ATC News

2023 Highlights

December 20, 2023

The ATC exists to protect the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and its surrounding lands, provide a world-class hiking experience, promote a sense of belonging, and expand the community of Trail stewards.

Throughout 2023 — our 98th year in service to the Trail — our work took many forms along the A.T. Here are a few highlights of what we accomplished thanks to your support and partnership.

Conserved an Iconic A.T. View


Viewshed from McAfee Knob showing the ATC’s McAfee Vista Preserve outlined in white. Photo by Christin Healey.

The view from atop McAfee Knob in Virginia — regarded as among the most popular scenic overlooks on the entire 2,197-mile Appalachian Trail — offers a spectacular panorama of the Catawba and Roanoke Valleys, North Mountain, and Tinker Cliffs. In November, the ATC finalized a multi-year effort protect 850 acres beneath the Knob, enhancing protection along the Trail corridor and connectivity for the greater A.T. landscape. The ATC’s new McAfee Vista Preserve will be managed for wildlife restoration and viewshed protection.

Restored Habitat for Endangered Species

Marian Orlousky looks out from inside the former Henderson Brook culvert

The ATC’s Marian Orlousky looks out from inside the 90-foot culvert that was removed in the summer to improve aquatic connectivity on the Henderson Brook near the A.T. Photo by Horizonline Pictures. 

Maine is home to the only remaining populations of wild Atlantic salmon in the U.S. This summer, the ATC worked with partners to remove a perched culvert near the A.T. and restore aquatic habitat in Henderson Brook, a priority tributary to the West Branch of the Pleasant River for Atlantic salmon recovery. The project is helping rescue the species from the brink of extinction and providing access to valuable rearing waters that have been blocked for decades.

Upgraded Trail Structures

A ramp along the side of a shelter

Due to the sloping site at the Riga Shelter in Connecticut, a ramp was installed, instead of stairs, to ensure visitors can access the shelter.

Rock steps, boardwalk bridges, shelters, and privies — these are just a few examples of the hundreds of features A.T. visitors encounter on the Trail. Each year the ATC coordinates with local Trail clubs, public agency partners, and volunteers to repair, replace, and improve worn out features to ensure your experience on the Trail is the very best it can be. An example of this work is the reconstruction of two popular shelters in Connecticut this summer. After 40 years of service, the original Brassie Brook and Riga shelters had suffered from the cumulative impacts of weather, a small fire, pests, and general wear-and-tear. The new shelters offer improved accessibility and sturdy places for hikers to rest.

Welcomed Five New A.T. Communities

An aerial photo of the main street running through a small town

Boonsboro, Maryland, located just west of South Mountain State Park, became one of 56 A.T. Communities in 2023.

Appalachian Trail Communities are important gateways to the Trail and help ensure it remains a premier destination for hikers, families, and outdoor enthusiasts. This spring, we designated five new A.T Communities in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Virgina. The newly designated towns will provide food, supplies, information, and recreational and volunteer opportunities to visitors of the A.T. In addition, they will partner in efforts to drive resilient rural economies, encourage recreation access, and engage in conservation planning along the Trail.

Cultivated Stewards of a More Inclusive Outdoor Experience

Emerging Leaders’ Summit participants learn the essentials of Trail maintenance on a hike. Photo by Noel Waldron.

“We are not merely hikers or conservationists; we are custodians of a legacy — a legacy that honors the past, cherishes the present, and safeguards the future.”  — 2023 ELS participant Devon Lespier

This fall, 27 young adults gathered at the ATC’s annual Emerging Leaders’ Summit to cultivate a shared commitment to making the Appalachian Trail, public lands, and the outdoors a welcoming place for all and to inspire a diverse new generation of natural resource stewards. The ELS offered opportunities to spark momentum for action at the intersection of inclusion and stewardship and provide a space for storytelling. The 2023 Summit fell over Indigenous Peoples Day, and the agenda integrated and honored Indigenous history and perspectives.

Connected with a Growing Community of A.T. Enthusiasts

2023 Appalachian Trail Days was held in May in Damascus, Virginia, near one of the ATC’s Visitor Center.

Throughout 2023, we met and connected with even more A.T. visitors and admirers both in person and virtually to share timely Trail information, volunteer opportunities and trainings, hiking tips, and personal stories.

The ATC’s Visitor Centers welcomed 47% more visitors than the previous year, and our Volunteer Engagement Platform provided access to more than 300 events that connected volunteers with Trail work projects across 14 states. We also launched the ATC’s TikTok channel, where people can enjoy quick, fun, and useful videos about a variety of A.T. topics like conservation of the Trail’s flora and fauna, how to plan a hike, hangtags, and so much more.

All of these, and many more projects spanning the entire A.T., were possible because of our supporters and members. But there is still more work to do in 2024 and beyond!

Help preserve the Trail for future generations. Please support the ATC and our efforts to provide an outstanding Appalachian Trail experience.