November 5, 2021

Trailway News: What Were You Thinking, Benton?

Did you wake up to frost on your tent this week? Many sections of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) recently got a taste of winter weather, with temperatures plunging to freezing (or below) along much of the Trail. Before you head out for any upcoming adventures, check out our tips for hiking in wintry conditions and make sure you are prepared in case the weather takes a turn for the chilly.



Newly graduated Benton MacKaye in July 1900 walks a Vermont road on the backpacking trip during which, from atop Stratton Mountain, he had his clear epiphany of a trail along the Appalachian Mountains. Photo courtesy of Dartmouth College Library.

What Were You Thinking, Benton?

Benton MacKaye has been labeled many things over time — wilderness advocate, political radical, philosopher, dreamer — but each of these descriptions tells only part of his story on the way to envisioning the Appalachian Trail in 1921.



Native Lands

“For Indigenous peoples, recognizing, showing respect, and walking graciously on another people’s territory has been customary for thousands of years.” 

The A.T. traverses 14 states, but did you know it also travels through 22 Native Nation’s traditional territories? Each Nation is unique and has an abundance of Indigenous history, traditions, cultures, and stories. Trey Adcock, Director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the University of North Carolina and Executive Director of The Center for Native Health, explains that land acknowledgment starts with recognizing and respecting that you are on the lands of an Indigenous people.


From the lands of the Cherokee to the Penobscot, the A.T. Native Lands Territory map was created using data from the Native Land Digital Map to educate A.T. visitors about the history of the land before the Trail was built. If you would like to learn more about the land you are residing on, check out You can also learn more about the A.T. and connections to Indigenous lands in our latest Ed-Venture — more info below!


Trails Connect

Interacting with the A.T. comes in many forms. Each of us has a story to tell about the experiences that led us to discover the Trail and the broader A.T. community. Below are a couple of those stories that led to a long-lasting Trail connection.


Neville Harris

Woods Hole Hostel Owner

“Growing up, I would visit my grandmother, Tillie Wood, each summer, who with my grandfather, Roy Wood, found the land and log cabin that is now Woods Hole Hostel in Pearisburg, Virginia.”



Matt Drury

ATC Resource Management Coordinator

“My relationship with the A.T. is both personal and professional, and the lines are frequently blurred. The A.T. is a footpath that connects many of my beloved places in the southern Appalachians, often serving as the vantage point or the backdrop as I interact with the landscape.”


Looking for more Trails Connect stories? Check out our Trails Connect page to read the stories of other people who have found a connection to the Trail.



Your Path to Holiday Cheer!

Looking for the perfect gift for the A.T. fan on your list? Check out the Ultimate A.T. Store® 2021 Holiday Gift Guide and get a head start on your holiday shopping! All proceeds help support our mission to protect, manage, and advocate for the Trail.



In Other News…


Beavers Cause Flooding on the A.T. in Massachusetts

Ah, the wonders of nature! Heavy rain and flooding at Hop Brook near Tyringham, Mass., led a family of beavers to relocate closer to the Trail. The resulting beaver dam has now flooded roughly one mile of the footpath. We expect this water to recede shortly and for the beaver family to move back to their original homes. This section is currently open for hiking, but an optional “dry” detour can be found on our Trail Updates page.



Create Responsibly

The Recreate Responsibly Coalition has just launched their Create Responsibly Guide, which is designed to help media creators and artists leave a positive impact on areas where they create content. Learn how to Create Responsibly while inspiring your audiences to explore and discover the outdoors!



Your Next Ed-Venture

Join us as we continue our virtual A.T. Ed-Venture Series, created for young people but engaging for all ages! Our next session premieres on November 17, with speakers Jay Levy and Trey Adcock exploring and acknowledging the contributions of Native and Indigenous people across the Appalachian Mountain range.


Community Spotlight

Want to be featured in our community spotlight? Follow us on Instagram at @appalachiantrail and use #atcspotlight in your post!

Happy Trails!

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