What Makes an Appalachian Trail View Great?

Picture, in your mind, an Appalachian Trail (A.T.) view that inspires you. Now have a fellow A.T. hiker do the same. Did the view they selected look anything like yours? Most likely not.

Since the A.T. traverses so many regions, the views along its 2,193 miles vary significantly, sometimes even within a few miles. From craggy mountains in North Georgia, to rolling farmlands in Pennsylvania, to the rugged Saddleback Range in Maine, the Trail provides visitors with a diversity of views to admire, each tied to the environments surrounding the footpath. And while each view may differ in scope and composition, all of them are important to preserving the irreplaceable A.T. experience, and all of them inspire us for a wide variety of reasons.

Yet as inspiring as A.T. views are, it is easy for us to take them for granted. Most of these views have survived for centuries, after all, so many of us don’t stop to consider what it will take to protect them well into the future.

To better address looming threats, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Park Service (NPS) are taking a vital first step to ensure that they identify and accurately describe the scenic beauty along the A.T. by taking inventory of the current state of the Trail’s irreplaceable views.

Known as the “Enjoy the View” initiative, the ATC and NPS will be collecting data and taking in-depth photographs of over 1,400 viewpoints along the entire A.T. The initiative began in 2019 with an assessment of 70 scenic views at four very different sites along the Trail: Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina, the Virginia “Triple Crown,” South Mountain in Pennsylvania and the Saddleback Range in Maine.

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