The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Prepares for Influx of Hikers Inspired by the Hollywood Effect of the Upcoming Film 'A Walk in the Woods'

Date Published: Sep 01, 2015

Nonprofit ATC Seeking $1.4 Million in Donations to Assure High Quality Hiking Experience

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia - The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) today announced it is completing planning for the expected increase of section and thru-hikers that may be inspired by the upcoming film A Walk in the Woods. The film will be released on September 2nd, and is an adaptation of Bill Bryson’s famous memoir about hiking the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and stars celebrated actors Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson.  The film follows the success of the acclaimed film Wild starring Reese Witherspoon, which chronicles a recently divorced woman seeking peace of mind in a hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.

“When the novel ‘A Walk in the Woods’ was released in 1998 we saw an increase of over 60% for thru-hikers starting on the Appalachian Trail,” said Ron Tipton, executive director/CEO of the ATC. “When ‘Wild’ came out we saw a spike in the number of Appalachian Trail hikers and also a large increase in the sales of guide books and maps. This is indicative of the kind of impact we expect from the movie and is the reason we have prepared and are implementing an action plan in cooperation with our A.T. management partners to assure a high quality hiking experience on the Trail.” 

In response to the expected increase in both long distance hikes and day hikes on the Trail, the ATC anticipates an additional $1.4 million will be required to operate new or expand existing ATC programs to protect the A.T. environment and experience.  Donations for this work are urgently needed.

“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is very excited about the new volunteers and supporters the film will bring to the Appalachian Trail,” said Tipton. “Although there has been some recent buzz about disrespectful hikers on the A.T., the vast majority of hikers respect the trail and its amazing natural beauty. It’s the feeling of closeness to nature and life changing experiences that we strive to preserve through teaching ‘Leave No Trace’ and maintaining the Trail for future generations.”

The activities undertaken by the ATC include awareness about proper Trail etiquette, preparation, and ethics consistent with Leave No Trace principles, support for the ridgerunners and caretakers, and vital Trail maintenance.

Ridgerunners and caretakers are seasonal, on-Trail employees assigned to help hikers learn more about the A.T. including ways to reduce their impact. The ATC and their partners bring onboard approximately 30 ridgerunners and caretakers every year, and will be increasing their capacity during the busy 2016 hiking season. The organization also coordinates efforts with 6,000 volunteers in the 31 Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs responsible for day-to-day trail management.

“We of course welcome hikers to enjoy the wonders of the A.T., and expect a large bump in traffic on the Trail in 2016 due to “A Walk in the Woods,” said Tipton. “Because of the growing popularity of the A.T., we will need additional funds to support all of these efforts.  With the necessary resources we can ensure hikers are well informed and have a positive hiking experience on this important national treasure.”

The ATC Mission

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. More:

To support the ATC’s mission and programs:  

For information about volunteer opportunities for every age and fitness level:  

For more information about the seven Leave No Trace principles:


Steve Fiore
Em: [email protected]
Ph: 847-415-9329 

Michelle Micor
Em: [email protected]
Ph: 847-784-5083   

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