Lost & Found: The Appalachian Trail

Everything Else | Gabrielle Nelson | January 26, 2016

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Appalachian Trail Map
Appalachian Trail Map

On August 25th of this year, the National Parks Service will be celebrating 100 years of serving and preserving our nation’s national nature, military, and historical parks. The NPS conserves more than 400 parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah National Parks.

One thing both of these parks share, other than the obvious, is the Appalachian Trail, also known as the AT.


Quick Facts:

  • The AT stretches over 2,180 miles.
  • Begins at Springer Mountain in Georgia and finishes at Mount Katahdin in Maine.
  • Longest marked trail in the United States.
  • Hosts about 2,000 hikers each year who attempt to hike the full Trail.
  • Only 1 in 4 will finish the entire trail a year.
  • Built entirely by volunteers in the 1920s and 1930s, finishing up in 1937.
  • Still maintained by volunteers in conservation and hiking clubs.
  • There are five sections: Northern New England, Southern New England, Mid-Atlantic, The Virginias, and Southern Appalachians
  • Harper’s Ferry, WV is the halfway point.
  • The trail is marked by white “blazes,” or thick white painted lines on trees.

“The NPS conserves more than 400 parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah National Parks.”

The idea for the Trail was first proposed by Brenton MacKaye in the 1920s with the hope that people would be able to come out and reconnect with nature. Today, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s vision is still, “to connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy.”

AT Sign
Photo by Gabrielle Nelson

The AT goes through 14 states along the East Coast, offering personal insight into America’s wildlife up-close.

Most “thru-hikers” start in Georgia and hike towards Maine, starting between the end of February and mid-April and finishing 5-7 months later between August and early October.

Some of the issues hikers face along the way include packing too much, not being physically or mentally ready, not being cautious with wildlife, and falling victim to Lyme disease transported by ticks. But whether it’s man v. nature or man v. self, these successful hikers discover more than just the beauty of America’s wildlife along the way. From gaining a trail nickname to learning how important a bear bag is to finding out what they’re made of, these men and women come from all over the world to explore the hidden magic found in these trees. So next time you feel lost or want to challenge yourself, consider getting lost in the American woods and you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for in Brenton MacKaye’s dream.


Feature Photo by Gabrielle Nelson