The Long Start to the Journey

A Story of the Appalachian Trail In the winter of 2013 filmmaker Chris Galloway set out to thru hike the Appalachian Trail starting on Springer Mountain, Georgia and walking over 2,000 miles to reach Mount Katahdin, Maine. In the course of his seven month trek, Frost (as he came to be known on the trail) trudged through deep snow drifts on the Smoky Mountain crest,...

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Anish Breaks the Appalachian Trail Unsupported Speed Record

Today, at 5:25pm on top of Springer Mountain, history was made. Heather ‘Anish’ Anderson just set the record for the fastest unsupported hike of the 2,285-mile Appalachian Trail, finishing in 54 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes. She averaged about 42 miles a day over the course of the trail. History repeats itself, and so does Anish. In 2013, Anish set the record for the...

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Appalachian Trail not just built for thru-hikers

The entirety of the AT in Great Smoky Mountains National Park goes from Fontana Dam in the south to Davenport Gap in the northeast. While it’s just a small section of the full Georgia-to-Maine trail, the part of the trail in the Smokies is 71 miles long. It usually takes about a week to complete. Backpackers need to get reservations and permits from the park service in...

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TVA to begin work on Fontana Dam

Tennessee Valley Authority will begin maintenance work on Fontana Dam on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. Work is planned to continue through March 30, 2016. During this time, the dam will be closed to vehicle traffic. The dam will remain open to foot traffic. Hikers will need to walk behind the visitors center and then up the steps to access the dam. If you are planning a hike...

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Appalachian Trail murder ‘reverberates still’ after 25 years

In September 1990, a couple hiking the Appalachian Trail planned to celebrate a birthday at the Thelma Marks Shelter on the trail on the mountain overlooking Duncannon, Pennsylvania. However, when Biff and Cindi Bowen arrived at the shelter on Sept. 13 after a meal in Duncannon, they immediately turned around and headed back into town. The couple had discovered the...

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Beyond the White Blaze: Appalachian Trail Guide

The Appalachian Trail is the country’s most famous footpath. Stretching 2,189 miles from Maine to Georgia, it attracts three million hikers each year—including over 2,000 thru-hikers. That number is expected to grow with the release of the Hollywood blockbuster A Walk in the Woods starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. Will crowds swamp the A.T. or help save it? The...

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Hiking the Appalachian Trail: Boots not made for Pennsylvania

The Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania is “where boots go to die,” and “lots of people leave Pennsylvania limping and bruised.” After traversing all 220 miles of the AT in the Keystone State, both statements are indeed accurate. The reason is entirely geological, owing to the amazing jumble of rocks of all types, sizes and shapes – known scientifically as felsenmeer –...

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Hikers behaving badly: Appalachian Trail partying raises ire

When Jackson Spencer set out to tackle the Appalachian Trail, he anticipated the solitude that only wilderness can bring — not a rolling, monthslong frat party. Shelters where he thought he could catch a good night’s sleep while listening to the sounds of nature were instead filled with trash, graffiti and people who seemed more interested in partying all night,...

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Why the Most Popular Hiking Memoirs Don’t Go the Distance

The question arises: why are the three most famous accounts of hiking three of the world’s most famous long-distance trails written by people who did not hike the whole distance? The loneliness and skull-bound nature of a long-distance hike fits quite nicely with the thinking out, if not the actual writing, of books. The dusty back aisles of Amazon are glutted with...

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Road Prong Trail to Chimney Tops, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Chimney Tops is one of the more popular destinations in the Smokies because of its central location, rugged beauty, and challenging access. And challenging it is. While short in distance, the trails that lead to the summit of Chimney Tops are steep and strenuous. Accessible from two trails, one below that climbs from Hwy 441 to the top, and one above that drops down from...

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Hiking the Appalachian Trail: Landmarks are reminders of the Civil War

Shenandoah National Park protects 79,600 acres along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains between the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the foothills of the Virginia Piedmont to the east. The Appalachian Trail follows in close proximity to Skyline Drive, the park’s popular tourist road. Most weary thru-hikers, on the trail since Georgia, find the week-long, 105-mile...

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‘Trail angels’ support Appalachian through-hikers

Every summer, they trek through New York on their way from Georgia to Maine — a scruffy bunch whose determination to hike the entire Appalachian Trail finds them pushing through the Hudson Valley in July and August. For many, the roughly 2,189-mile trip is the culmination of a dream. Others aren’t sure why they’re doing it. But most know they couldn’t manage the hike...

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Baxter State Park pushes back on rising number of Appalachian Trail ‘thru-hikers’

“Sputnik” had just emerged from the most remote stretch of the Appalachian Trail – 100 miles of Maine “wilderness” with no stores, towns or even paved roads – when he paused to consider a different ending to the life-changing trek he was about to complete. Behind him lay 2,170 miles worth of footsteps stretching from Georgia to this spot on Abol Bridge offering two...

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Hiking the Appalachian Trail: Meet on the ledges

The Appalachian Trail north of Damascus, Virginia, follows a portion of the Virginia Creeper Trail, a popular 35-mile rail trail, before climbing into the high country of grassy bald summits and spruce-fir forests of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, which contains 5,000 acres of terrain over 4,000 feet in elevation. At 5,729 feet, heavily forested Mount Rogers...

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Appalachian Trail record breaker summonsed on Katahdin

The man who set a new record for speed traversing the Appalachian Trail, Scott Jurek, was issued three summonses by rangers on Mt. Katahdin. After completing his 46-day run, state park rangers issued him summonses for public drinking, littering and hiking with an oversize group. Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and lays inside the boundary of...

