Appalachian Trail

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Shenandoah National Park

The Appalachian Trail is a United States National Scenic Trail that runs over through 14 states in the eastern United States, following the Appalachian Mountain Range.
Nicholas A. Tonelli
The Appalachian Trail ("the AT" for short) began as a vision of forester Benton MacKaye and was developed by volunteers and opened as a continuous trail in 1937. It was designated as the first National Scenic Trail by the National Trails System Act of 1968. The trail is protected along more than 99 percent of its course by federal or state ownership of the land or by rights-of-way. Annually, more than 4,000 volunteers contribute more than 185,000 hours of effort on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy's mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail.
The trail stretches for 2,184 miles (3,500 km) through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia. Every year, thousands of people try to hike the whole trail in a single journey (known as "thru-hiking"), typically starting from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain in Georgia. About 3 in 20 of those who try make it all the way to Mount Katahdin in Maine, the northern terminus. The vast majority of hikers choose to make shorter day or multi-day treks along portions of the trail are known as "section-hikers". Some short sections are fully accessible to those with disabilities; the AT has been traveled by hikers with a variety of disabilities, including those hearing-impaired and blind.
The trail's popularity is due in part to its fame and scenic vistas, and in part to its easy accessibility to major population centers. Most people in the dense northeastern section of the country live within a 3-hour drive of the trail. This density has sometimes made the trail a bit too "civilized" in some areas, especially in a few locations where development has forced the trail onto roads. However, the federal government has established a protected corridor along much of the trail, preserving the "natural" experience for many trail hikers. And in some segments, such as in northern Maine, you can hike for 100 miles (160 km) without ever crossing a paved road prepare accordingly!



Michael Stokes
In general, the trail is open continuously year-round. The northern terminus at Katahdin is within Baxter State Park, which may be closed in winter months, depending on weather conditions.
Needless to say, throughhiking the trail at any time other than late Spring to early Fall is not something to be considered lightly. the trail is almost always colder and exposed to more extreme weather than surrounding areas, leading as it does along the mountain ridge of the Appalachians. In particular, expect plenty of rainy nights any time of year—this is a wet temperate forest, as the East Coast gets a lot of rainstorms, which halt upon the mountains regardless of whether they come from the east or west.




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