-hung food hangers (generally consisting of a short nylon cord with an upside-down tuna can suspended halfway down its length) where hikers can hang their food bags to keep them out of the reach of rodents. In hiker lingo, these are sometimes called "mouse trapezes."

In addition to official shelters, many people offer their homes, places of business, or inns to accommodate AT hikers. One example is the Little Lyford Pond camps
Little Lyford Pond camps
-Early history:The camps were opened in 1874, bordering the West Branch of the Pleasant River in northern Maine in the United States. They included a maine lodge and 13 cabins as well as satellite camps for housing loggers. The camps are a 2.2 mile hike from Gulf Hagas and a 5.2 mile hike from the...

 maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

. Inns are more common in sections of the trail that coincide with national parks, most notably Virginia's Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

.

Trail towns



The trail crosses many roads, thus providing ample opportunity for hikers to hitchhike into town for food and other supplies. Many trail towns are accustomed to hikers passing through, and thus many have hotel
Hotel
A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. The provision of basic accommodation, in times past, consisting only of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with modern facilities, including en-suite bathrooms...

s and hiker-oriented accommodations. Some of the most well-known trail towns are Hot Springs, North Carolina
Hot Springs, North Carolina
Hot Springs is a town in Madison County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 645 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Hot Springs is located at ....

; Erwin, Tennessee
Erwin, Tennessee
Erwin is a town in and the county seat of Unicoi County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 5,610 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area...

; Damascus, Virginia
Damascus, Virginia
Damascus is a town in Washington County, Virginia, United States. The population was 981 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Kingsport–Bristol –Bristol Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical...

; Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States. In many books the town is called "Harper's Ferry" with an apostrophe....

; Duncannon, Pennsylvania
Duncannon, Pennsylvania
Duncannon is a borough in Perry County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1,508 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area. The center of population of Pennsylvania is located in Duncannon. It is named after the coastal town of...

; Port Clinton, Pennsylvania
Port Clinton, Pennsylvania
Port Clinton is a borough in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 288 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Port Clinton is located at ....

; Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover is a town along the Connecticut River in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 11,260 at the 2010 census. CNN and Money magazine rated Hanover the sixth best place to live in America in 2011, and the second best in 2007....

; and Monson, Maine
Monson, Maine
Monson is a town in Piscataquis County, Maine, United States. As of the 2000 census, the town had a population of 666. The town is located on Route 15 which is a somewhat major route north to the well known Moosehead Lake Region, to which Monson is sometimes considered a gateway...

. In the areas of the trail closer to trail towns, many hikers have experienced what is sometimes called "trail magic," or assistance from strangers through kind actions, gifts, and other forms of encouragement. Trail magic is sometimes done anonymously. In other instances, persons have provided food and cooked for hikers at a campsite.

Hazards


The Appalachian Trail is relatively safe. Most injuries or incidents are consistent with comparable outdoor activities. Most hazards are related to weather conditions, human error, plants, animals, diseases, and fellow humans encountered along the trail.

Many animals live around the trail, with bears, snakes, and wild boars posing the greatest threat to human safety. Several rodent- and bug-borne illnesses are also a potential hazard. In scattered instances, fox
Fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

es, raccoon
Raccoon
Procyon is a genus of nocturnal mammals, comprising three species commonly known as raccoons, in the family Procyonidae. The most familiar species, the common raccoon , is often known simply as "the" raccoon, as the two other raccoon species in the genus are native only to the tropics and are...

s, and other small animals may bite hikers, posing risk of rabies
Rabies
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic , most commonly by a bite from an infected animal. For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms...

 and other diseases. There has been one reported case (in 1993) of hantavirus
Hantavirus
Hantaviruses are negative sense RNA viruses in the Bunyaviridae family. Humans may be infected with hantaviruses through rodent bites, urine, saliva or contact with rodent waste products...

 (HPS), a rare but dangerous rodent-borne disease affecting the lungs. The afflicted hiker recovered and hiked the trail the following year.

The section of the trail that runs through the Mid-Atlantic and New England states have a very high population of Deer Ticks carrying Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, and represents the highest density of reported Lyme Disease in the country. Hikers should understand the risks, and take appropriate precautions.

Plant life can create its own brand of problems. Poison ivy
Poison ivy
Toxicodendron radicans, better known as poison ivy , is a poisonous North American plant that is well known for its production of urushiol, a clear liquid compound found within the sap of the plant that causes an itching rash in most people who touch it...

 is common the length of the trail, and more plentiful in the South.

Hiking season of the trail generally starts in mid to late spring, when conditions are much more favorable in the South. However, this time may also be characterized by extreme heat, sometimes in excess of 100 °F (37.8 °C). Under such conditions, hydration is imperative. Light clothing and sunscreens are a must at high elevations and areas without foliage, even in relatively cool weather.

