Graffiti a growing problem on Appalachian Trail

The graffiti begins at the entrance to the trail shelter where sweethearts have carved their names in the wooden posts as symbols of their everlasting love.

The horizontal boards beneath the shelter’s overhanging roof reveal the handiwork of a half-dozen hikers who have signed their trail names along with the date of their arrival. Inside the shelter, the sleeping platforms are covered with more names, numerals, and random doodlings, some scrawled in marker, some whittled by knife.

All this graffiti can be found at the Icewater Springs shelter, one of 12 shelters along the 72-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While graffiti is nothing new, trail managers say the problem has reached new heights over the past two years.

A special concern is that unlike in the past when graffiti was concentrated along accessible portions of the trail, more and more graffiti now is showing up in the remote backcountry, including the trail shelters in the Smokies.

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