Record numbers hike the AT

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy visitor center in 2015 recorded a record-breaking number of hikers passing through its visitor center in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Since the release of the movie “A Walk in the Woods” on Sept. 2, the number of visitors at the center has increased more than 50 percent.

While the center is considered the psychological midpoint of the trail, the physical halfway point of the 2,190-mile national scenic trail is in Michaux State Forest, near Pine Grove Forest State Park in Cumberland County, PA. Hikers celebrate with a half-gallon of ice cream at the park concession.

The new AT records as of December:

– 1,385 northbound thru-hikers, from Georgia to Maine, passed through Harpers Ferry, an increase of 9 percent over last year.

– Southbound thru-hikers, who walk from Maine to Georgia, increased by 14 percent to 192.

– Those choosing to walk the entire AT by hop-scotching from section to section increased 139 percent to 291 people.

“These numbers reveal the importance of a proactive stewardship plan that will address the impact of growing numbers of hikers on the Appalachian Trail,” said Ron Tipton, the ATC’s executive director. “With the help of our partners, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy plans to meet the challenge of ensuring all hikers are able to have a high quality hiking experience.”

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