Further north and at higher elevations, the weather can be intensely cold, characterized by low temperatures, strong winds, hail or snow storms and reduced visibility. Prolonged rain, though not typically life-threatening, can undermine stamina and ruin supplies.

Violent crime
Violent crime
A violent crime or crime of violence is a crime in which the offender uses or threatens to use violent force upon the victim. This entails both crimes in which the violent act is the objective, such as murder, as well as crimes in which violence is the means to an end, such as robbery. Violent...

, including murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

, has occurred on the trail in a few instances. Most have been crimes by non-hikers who crossed paths relatively randomly with the AT hiker-victims. The official website of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy points out that the number of violent crimes is extremely low when compared against the number of people (3 to 4 million) who hike on the trail every year.

The first reported homicide on the trail was in 1974 in Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. In 1981, the issue of violence on the Appalachian Trail received national attention when Robert Mountford Jr. and Laura Susan Ramsay, both social workers in Ellsworth, Maine
Ellsworth, Maine
Ellsworth is a city in and the county seat of Hancock County, Maine, United States. The 2010 Census determined it had a population of 7,741. Ellsworth was Maine's fastest growing city from 2000-2010 with a growth rate of nearly 20 percent...

, were murdered by Randall Lee Smith
Randall Lee Smith
Randall Lee Smith was a convicted murderer from Pearisburg, Virginia. He pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Robert Mountford Jr. and Laura Susan Ramsay, who were killed while hiking the Appalachian Trail, in May 1981...

. Another homicide occurred in May 1996, when two women were abducted, bound and murdered near the trail in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

. The primary suspect was later discovered harassing a female bicycler in the vicinity, but charges against him were dropped, and the case remains unsolved.

Trail completion


Trail hikers who attempt to complete the entire trail in a single season are called "thru-hikers"; those who traverse the trail during a series of separate trips are known as "section-hikers". Rugged terrain, weather extremes, freedom from illness or injury, and the desire to commit the time and effort required make thru-hiking difficult to accomplish.

Traditionally, only about 10% to 15% of those who make the attempt report to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy that they completed it. However, since 2001, the number of people starting out in Georgia to do a thru-hike (or at least registering to do so) has dropped considerably, yet the number of people reporting that they have completed a thru-hike has remained approximately the same. This has resulted in an apparent increase in the completion rate to 29% (as of 2006).

A thru-hike generally requires five to seven months, although some have done it in three months, and several trail runners have completed the trail in less time. Trail runners
Trail running
Trail running is a variant on running that differs markedly from road running and track running. Trail running generally takes place on hiking trails, most commonly single track trails, although fire roads are not uncommon. A distinguishing characteristic of the trails is that they are often...

 typically tackle the AT with automobile support teams, without backpacks, and without camping in the woods.

The current speed record for thru-hiking the AT was set by Jennifer Pharr Davis
Jennifer Pharr Davis
Jennifer Pharr Davis is an American long distance hiker. She currently holds the unofficial record for the fastest thru hike of the Appalachian Trail with a time of 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, set on July 31, 2011....

 in 2011, at 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. Pharr Davis made the trip southbound, from mid June to late July.

Thru-hikers are classified into many informal groups. "Purists" are hikers who stick to the official AT trail, follow the white blazes, except for side trips to shelters and camp sites. "Blue Blazers" cut miles from the full route by taking side trails marked by blue blazes. The generally pejorative name "Yellow Blazers," a reference to yellow road stripes, is given to those who hitchhike to move down the trail. There are also those who hike the entire trail in sections known as "section hikers" as opposed to those who hike the whole trail as one course.

Most thru-hikers walk northward from Georgia to Maine, and generally start out in early spring and follow the warm weather as it moves north. These "north-bounders" are also called NOBO (NOrthBOund) or GAME (Georgia(GA)-to-Maine(ME)), while those heading in the opposite direction are termed "south-bounders" (also SOBO or MEGA).

Part of hiker subculture includes making colorful entries in logbooks at trail shelters, signed using pseudonyms called trail names
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy gives the name "2000 Miler" to anyone who completes the entire trail. The ATC's recognition policy for "2000 Milers" gives equal recognition to thru-hikers and section-hikers, operates on the honor system, and recognizes blue-blazed trails or officially required roadwalks as substitutes for the official, white-blazed route during an emergency such as a flood, forest fire, or impending storm on an exposed, high-elevation stretch. As of 2010, more than 11,000 people had reported completing the entire trail. About three-quarters of these are thru-hikers.

The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail
Continental Divide Trail
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico...

 and the Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance mountain hiking and equestrian trail on the Western Seaboard of the United States. The southern terminus is at the California border with Mexico...

 form what is known as the Triple Crown
Triple Crown of Hiking
The Triple Crown of Hiking informally refers to the three major U.S. long distance hiking trails:* Pacific Crest Trail - long, Washington, Oregon, and California between Mexico and Canada following the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range....

 of long distance hiking in the United States. In 2001, Brian Robinson
Brian Robinson (hiker)
Brian Robinson is the first to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail in one year, a feat that means he hiked a total of over 7,000 miles....

 became the first one to complete all three trails in a year.

