Ireland added to the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail now extends all the way to IrelandYou’ve heard us sing the praises of the Appalachian Trail on more than one occasion here on Gadling. It’s the 2181-mile long trekking route that runs from Georgia to Maine that is considered amongst the best in the world. Turns out, the trail just got a whole lot longer, stretching all the way across the ocean to Ireland.

Officially, the AT is an American trail, and more than 2.5 million hikers use at least some segment of it on an annual basis. But there is also an International Appalachian Trail that extends all the way to the most northerly point of Newfoundland, Canada, adding an additional 1900+ miles to the route. That IAT is now jumping across the pond to Ireland, where it will run from Donegal to Antrim. According to Paul Wylezol, Chairman of the International Appalachian Trail, Ireland was added to the IAT because of “its direct physical connection to Newfoundland across geologic time, and its cultural and ethnic connection to eastern Canada and the US in modern times.”

In other words, Ireland once was connected to North America as part of the super-continent known as Pangaea, and because of that, it is getting added to the Appalachian Trail. Organizers hope to also add sections in Scotland, Norway and Greenland, as mountains in those locations are geologically related to the Appalachian Mountains. In fact, there are some indications that they may have once been a single range, before continental drift pushed the Earth’s land masses out to their current locations.

Hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail has long been considered one of the most impressive accomplishments in long distance trekking. For those hoping to achieve that feat in the future, it has suddenly gotten a lot longer and more challenging. I don’t think a pair of water proof boots are going to cut it.

[Photo credit: Paulbalegend via WikiMedia]