The Appalachian Trail turns 80

There’s something about the Appalachian Trail – or, A.T., as it’s affectionally known by enthusiasts – that draws people to it, from day-hikers, to section-hikers who spend days, weeks, or even months traversing its sections’ ups and downs, to “thru-hikers” who hike the entire trail, from start to finish.

“The A.T. is a place that balances me; it grounds me,” says section-hiker Maureen Cacioppo of St. Petersburg, Florida, who has hiked sections of the A.T. in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine over the course of about 14 years. “I can reconnect with myself and Mother Nature.”

When Benton MacKaye revealed his proposal for “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning” in October 1921 and established the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in 1925, he probably imagined just that – a place where people could get away from their daily surroundings and immerse themselves in nature.

Over the course of the following decade or so, conservancy leadership and volunteer clubs worked side-by-side, and in August 1937, the (roughly) 2,190-mile-long, footpath was complete from Maine to Georgia, passing through 14 states. The A.T. is one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world.

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