Oct 25

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) extends from Maine to Georgia.

http://atc.civicore.com/images/AT_Overview_Poster_clubs_updated_122011.jpg

Covering nearly 2,200 miles (3,500 km.) and traversing 14 states- heading north from Georgia, into North Carolina, then Tennessee, on through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and finally, culminating in the woods of Maine. Meandering through many State Parks, State Forests, Wildlife and Recreation Areas, the Great Smokey Mountains & Shenandoah National Parks. Crossing such notable rivers as the Connecticut, Delaware, Hudson and Susquehanna to name only a few. Here is a link with state-by-state details.

The trail is maintained mostly by volunteers in each region. Volunteerism is a long standing American tradition and the clubs that maintain the A.T. are a fine example of that custom.

There is a lot to consider when planning a hiking trip. Here’s a terrific link resource for free downloadable topographic maps. Another link for info about wilderness safety and survival. And this article from the American Hiking Society for information essential to preparing for serious hiking and backpacking adventures. Backpacker Magazine has some interesting articles about the A.T..

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As I write this piece, my friend, Lana has been hiking along the A.T. Her plan was to hike the trail in its entirety as a continuous journey. I questioned her sanity for having this idea at her age, but more power to her if she successfully completes her mighty goal. As autumn closes in, Lana has informed me that during her periods of hiking (in between periods of mending up after suffering some injuries) she was not able to cover the number of miles she had hoped. Additionally, she has to attend to some unfortunate family issues that have come up. Thus her hike has been interrupted until next year in the spring. I was hoping that dear Lana might contribute some photos to this short article, but we may need to check back later.

In my younger days, I enjoyed hiking various sections of the A.T. in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. In New Jersey I grew up not far from access to the trail and there were also extensive trail systems that merged with the A.T. The trail passes through PA not far from where I live now and I’ve done some short walks at various points in the area. However the PA section has gained the moniker of “Rocksylvania” due to the rugged and rocky terrain. The state of Virginia hosts the most mileage of the trail at just a bit over 550 miles. Virginia is actually my favorite section with its verdant hardwood forests and abundance of wildlife.

Wherever you go on the AT it is important to reflect on the tremendous foresight Benton MacKaye had, way back in 1921. To vision an interstate hiking trail that would preserve large tracts of land in their natural state for future generations was monumental. The Appalachian Trail is one of America’s great treasure today and will remain for many years to come.

 

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