12 Historical Facts About The Appalachian Trail

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12 Historical Facts About The Appalachian Trail

12 Historical Facts About The Appalachian Trail

Spring is just around the corner. This time of year is the most optimal to get in shape, do some travelling, and try new things. Hiking is one of the cheapest and most rewarding hobbies you can take part in, but can be one of the most challenging. For those of us who are up for the challenge, the Appalachian Trail (AT for short)  is a killer 2,178 miles long, travels through 14 states, and takes roughly 5 million footsteps to hike. So, if you’re not breaking a sweat after reading those statistics, continue reading to get the full effect.

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1.) The AT didn’t just happen. Nor was it a willy-nilly hike repeated by tons of outdoor enthusiasts. The idea of a “super trail” had been a hot topic among members of the New England hiking-organization for some time. The initial idea, however, was prospected in the  October 1921 publication of “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning” in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects by a one Mr. Benton MacKaye.

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2.) Even though the Trail was proposed by MacKaye, he was kind of a lazy dude and his efforts faded until they were picked up by Myron H. Avery, who had around 200 activists backing him up. Avery and his team were the ones who established  routes and published guidebooks and maps while working with national parks and other federal agencies to get the show on the road. Go team!

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3.) Initially, the hope of the trail was an escape from the ever-growing, industrialized world. The original idea was to design a series of work, research, and farming camps along the Appalachian Mountains, with a trail connecting them.

 

4.) The highest point in the North is Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.

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5.) The highest in the South is Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina.

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6.) Maj. William A. Welch is responsible for designing the iconic diamond Trail marker. Thi is the most recognized symbol of the Trail and can be seen in various forms (below).

2 a Trail Art - Grafton Notch, ME hwy 26 three 6Trail Art - b Sunrise Mtn, NJ  images (1) Trail Art - big plywood logo on main bldg, Walasi-Yi center, Neels Gap

7.) The first person to complete the trip in each direction was Earl V. Shaffer, a Pennsylvania veteran “walking off the war”. He did it in 1965 and hiked it in 99 days.

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8.) August 14, 1937 was the day the Appalachian Trail was completed as a continuous footpath.

9.) The Appalachian Trail is the longest “hiking-only” footpath in the world.

10.) The Trail’s famous white blazes are more numerous that the miles. A total of 165,000 blazes are on the Trail guiding hikers the whole way.

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11.) Everyone knows that hiking a mountain range will inevitably cause elevations changes, but how about hiking Mount Everest, at an elevation of 29,029 feet, a whopping 16 times? Well, that’s the equivalent of the AT’s elevation changes totaling up to approximately 464,464 feet. Dizzy yet?

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12.) A portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway was supposed to be part of the original Trail. Skyline Drive’s 105 miles of winding road through Shenandoah National Park was proposed in 1931 as part of the trail and would have offered a road/trail portion to be dually enjoyed by hikers and cruisers.

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Related topics Appalachian Trail, AT, Benton MacKaye, Blue Ridge Parkway, camping, diamond Trail marker, Facts, Fun Facts, Hiking, History, Mount Everest, Mount Mitchell, Mountains, Myron H. Avery, outdoors, summer
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