Route




The trail is currently protected along more than 99% of its course by federal or state ownership of the land or by right-of-way
Easement
An easement is a certain right to use the real property of another without possessing it.Easements are helpful for providing pathways across two or more pieces of property or allowing an individual to fish in a privately owned pond...

. The trail is maintained by a variety of citizen organizations, environmental advocacy groups, governmental agencies and individuals. Annually, more than 4,000 volunteers contribute over 175,000 hours of effort on the Appalachian Trail, an effort coordinated largely by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

 (ATC) organization. In total, the AT passes through eight national forests and two national parks.

In the course of its journey, the trail follows the ridgeline of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

, crossing many of its highest peaks, and running, with only a few exceptions, almost continuously through wilderness
Wilderness
Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...

. The trail used to traverse many hundreds of miles of private property; currently 99% of the trail is on public land.



Georgia



Georgia has 75 miles (120 km) of the trail, including the southern terminus at Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain
Springer Mountain is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County of northern Georgia. It is now the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.-Geography:The mountain's peak is at above mean sea level.-Appalachian Trail:...

 at an elevation of 3,280 feet (992 m). At 4,461 feet (1360 m), Blood Mountain
Blood Mountain
Blood Mountain is the highest peak on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail and the sixth-tallest mountain in Georgia, with an elevation of . It is located on the border of Lumpkin County with Union County and is within the boundaries of the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Blood...

 is the highest point on the trail in Georgia. The AT and approach trail, along with many miles of blue blazed side trails, are managed and maintained by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club
Georgia Appalachian Trail Club
The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was organized in 1930 in Dahlonega, GA. Its membership consists of individual volunteers who share a love for the Appalachian Trail ....

. See also: Georgia Peaks on the Appalachian Trail.

North Carolina



North Carolina has 88 miles (142 km) of the trail, not including more than 200 miles (325 km) along the Tennessee Border. Altitude ranges from 1,725 to 5,498 feet (525 m to 1676 m). The trail enters from Georgia at Bly Gap, ascending peaks such as Standing Indian Mountain
Standing Indian Mountain
Standing Indian Mountain, elevation 5,499 feet, is part of the North Carolina portion of the Southern Nantahala Wilderness within the boundaries of the Nantahala National Forest...

, Mt. Albert
Mount Albert (North Carolina)
Mount Albert is a mountain in North Carolina's Nantahala Range of the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Trail goes along its summit, which is high. A fire tower offers views of the Blue Ridge and the Little Tennessee River valley....

, and Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald is a high-altitude treeless open area in Nantahala National Forest, near Franklin, North Carolina. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area's highest point ; the stone observation tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 for fire detection.The...

. It then goes by Nantahala Outdoor Center
Nantahala Outdoor Center
The Nantahala Outdoor Center is a commercial outdoor guide service and retail store. It opened in 1972 when Payson and Aurelia Kennedy and Horace Holden Sr. took over the old Tote 'N Tarry Motel. NOC is based in western North Carolina near Bryson City, near the Great Smoky Mountains on the...

 at the Nantahala River Gorge and the Nantahala River
Nantahala River
The Nantahala River is a river in western North Carolina in the United States, within the Nantahala National Forest, and near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Two-lane U.S...

 crossing. Up to this point, the trail is maintained by the Nantahala Hiking Club. Beyond this point, it is maintained by the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club. 30 miles (48.3 km) further north, Fontana Dam
Fontana Dam
Fontana Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Little Tennessee River in Swain and Graham counties, North Carolina, USA. The dam is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which built the dam in the early 1940s to accommodate the skyrocketing electricity demands in the Tennessee Valley at the...

 marks the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North...

.

Tennessee



Tennessee has 71 miles (114 km) of the trail, not including more than 200 miles (325 km) along or near the North Carolina Border. The section that runs just below the summit of Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an elevation of , it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the Appalachian Trail...

 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The border between Tennessee and North...

 is along the North Carolina and Tennessee border and is the highest point on the trail at 6,643 feet (2019 m). The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club (Knoxville, TN) maintains the trail throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Davenport Gap. North of Davenport Gap, the Carolina Mountain Club (Asheville, NC) maintains the trail to Spivey Gap. Then the remaining Tennessee section is maintained by the Tennessee Eastman Hiking & Canoeing Club (Kingsport, TN).

Virginia


Virginia has 550 miles (885 km) of the trail, including about 20 miles (32 km) along the West Virginia border. With the climate, and the timing of northbound hikers, this section is wet and challenging because of the spring thaw and heavy spring rainfall. Substantial portions closely parallel the Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. It runs for 469 miles , mostly along the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains...

 and, in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east...

