Facts About the Appalachian Trail

Appalachian TrailWhen you mention the Appalachian Trail, it conjures up visions of a back country multi-month adventure through the eastern United States. The trail starts in my home state of Georgia  and stops in Maine. Patrick O’Neill has some great facts about this amazing trail:
5 Things You Did Not Know About the Appalachian Trail

5 Things You Did Not Know About the Appalachian Trail

By Patrick ONeill

The Appalachian Trail, finished in 1937, is the U.S.’s longest marked footpath, in 2009 officially measured at 2,178 miles.

The Appalachian Trail was the brainchild of Benton MacKaye, a forester, planner and outdoor conservationist who proposed the idea of a government run multi-state hiking trail to anyone who would listen in 1921. Volunteers have made MacKaye’s idea a reality. Today, the Appalachian Trail, or “A T”, is commonly called “a simple footpath” covering 14 states and 2100 miles along the Eastern Seaboard states.

5 little known facts about The A. T.

1 – The A. T. crosses 6 national parks, winds through 8 national forests and touches 14 states. It houses along its length over 2,000 rare or endangered plant or animal species. The lowest elevation is 123 feet at the Trailside Museum and Zoo, in Bear Mountain, New York, and the highest elevation is 6,626 feet at Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee.

2 – 1,500 to 2,000 hikers attempt to walk the entire length of the A. T. in one un-interrupted attempt, or season, every year. Roughly 25% finish this grueling test of endurance, and, more importantly, mental stamina. 10% quit the first week, and a full 20% quit in the first 30 miles, before reaching Neel’s Gap in Georgia. It takes between 5 and 7 months to complete.

3 – Approximately 10,000 hikers have reported hiking the entire length of the trail, either as thru-hikers or section hikers. Since it requires 5 to 6 months to complete a thru hike, some hikers knock out “sections” when they have time, thus the name. There is no distinction between the 2 types of hikers. However you hike 2,178 miles is an accomplishment.

4 – Money. A thru-hike will cost between $3,000 and $5,000, with an additional $1,000 to $2,000 being spent on gear. Money is also spent in towns along the way; when you are burning 6,000 calories a day, a cheeseburger, milkshake, etc. seems like mana from heaven. Hikers frequently spring for a hotel room when they have the chance, when the trail heads near a town, and this adds extra mileage to the hike, getting to and from.

5 – Abracadabra. “Trail magic” comes in 2 varieties. Trail Magic is unexpected positive happenings, occurences and the like, whether natural or man-made. The magic of cresting a rise to see clear beautiful weather as a mother bear and her 2 cubs makes an appearance, after hiking through rain for 2 weeks, or the magic of being greeted at a shelter by strangers who hiked up to cook burgers and hot dogs for, just when you were tiring of eating noodles for the umpteenth time. The stories of Trail Magic are as memorable to a hiker as the hike itself.

I hope you enjoyed these cool facts about one of our nation’s under-utilized resources. If you would like more information about how you can have the free time to enjoy a hike of this proportion, contact me below.

Patrick O’Neill
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Contact me about anything Here!
Cell – 904-476-2822

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I have hiked a total of 10 miles of this great American trail.  (not much, but enough to see that the Appalachian Trail is a wonderful asset in the American adventure.  I hope that you get to hike at least a portion of it and see all it’s beauty.

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