The Appalachian Trail

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Facts and Statistics

appalachian1The Appalachian Trail, usually abbreviated as AT, is a 2,200-mile long hiking trail that stretches all the way from Mountain Springer in Georgia all the way up to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The entire hiking trail is located in the Appalachian Mountains and runs through 14 different states in the Eastern part of the USA.

The construction of this trail was initiated back in 1921 by a forester named Benton MacKaye, who came up with the plan of having a trail from Maine to Georgia connecting different farms and households in the eastern section of the USA. After its completion in 1937, this trail went into the history books as being the world longest hiking trail.

Just like any other hiking expedition, taking on the Appalachian Trail requires first-hand information and proper preparation. Getting a few facts and understanding of the trail can be a defining moment to each and every trail hiker. The following are some of the few facts and statistics you should always consider and have at your fingertips before you challenge yourself on taking on the Appalachian Trail.

Elevation

appalachian2Trail elevation should be each and every hiker’s point of consideration before embarking on a hiking expedition. This is a great factor to consider especially to new hikers or anyone who is not yet used to harsh and rough terrains. The highest point of this trail stands at 6,443 ft and is located on the Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. The lowest part, on the other hand, stands at 124 ft and is located on the Bear Mountain State Park in New York. Though the Clingmans Dome can be quiet daunting to some hikers, the fact that the entire trail has constant descents and ascents makes it easy for any hiker to take on the trail. Furthermore, hiking experts have labeled the trail difficulty as “Easy to Strenuous”.

The Trail Passes through 14 States

Starting from the northern part of Virginia, the trail stretches through Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and finally Maine. A large chunk of the trail is situated in Virginia which has prompted some hikers to come up with what they term as “Virginia Blues”. While Virginia houses the longest chunk of the trail, Maryland has the shortest with only 41 miles of the entire hiking trail.

Thru-hikes

A total of 2,700 people are believed to have hiked the trail in its entirety in the year 2014. Some hikers have managed to start from the North all the way to the South and vice-versa in what has come to be termed as a Yo-Yo hike.

White Blazes

appalachian3According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Georgia Trail Club, a total of 165,000 well labeled white blazes are available throughout the entire trail. When you compare this number to the length of the trail, this gives us a total of about one white blaze after each and every 70 feet. The markings are believed to be well labeled to an extent that a good number of hikers usually don’t require any type of guide maps when hiking the trail.

The Appalachian Trail Days Festivals

At the end of each and every trail, many hikers pass by Damascus in Virginia to celebrate their hiking accomplishments. These festivities were started back in May 1987 to celebrate 50 years since the completion of the trail. Since then, the celebrations have become a part of the Virginia culture. Damascus is your one stop shop for all your entertainment and leisure needs especially after long days of trekking.

Volunteers Maintain the Train

Preserving and repairing the trail is made possible thanks to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). The conservancy gets the repairing fees and workers from different volunteers who help in repairing the shelters as well as painting the blazes. According to the Conservancy, the trail is maintained by a total of 44 paid workers and 15 seasonal workers. A total of 31 maintenance clubs have been mandated with taking care and maintaining the trail.

Hiking Boots

appalachian4Picture yourself hiking through 14 different states and having to cover over 2,200 miles of wilderness and the never forgiving terrains. What type of boots are going to be able to cross this distance in one peace? Well- that’s a question that requires an experienced hiker to answer it. You’ll be surprised to learn that no pair of boots is able to bridge the entire gap. Because it’s believed that, on average, for you to cover the entire terrain back and forth; you need to have at least 5 different pairs of hiking boots (click here for the women’s page). The number of pairs you carry along, of course, depends on the type and quality, your general body weight, as well as your backpack weight. Tough and steep terrains, such as those present in Pennsylvania, have been known to chew out the best hiking boots around. So when you embark on hiking this trail, make sure you are bringing some high quality footwear, or else you might come back barefooted and sporting more blisters than you care to count.

Distance between Road Crossing

According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, highways, main roads, eateries and sleeping areas are 4 miles apart on the entire trail. With this in mind, different hikers can enjoy a meal and take a rest as they await the next day to continue with their hiking expedition.

No Tent Required

appalachian5To some hikers, a tent is a must have in each and every expedition. When it comes to hiking the Appalachian Trail, you don’t need to carry a tent with you. This can be attributed to the fact that major towns are located close to each other along the trail. Apart from the towns, a total of 250 garage-sized sleeping shelters are available according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The good thing about these sleeping shelters is the fact that they’re all offered at no charges. You can, however, decide to donate a few dollars as thank you gesture. These donations are used to cater and repair the sleeping shelters and the trail in general.

As a closing statement, always ensure that your privacy and security is guaranteed. Hiking just like any other part-time expedition requires sufficient information about the nature of the hike and the safety level of the hiking area in question. Never go to a hiking expedition without knowing what entails in the area in terms of security.

National Geographic’s “The Appalachian Trail”

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