, the Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive is a 105-mile road that runs the entire length of the National Park Service's Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, generally along the ridge of the mountains. The scenic drive is particularly popular in the fall when the leaves are changing colors...

. Parts of the trail near the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive are often considered the best for beginner hikers. In the southwestern portion of the state, the trail goes within one half mile of the highest point in Virginia, Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in the state of Virginia, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level. It lies in Grayson County and Smyth County, Virginia, about WSW of Troutdale, Virginia, within the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forest.The...

, which is a short side-hike from the AT.

West Virginia



West Virginia has 4 miles (6 km) of the trail, not including about 20 miles (32 km) along the Virginia border. Here the trail passes through the town of Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States. In many books the town is called "Harper's Ferry" with an apostrophe....

, headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia...

. Harpers Ferry is considered the "psychological midpoint" of the AT.

Maryland



Maryland has 41 miles (66 km) of the trail, with elevations ranging from 230 to 1,880 feet (70–570 m). Hikers are required to stay at designated shelters and campsites. The trail runs along the C&O Canal Towpath
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, abbreviated as the C&O Canal, and occasionally referred to as the "Grand Old Ditch," operated from 1831 until 1924 parallel to the Potomac River in Maryland from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. The total length of the canal is about . The elevation change of...

 route for 3 miles (4.8 km).

Pennsylvania



Pennsylvania has 229 miles (369 km) of the trail. The trail extends from the Pennsylvania - Maryland line at Pen Mar, a tiny town straddling the state line, to the Delaware Water Gap
Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware Water Gap is on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains...

, at the Pennsylvania - New Jersey border. The Susquehanna River
Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River is a river located in the northeastern United States. At long, it is the longest river on the American east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and with its watershed it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United...

 is generally considered the dividing line between the northern and southern sections of the Pennsylvania AT, and Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a protected Pennsylvania area that includes Laurel and Fuller lakes in Cooke Township. The park provides various outdoor recreation activities, has the remains of the Pine Grove Iron Works, and was the site of the 1830 Laurel Forge, 1880s Pine Grove Park, and an...

 the halfway point of the entire AT.

The AT passes through St. Anthony's Wilderness, which is the second largest roadless area in Pennsylvania and home to several coal mining ghost town
Ghost town
A ghost town is an abandoned town or city. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or nuclear disasters...

s, such as Yellow Springs
Yellow Springs, Pennsylvania
Yellow Springs is a historic village and ghost town in West Pikeland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States, between Phoenixville and Downingtown. The community includes historic churches, established in the 1770s by German Reformed and Lutheran members. The village is located on a...

 and Rausch Gap
Rausch Gap, Pennsylvania
The ghost town of Rausch Gap was the largest of several coal mining towns in St. Anthony's Wilderness that appeared, flourished, and died during the period between 1830 and 1910...

.


New Jersey



New Jersey is home to 72 miles (116 km) of the trail. The trail enters New Jersey from the south on a pedestrian walkway along the Interstate 80
Interstate 80
Interstate 80 is the second-longest Interstate Highway in the United States, following Interstate 90. It is a transcontinental artery running from downtown San Francisco, California to Teaneck, New Jersey in the New York City Metropolitan Area...

 bridge over the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

, ascends from the Delaware Water Gap
Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware Water Gap is on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains...

 to the top of Kittatinny Ridge in Worthington State Forest
Worthington State Forest
The 6,421 acre Worthington State Forest runs more than seven miles along the Kittatinny Ridge in Columbia, in Warren County, on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, just north of the Delaware Water Gap in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The park offers hiking, camping and...

, passes Sunfish Pond
Sunfish Pond
Sunfish Pond is a glacial lake surrounded by a hardwood forest located on the Kittatinny Ridge within Worthington State Forest, adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Warren County, New Jersey. The Appalachian Trail runs alongside the western and northern edges of the...

 (right), continues through Stokes State Forest
Stokes State Forest
Stokes State Forest is a state park located in Sandyston Township, Montague and Frankford Twp. in Sussex County, New Jersey, United States. Stokes comprises of mountainous woods...

 and eventually reaches High Point State Park, the highest peak in New Jersey (a side trail is required to reach the actual peak). It then turns in a southeastern direction along the New York border for about 30 miles (48 km), passing over long sections of boardwalk bridges over marshy land, then entering Wawayanda State Park
Wawayanda State Park
Wawayanda State Park is a 34,350 acre state park in Sussex County and Passaic County in northern New Jersey. The park is in Vernon Township on the Sussex side, and West Milford on the Passaic side. There are 60 miles of hiking trails in the park, including a 20-mile stretch of the Appalachian...

 and then the Abram S. Hewitt State Forest
Abram S. Hewitt State Forest
Abram S. Hewitt State Forest is a state forest by Hewitt in northwestern New Jersey that is . It is on the Bearfort Ridge of unusual conglomerate between Greenwood Lake and Upper Greenwood Lake. It has a number of overlooks and colorful bedrock. It is accessible only on foot, with trails...

 just before entering New York near Greenwood Lake
Greenwood Lake, New York
Greenwood Lake is a village in Orange County, New York, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the village population was 3,411. It is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New...

