The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking path in the world. It crosses 14 states from Georgia to Maine, and is about 2, 190 miles long. To hike it in its entirety is indeed an incredible achievement, and to hike any portion is definitely a breathtaking experience. The AT is meant not only to be a wonderful hike but it is also a very important tool in conservation. The areas surrounding the trail itself are often National Parks or National forests, and are protected by the American government.
Appalachiantrail.org offers tips on how to help maintain the pristine condition of the trail through an educational program titled “Leave No Trace”. They offer classes, but there are also instructive videos that explain in depth their principles of conservation.
The concept of the trail was originally created by Benton MacKay in 1921. The idea was published in the New York Evening Post in an article by Raymond H. Torrey in 1922. It was snatched up by the Palisades Interstate Park Trail Conference and given the highest priority. In August of 1937, the noble project was completed. The Trail gained the popularity it still enjoys today after focus was brought to it by Earl Shaffer. Mr. Shaffer was the first to hike the trail completely in one great tour (called a thru-hike) in 1948. This was not the only record Mr. Shaffer achieved on the trail; he also completed a thru-hike in a north to south direction, and was the first to do it from both directions. Later, in 1998, Mr. Shaffer completed the trail once more at nearly eighty years old, making him the oldest to ever hike the AT.
There are many plants and animals that call the AT home. The most common animals include:
- The Black Bear
- The copperhead snake
There is also a wide range of plant life along the trail, due to the different ecosystems that call parts of the trail home. Interesting vegetation includes Oak Trees and Yellow Poplars, and as one goes more northward, Maple trees, Birch trees, and Beech trees become more common.
The Appalachian Trail can definitely be described as historic, and beautiful, but it is also incredibly important. It is useful to the scientific community for research. It is a wonderful place for families to share an amazing experience and bond. And it is a testament to the goodness of humanity that man can recognize this amazing stretch though fourteen states and go to awe-inspiring efforts to conserve and protect it. I intend to not only hike it myself, but I also want to bring my children there someday, for the Appalachian Trail represents the values I wish to share with the next generation. Protection, and respect. Education. I hope this post was informative, and maybe just a little inspirational. If you liked it, please feel free to follow this blog, here and on Instagram and Facebook. There is definitely more like this to come. Thanks for reading!