The Appalachian National Scenic Trail

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History of the AT►

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail passes through 14 states, from Georgia in the south to Maine in the north. The AT traverses about 2200 miles. (Although the length varies as sections are re-routed.) Thru-hikers challenge themselves to walk the entire trail in one season.

A forester named Benton MacKaye first conceived of the trail in 1921. The New York Evening Post published the idea in a full-page article “A Great Trail from Maine to Georgia!” Private citizens built the trail and completed it by 1937.

The National Trails System Act of 1968 designated the Appalachian Trail as one of the first national scenic trails. The National Park Service, along with other organizations, maintains the trail today. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is the main non-profit group managing the AT. Their mission is to protect, manage, and advocate for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Their website provides resources for exploring the AT.

Places We’ve Explored on the AT►

Not a thru-hiker? That’s OK, because opportunities for day hikes abound along the AT. We’ve stepped foot on the Appalachian Trail in several states. And in most cases, we didn’t break a sweat.

While visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we walked a bit on the AT in both North Carolina and Tennessee. Clingman’s Dome in NC is the highest mountain on the Appalachian Trail. Newfound Gap straddles the NC-TN state line. We found the AT trailhead not far from the parking lot.

The AT runs through the Green Mountains in Vermont. When in the Killington area, we found the accessible boardwalk section to Thundering Falls.

In New York, the Appalachian Trail runs through Bear Mountain State Park and crosses the Hudson River via the Bear Mountain Bridge. The stretch from Bear Mountain to Harriman State Park was the first section of the AT to open in 1923.

Our toughest hike on the Appalachian Trail was in Connecticut. We climbed up to the ridge in Housatonic Meadows State Park. Which our dogs thought it was great fun! And we met some through-hikers along the way. I felt a little silly huffing and puffing under the weight of my camera while they were carrying huge packs.