.

Black bear activity along the trail in New Jersey increased rapidly starting in 2001. Hence, metal bear-proof trash boxes are in place at all New Jersey shelters.


New York



New York's 88 miles (142 km) of trail contain very little elevation change compared to other states. From south to north, the trail summits many small mountains under 1,400 feet (430 m) in elevation, its highest point in New York being Prospect Rock at 1,433 feet (438 m), and only 3,000 feet (800 m) from the border with New Jersey. The trail continues north, climbing near Fitzgerald Falls, passing through Sterling Forest, and then entering Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain State Park is located on the west side of the Hudson River in Orange and Rockland counties of New York. The park offers biking, hiking, boating, picnicking, swimming, cross-country skiing, cross-country running, sledding and ice skating...

. It crosses the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 on the Bear Mountain Bridge
Bear Mountain Bridge
The Bear Mountain Bridge is a toll suspension bridge in New York State, carrying U.S. Highways 202 and 6 across the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester counties...

, the lowest point on the entire Appalachian Trail at 124 feet (38 m). It then passes through Fahnestock State Park
Clarence Fahnestock State Park
Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park a 14,086 acre New York state park, in Putnam and Dutchess counties. The park has hiking trails, an environmental center, a beach on Canopus Lake, and fishing on four ponds and two lakes...

, and continues northeast and crosses the Metro-North Railroad
Metro-North Railroad
The Metro-North Commuter Railroad , trading as MTA Metro-North Railroad, or, more commonly, Metro-North, is a suburban commuter rail service that is run and managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority , an authority of New York State. It is the busiest commuter railroad in the United...

's Harlem Line. This track crossing is the site of the only train station
Appalachian Trail (Metro-North station)
The Appalachian Trail Metro-North Railroad station serves campers and hikers destined for the Appalachian Trail in Dutchess County, New York via the Harlem Line. Trains stop at Appalachian Trail on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays only. It is the only train station along the 2,175 mile length of...

 along the trail's length. It enters Connecticut via the Pawling Nature Reserve. The section of the trail that passes through Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks is the oldest section of the trail, completed in 1923. A portion of this section was paved by 700 volunteers with 800 granite-slab steps followed by over a mile of walkway supported by stone crib walls with boulders lining the path. The project took four years, cost roughly $1 million, and was officially opened in June 2010.

Connecticut



Connecticut's 52 miles (84 km) of trail lie almost entirely along the ridge
Ridge
A ridge is a geological feature consisting of a chain of mountains or hills that form a continuous elevated crest for some distance. Ridges are usually termed hills or mountains as well, depending on size. There are several main types of ridges:...

s to the west above the Housatonic River
Housatonic River
The Housatonic River is a river, approximately long, in western Massachusetts and western Connecticut in the United States. It flows south to southeast, and drains about of southwestern New England into Long Island Sound...

 valley.

The state line is also the western boundary of a 480 acre (190 ha) Connecticut reservation
Indian reservation
An American Indian reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs...

 inhabited by Schaghticoke Indians
Schaghticoke (tribe)
The Schaghticoke are a Native American tribe of the Eastern Woodlands consisting of descendants of Mahican , Potatuck , Weantinock, Tunxis, Podunk, and other people indigenous to what is now Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. They amalgamated after encroachment of white settlers on their...

. Inside it, the AT roughly parallels its northern boundary, crossing back outside it after 2,000 feet (640 m). The trail proceeds northward through the Housatonic River valley and hills to its west, veering northwesterly and, at Salisbury, ascending the southern Taconic mountains, at Lion's Head affording a view northeasterly towards Mt. Greylock and other points in Massachusetts, and at Bear Mountain, reaching over 2000 feet (609.6 m) in elevation for the first time since Pennsylvania and yielding views across the Hudson River valley to the Catskills and across the broad expanse of the Housatonic valley and the Berkshire and Litchfield Hills to the east. Just north of Bear, the trail, as it crosses into Massachusetts, descends into Sages Ravine, a deep gorge in the eastern Taconic ridgeline which is home to a fragile old growth forest. As the trail crosses the brook in the ravine, it leaves the area maintained by the Connecticut section of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Massachusetts



Massachusetts has 90 miles (145 km) of trail. The entire section of trail is in western Massachusetts' Berkshire County. It summits the highest peak in the southern Taconic Range
Taconic Mountains
The Taconic Mountains or Taconic Range are a physiographic section of the larger New England province and part of the Appalachian Mountains, running along the eastern border of New York State and adjacent New England from northwest Connecticut to western Massachusetts, north to central western...