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Jurek beats Davis’ Appalachian Trail record by mere hours

Scott Jurek, renowned champion long distance runner, today broke the Appalachian Trail (AT) speed record previously set by Jennifer Pharr Davis of Asheville, NC in 2011 by just three hours. The difference, over the 2,189-mile AT, was akin to a photo finish. Jurek climbed Mt. Katahdin in Maine on Sunday, July 12, 2015, the 47th day after he started at Springer Mountain,...

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From the archives: March 5, 1995 / Hiking America’s trail

A dozen writers and photographers from five eastern newspapers were on top of Springer Mountain, southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. They were poised to take the first step of a 2,158-mile adventure along one of the world’s premier hiking trails, a serpentine footpath tripping over the ridge tops of 14 states from Georgia, through Pennsylvania, to Maine. It...

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Roan Highlands Redux – A Photo Essay

When the Southern Appalachians are your home, the month of June simply isn’t complete without a visit to Roan Highlands for the annual rhododendron and azalea bloom. Like Julie Andrews sang years ago, “these are a few of my favorite things.” From the first time I set foot on Round Bald, I knew this was someplace special. The grassy ridge of the...

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Clingmans Dome Area Trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in the state of Tennessee, and along the Appalachian Trail. Standing 6,643 feet, it is also the third highest peak in the East, only 41 feet lower than the tallest. Several hiking trails surround the summit of Clingmans Dome, including the Forney Ridge Trail that heads south to the picturesque...

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A.T. In A Day

Backpacker Magazine is throwing a 2,180-mile party from Georgia to Maine! Join in on June 20, 2015 for a record-setting attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail in 24 hours. Bring on the thru-hikers, the section hikers, the weekend warriors. Bring on the dayhikers with sneakers on their feet and baby carriers on their backs. Bring on the AT lifers and those who have never...

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Appalachian Trail to Lover’s Leap, Pisgah National Forest

Hot Springs, NC is an Appalachian Trail Community that sits along the French Broad River in the Appalachian Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. The Appalachian Trail was built through Hot Springs more than seven decades ago, and today white blazes still mark the path through town and over the bridge across the river, before heading north up to the vista, Lover’s...

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Hiking the Appalachian Trail: Wonderful sights in the Land of the Noonday Sun

A gnarled old oak tree sits atop Bly Gap at 3,800 feet on the Appalachian Trail, famously marking the boundary between Georgia and North Carolina. The Tar Heel State, the second on the northbound thru-hiker’s agenda, wastes no time with fancy introductions, putting a couple of brutally steep 4,000-footers directly ahead: Courthouse Bald and the aptly named Sharp Top....

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Volunteers Sought For Appalachian Trail Crew In Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy seeks volunteers, 18 and over, to help maintain the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as part of the Smokies Wilderness Elite Appalachian Trail Crew for the 2015 season. A position on the S.W.E.A.T. Crew is physically demanding and is designed for experienced hikers who love to work hard, live in the...

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Scott Jurek Chases Appalachian Trail Speed Record

Scott Jurek has been eyeing the Appalachian Trail for years. On Memorial Day, he began his pursuit of the trail’s speed record. Jurek has won nearly all of ultrarunning’s elite events, including the historic 153-mile Spartathlon, the Hardrock 100, the Badwater 135-mile Ultramarathon, the Miwok 100K, and—his signature race—the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, which...

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Asheville filmmaker immerses himself in Appalachian Trail

Chris Gallaway fought off swarms of mosquitoes like something out of a Biblical plague, black bears trying to get at his rotisserie chicken, and the general exhaustion and agony, anguish and heartbreak of anyone thru-hiking the 2,180-mile-long Appalachian Trail. Although Gallaway, 32, of Black Mountain, NC began the journey in 2013 as a solo hiker, he was never really...

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Vanished: The untold, unsolved case of Jessie Hoover

On the morning of July 11, 1983, Maine State Police Detective Sgt. Ralph E. Pinkham got a call from a woman in Texas worried about her sister Jessie Albertine Hoover. She hadn’t heard from her since May 16, when Hoover called from a Bangor motel. At the time, her sister said, the 54-year-old had only about $15 to $20, but intended to wire for money when she passed...

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Pisgah National Forest: A History by Marci Spencer

When George W. Vanderbilt constructed the Biltmore House, he hired forester Gifford Pinchot and, later Dr. Carl A. Schenck to manage his forests. Over 80,000 of his woodland acres became the home of America’s first forestry school and the heart of the East’s first national forest. Now comprising more than 500,000 acres, Pisgah National Forest holds a vast...

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10 Things You Should Know About the Appalachian Trail

On March 3, 1925, roughly two dozen outdoor enthusiasts meeting at the Raleigh Hotel in Washington, D.C., formed an all-volunteer organization charged with building the Appalachian Trail. Though work at first proceeded only in fits and starts, the Trail eventually skyrocketed in popularity, attracting the attention of prominent politicians who protected it from...

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The seven hardest day hikes on the Appalachian Trail

When you picture the mountains that span the Appalachian Trail, what comes to mind? Massive, majestic, daunting peaks? Likely not—and you’d be right. It is for this reason that the uninitiated confuse the 2,189 miles that make up the United States’ original long trail as easy hiking. Some of it is. Most of it, however, is excruciatingly difficult. In fact, of the three...

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Voluntary Thru-Hike Registration System Aimed At Protecting Appalachian Trail Now Available

In order to enhance the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) experience for thru-hikers and better manage this natural resource, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), in cooperation with its partners, has launched a new voluntary registration system for those attempting to hike the trail in one year. This registration system, available at the Conservancy website, exists to ease...

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