The Appalachian Trail has been mentioned in the news quite a bit in the past week or so, thanks to a certain governor who managed to hike it all the way to Argentina. While “Hiking the AT” may yet become a sexual euphemism due to this recent scandal, for years the trail has been one of the best long distance treks in North America, if not the entire world.
The Appalachian Trail was first conceived back in 1921, with construction being completed in 1937. In 1968 it was designated as the United States’ first national scenic trail, cementing its status as the top trail in the country. Stretching more than 2,175 miles in length, the trail crosses 14 states, running from Maine to Georgia, and while it does pass through six national parks, it doesn’t wander anywhere close to Argentina.
According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website, more than 10,000 people have taken the estimated 5 million footsteps it takes to hike the entire length of the trail. Many of them have done it over the course of a number of years, breaking it into sections, and tackling various lengths as their time allows. A few have thru-hiked the entire trail however, going non-stop across its vast length, stopping in towns along the way to resupply before heading out to the backcountry once again. Typically it takes about six months to finish the entire length of the AT, with some starting in the spring in Georgia and heading north, and others getting underway in the summer in Maine, and moving south.
The Appalchian Trail falls within a days ride of 2/3rds of the American population, and 4 million of us head out on the “foot path” every year. The AT offers everything from great day hikes to months long adventures, serving up spectacular views and stunning vistas across its length. Hikers will also encounter plenty of wildlife as well, with moose, dear, elk, and even black bear making regular appearances through out its length.
With its rich diversity, ease of access, and amazing length, the Appalachian Trail has something to offer just about everyone. Whether you are a bird watcher looking to kill a few hours in the woods or a hardcore backpacker with the desire to add your name to the list of those who have conqured all 2000+ miles, this classic trek has something for you. Even armchair adventurers can can get in on the fun by picking up Bill Bryson’s classic book A Walk in the Woods. America’s first scenic trail, remains its greatest, even if it has gained a bit of noteriety.