, Mount Everett
Mount Everett
Mount Everett at 2,624 ft - or 800 m - is the highest peak in the south Taconic Mountains of Massachusetts. The mountain is known for its expansive views of the southern Taconics and Berkshires; for its fragile ecosystem of old growth pitch pine and scrub oak; and for its rare plant and animal...

 (2,602 ft., 793 m), then descends to the Housatonic River valley and skirts the town of Great Barrington
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Great Barrington is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,104 at the 2010 census. Both a summer resort and home to Ski Butternut, Great Barrington includes the villages of Van...

. The trail passes through the towns of Dalton
Dalton, Massachusetts
Dalton is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. Dalton is the transition town between the urban and rural pieces of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 6,892 at the 2000 census.- History...

 and Cheshire
Cheshire, Massachusetts
Cheshire is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,401 at the 2000 census.-History:...

, and summits the highest point in the state at 3,491 feet (1,064 m), Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock
Mount Greylock is the highest natural point in Massachusetts at . Its peak is located in the northwest corner of the state in the western part of the town of Adams in Berkshire County. Although geologically part of the Taconic Mountains, Mount Greylock is commonly associated with the abutting...

. It then quickly descends to the valley within 2 miles (3 km) of North Adams
North Adams, Massachusetts
North Adams is a city in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 13,708 as of the 2010 census, making it the least populous city in the state...

 and Williamstown
Williamstown, Massachusetts
Williamstown is a town in Berkshire County, in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. It shares a border with Vermont to the north and New York to the west. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,754 at the 2010 census...

, before ascending again to the Vermont state line. The trail throughout Massachusetts is maintained by the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Vermont


Vermont has 150 miles (241 km) of the trail. Upon entering Vermont, the trail coincides with the southernmost sections of the generally north/south-oriented Long Trail
Long Trail
The Long Trail is a hiking trail located in Vermont, running the length of the state. It is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States, constructed between 1910 and 1930 by the Green Mountain Club...

 (which is subject to a request by its maintainers to protect it in its most vulnerable part of the year by forgoing spring hiking). It follows the ridge of the southern Green Mountains, summitting such notable peaks as Stratton Mountain
Stratton Mountain (Vermont)
Stratton Mountain is a mountain located in Windham County, Vermont, in the Green Mountain National Forest.The mountain, a monadnock, is the highest point of Windham County, and of the southern Green Mountains generally. A fire tower located on the summit is generally open for climbing by the public...

, Glastenbury Mountain
Glastenbury Mountain
Glastenbury Mountain is a mountain located in Bennington County, Vermont, in the Green Mountain National Forest.The mountain is part of the Green Mountains....

 and Killington Peak
Killington Peak
Killington Peak is the second highest summit in the Green Mountains and in the U.S. state of Vermont. It is located east of Rutland in south-central Vermont. A ski resort, Killington Ski Resort, nicknamed "the beast of the east," is located on the mountain. Killington is a stop on the Long...

. After parting ways with the Long Trail at Maine Junction, the AT turns in a more eastward direction, crossing the White River
White River (Vermont)
The White River is a river in the U.S. state of Vermont. It is a tributary of the Connecticut River.The White River rises at Skylight Pond south of Bread Loaf Mountain near the crest of the Green Mountains. The river flows east to the town of Granville, where it receives the outflow from the...

, passing through Norwich
Norwich, Vermont
Norwich is a town in Windsor County, Vermont, United States, located along the Connecticut River opposite Hanover, New Hampshire. The population was 3,544 at the 2000 census....

, and entering Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover, New Hampshire
Hanover is a town along the Connecticut River in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 11,260 at the 2010 census. CNN and Money magazine rated Hanover the sixth best place to live in America in 2011, and the second best in 2007....

, as it crosses the Connecticut River
Connecticut River
The Connecticut River is the largest and longest river in New England, and also an American Heritage River. It flows roughly south, starting from the Fourth Connecticut Lake in New Hampshire. After flowing through the remaining Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis, it defines the border between the...

. The Green Mountain Club
Green Mountain Club
The Green Mountain Club is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving and protecting Vermont's Long Trail - America's first long-distance hiking trail which stretches from Massachusetts to the Canadian border along Vermont's high ridgeline...

 maintains the AT from the Massachusetts state border to Route 12
Route 12 (New England)
New England Route 12 was a multi-state north–south state highway in the New England region of the United States, running from Groton, Connecticut, through Worcester, Massachusetts, and Keene, New Hampshire, to Morrisville, Vermont. Its number dates from 1922, when it was a New England...

. The Dartmouth Outing Club
Dartmouth Outing Club
The Dartmouth Outing Club is the oldest and largest collegiate outing club in the United States. Proposed in 1909 by Dartmouth College student Fred Harris to "stimulate interest in out-of-door winter sports", the club soon grew to encompass the College's year-round outdoor recreation and has had...

 maintains the trail from VT Route 12 Woodstock to the New Hampshire state line.

