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Youth Outreach

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s vision is to connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy. In order to realize that vision, we strive to incorporate groups that are underrepresented among ATC staff, A.T. visitors, and ATC constituents. We hope to create an ever-expanding community of doers and dreamers, and work to ensure that tomorrow’s generations will experience the same mesmerizing beauty we behold today.

ATC 2022 Youth Engagement Impact Report Cover2023 Youth Engagement Impact Report

In 2023, the ATC strove to connect youth from around the country with the Appalachian Trail, develop a deeper understanding of environmental stewardship, and build the next generation of conservation professionals and advocates.



Emerging Leaders’ Summits

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) hosts Emerging Leaders’ Summits. Summits are centered on young people aged 18-30, provide professional development skills, connection to conservation leaders, and support storytelling and artistic creation.


Next Generation Advisory Council

In order to encourage young adults to become more involved in the management, preservation, and stewardship of the Appalachian Trail, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) created the Next Generation Advisory Council (“NextGen” or “the Council”) to explore effective methods for advising and engaging their generation in trail advocacy and protection.

NextGen seeks to achieve the ATC’s strategic goal of broader relevancy – to increase youth and diversity in order to address the reality that America’s growing, diverse population is underrepresented in many conservation organizations.

The Council consists of 14 to 16 young, diverse leaders between the ages of 18 and 30 who serve two-year terms. Members work to address barriers to employment and recreation, create a more inclusive narrative of people utilizing the Appalachian Trail, and contribute advice to the ATC on programs and policies designed to encourage membership, advocacy, and leadership from a younger and more culturally diverse population than the current demographic.

NextGen members support the ATC in communicating effectively about the relevancy of the organization to a broader audience; advocating for stewardship of the Trail; forging new partnerships with youth and multicultural organizations; and supporting innovative projects to expand access to Trail resources.

To learn more about the A.T. Next Generation Advisory Council, click here.

Partnerships for Youth Engagement

Georgia Mountains Children’s Forest Network

The Georgia Mountains Children’s Forest Network creates opportunities for diverse young Georgians to experience and explore the national forest in their backyard. By enhancing and expanding successful programs offered through strong Forest Service partnerships, this Children’s Forest Network cultivates an understanding of public lands and fosters participation in the care of these lands.

Despite having 875,000 acres of national forest lands in Georgia within 2 hours of major metropolitan areas, many youth in north Georgia and metro-Atlanta have little awareness of these places. Urban and rural youth alike often lack opportunities to participate in life-changing experiences in the outdoors.

The network focuses on addressing the cultural and financial obstacles that exist for underrepresented youth in making a connection to these places that belong to them.

The Children’s Forest is an inclusive effort that connects communities, land managers, and non-profits to provide a wide-range of innovative programs to engage Georgians in fostering healthy, sustainable connections to the outdoors. The network shows how innovation through collaboration can increase the effectiveness of these programs.


Founding Partners


Follow @childrensforestnetwork

Maine Youth Trail Stewardship Coalition (MYTaSC)

The Maine Youth Trail Stewardship Coalition (MYTaSC) was started in 2015 to broaden opportunities for young people in Maine to steward our public trails. Each year, MYTaSC holds a series of skills-building events and workshops to teach youth about trail building, trail maintenance, Leave No Trace principles, and emergency and outdoor preparedness. The Coalition also connects young people with trail-related job opportunities in Maine and along the Appalachian Trail.

Coalition members include the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, the Appalachian Mountain ClubMahoosuc Pathways, the Maine Conservation CorpsUnity College, and Maine Huts and Trails. For additional information about MYTaSC and upcoming events, visit the Coalition’s Facebook page.

Massachusetts Youth (MY) Trails Summit

The MY Trails Summit initiative aims to expand youth engagement in Massachusetts and the surrounding regions by creating connections and building ideas for inspiring and sustaining stewardship along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and on all public lands. Collectively, youth and adult leaders, organizations, educators, and agencies can create an innovative and collaborative network for regional youth that will catalyze opportunities to promote Trail stewardship and employment.

At the Summit, participants are able to increase their technical trail and leadership skills by learning about trail maintenance and land management, hiker education, leadership, and citizen science opportunities, as well as build face-to-face relationships among potential collaborators and employers.

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Kids and Families

Whether you’re home on a cold, blustery day wishing you could get outside, or trying to plan your first day hike as a family – this is the page for you!

The Appalachian Trail is a Trail for all – young and old, experienced and novice alike. That means it’s a Trail for you, too!

Here you’ll find resources for kids and families to help you learn about and explore the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, including:

  • The A.T. Adventure Book
  • ATC’s Family Hike Planning Guide
  • Suggestions of family-friendly day hikes along the A.T.
  • Games and activities to play on the Trail or in your backyard!

Explore the Trail with your family



Finding your next adventure on the Appalachian Trail – the world’s longest hiking-only footpath – is as easy as defining the challenge: to hike, to explore, or to give-back. Find tips and resources to make your next chosen adventure a success.

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Our Partners

We’ve partnered with some amazing organizations as we engage and cultivate the next stewards of the Appalachian Trail.