New Hampshire




New Hampshire has 161 miles (259 km) of the trail. The New Hampshire AT is nearly all within the White Mountain National Forest
White Mountain National Forest
The White Mountain National Forest is a federally-managed forest contained within the White Mountains in the northeastern United States. It was established in 1918 as a result of the Weeks Act of 1911; federal acquisition of land had already begun in 1914. It has a total area of...

. For northbound thru-hikers, it is the beginning of the main challenges that go beyond enduring distance and time: in New Hampshire and Maine, rough or steep ground are more frequent and alpine
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

 conditions are found near summits and along ridges. The trail reaches 17 of the 48 four-thousand footers
Four-thousand footers
The term Four-Thousand Footers refers to a group of forty-eight mountains in New Hampshire at least 4,000 feet above sea level...

 of New Hampshire, including 6,288' Mount Washington
Mount Washington (New Hampshire)
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at , famous for dangerously erratic weather. For 76 years, a weather observatory on the summit held the record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth's surface, , on the afternoon of April 12, 1934...

, the highest point of the AT north of Tennessee. The Dartmouth Outing Club maintains the AT from the Vermont border past Mount Moosilauke to Kinsman Notch
Kinsman Notch
Kinsman Notch is a mountain pass located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, United States. It is the westernmost of the major notches through the White Mountains...

, Woodstock New Hampshire, with the AMC
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 maintaining the remaining miles through the state.

Maine




Maine has 281 miles (452 km) of the trail. More moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

 are seen by hikers in this state than any other on the trail. The northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is on Mount Katahdin's Baxter Peak in Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is a large wilderness area permanently preserved as a state park, located in Piscataquis County in north-central Maine. The Park was established by 28 donations of land, in Trust, from Park donor Percival P. Baxter between the years of 1931 and 1962, eventually creating a Park of...

.

In some parts of the trail in Maine, such as the Mahoosuc Notch, even the strongest hikers may only average 1 mph. There are other parts in which hikers must hold on to tree limbs and roots to climb and descend, which are especially dangerous and hazardous in wet weather conditions.

The western section includes a mile-long (1.6 km) stretch of boulders, some of which hikers must pass under, at Mahoosuc Notch
Mahoosuc Notch
Mahoosuc Notch is a deep gap in the Mahoosuc Range of western Maine, traversed by the Appalachian Trail. The boulders on this mile-long section of trail present obstacles that must be climbed over and sometimes under, creating a unique hiking experience...

, often called the trail's hardest mile. Also, although there are dozens of river and stream fords on the Maine section of the trail, the Kennebec River
Kennebec River
The Kennebec River is a river that is entirely within the U.S. state of Maine. It rises in Moosehead Lake in west-central Maine. The East and West Outlets join at Indian Pond and the river then flows southward...

 is the only one on the trail that requires a boat crossing. The most isolated portion of the Appalachian Trail, known as the "Hundred-Mile Wilderness", also occurs in Maine. It heads east-northeast from the town of Monson
Monson, Maine
Monson is a town in Piscataquis County, Maine, United States. As of the 2000 census, the town had a population of 666. The town is located on Route 15 which is a somewhat major route north to the well known Moosehead Lake Region, to which Monson is sometimes considered a gateway...

 and ends outside Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is a large wilderness area permanently preserved as a state park, located in Piscataquis County in north-central Maine. The Park was established by 28 donations of land, in Trust, from Park donor Percival P. Baxter between the years of 1931 and 1962, eventually creating a Park of...

 just south of Abol Bridge.

Park management strongly discourages thru-hiking within the park before May 15 or after October 15.

The AMC
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 maintains the AT from the New Hampshire border to Grafton Notch
Grafton Notch
Grafton Notch is a notch, or mountain pass, located in Oxford County, Maine.The notch demarks the northeastern end the Mahoosuc Range, and thus of the White Mountains....

, with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club responsible for maintaining the remaining miles to Mt. Katahdin.

Use in research


The Appalachian Trail has been a resource for researchers in a variety of disciplines. Portions of the trail in Tennessee were used on a study on trail maintenance for the Trail's "uniform environmental conditions and design attributes and substantial gradient in visitor use." Beginning in 2007, various citizen groups, including the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the American Hiking Society
American Hiking Society
The American Hiking Society is a Maryland-based non-profit dedicated to preserving trails, the areas that surround them and the hiking experience itself. It was co-founded in 1976 by Bill Kemsley, the founding editor of Backpacker...

, began a study to monitor environmental changes that have resulted from higher ozone levels, acid rain
Acid rain
Acid rain is a rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, meaning that it possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions . It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure. Acid rain is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen...

, smog
Smog
Smog is a type of air pollution; the word "smog" is a portmanteau of smoke and fog. Modern smog is a type of air pollution derived from vehicular emission from internal combustion engines and industrial fumes that react in the atmosphere with sunlight to form secondary pollutants that also combine...

, and other air quality factors. Such research has been supported by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

, the National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

, and Aveda Corporation.

Behavioral studies have also been conducted on hikers themselves. A 2007 study on hikers found that most persons hike the trail "for fun and enjoyment of life and for warm relationships with others" and that "that environmental awareness, physical challenge, camaraderie, exercise, and solitude" were chief results among hikers. Since the highest single demographic of thru-hikers are males between the ages of 18-29, one informal study sought to find the correlation between this group and male college drop-outs.

See also

  • Appalachian Development Highway System
    Appalachian Development Highway System
    The Appalachian Development Highway System is part of the Appalachian Regional Commission in the United States. See: .-History:...

     (ADHS) (in the eastern US)
  • Appalachian Trail by state
    Appalachian Trail by state
    The Appalachian National Scenic Trail spans fourteen U.S. states during its journey that is long, including Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine...

  • International Appalachian Trail
    International Appalachian Trail
    The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...


Additional U.S. long distance trails
  • Pacific Crest Trail
    Pacific Crest Trail
    The Pacific Crest Trail is a long-distance mountain hiking and equestrian trail on the Western Seaboard of the United States. The southern terminus is at the California border with Mexico...

  • Continental Divide Trail
    Continental Divide Trail
    The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico...

  • North Country Trail
    North Country Trail
    The North Country National Scenic Trail , which stretches approximately from Crown Point in eastern New York to Lake Sakakawea in central North Dakota in the United States, is the longest of the eleven National Scenic Trails authorized by Congress...


Connected U.S. long distance trails
  • Allegheny Trail
    Allegheny Trail
    The Allegheny Trail is a hiking trail that passes through the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia, USA. It is the longest named trail in the state ....

  • Benton MacKaye Trail
    Benton MacKaye Trail
    The Benton MacKaye Trail or BMT is a footpath nearly in length in the Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States and is blazed by a white diamond, 5" across by 7" tall...

  • Horse Shoe Trail
    Horse Shoe Trail
    The Horse Shoe Trail is a trail that runs from the western edge of Valley Forge National Historical Park westward toward Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where it ends at the Appalachian Trail....

  • International Appalachian Trail
    International Appalachian Trail
    The International Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail which runs from the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine, through New Brunswick, to the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, after which it takes bridge crossings to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a ferry ride to...

  • Long Trail
    Long Trail
    The Long Trail is a hiking trail located in Vermont, running the length of the state. It is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States, constructed between 1910 and 1930 by the Green Mountain Club...

  • Mason-Dixon Trail
    Mason-Dixon Trail
    The Mason Dixon Trail connects the Appalachian Trail with the Brandywine Trail, passing through Gifford Pinchot State Park and White Clay Creek Preserve in Pennsylvania and White Clay Creek State Park in Delaware.-External links:*...

  • Mountains-to-Sea Trail
    Mountains-to-Sea Trail
    The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a long-distance trail, for hiking and backpacking, that runs across North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. The trail's western endpoint is at Clingman's Dome, where it connects to the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National...

  • Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
    Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
    The Pinhoti Trail is a long-distance trail, long, locate in the United States within in the states Alabama and Georgia. The trail's southern terminus is on Flagg Mountain which is located near Weogufka, Alabama...

  • Virginia Creeper Trail
    Virginia Creeper Trail
    The Virginia Creeper Trail is a multi-purpose rail trail in southwestern Virginia. The trail runs from Abingdon to Whitetop, Virginia, near the North Carolina state line – through National Forest and crossing numerous restored trestles and crossing the Appalachian Trail.The trail descends...


Connected National Historic Trail
National Historic Trail
National Historic Trail is a designation for a protected area in the United States containing historic trails and surrounding areas. They are part of the National Trails System....

s
  • Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
    Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
    The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail is part of the U.S. National Trails System. It recognizes the Revolutionary War Overmountain Men, Patriots from what is now East Tennessee who crossed the Great Smoky Mountains and then fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain in South...


Further reading



  • ATC's official Appalachian Trail guide is the Thru-Hiker's Companion, compiled by volunteers of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) (available at AppalachianTrail.org).
  • The Official AT Databook, an annually updated compilation of trail mileages, water sources, road crossings, shelter locations, and other information.
  • The 2009 DataBook is the 31st annual edition, is considered indispensable by many AT hikers, and the data published within is used by many other hiking guides.[Backpack45.com "Appalachian Trail Guidebooks for the thru hiker."]
  • Also available through the ATC are individual state guidebooks and map sets.


Another annual guide book to the AT,The A.T. Guide by David Miller, incoporates several innovative features, including an elevation profile for the entire trail.


External links



Official sites
Unofficial sites and hiking guides
Journals