October 15, 2021
Trailway News: 100 Years in the Making
One hundred years ago this month, Benton MacKaye published a visionary article proposing what he called “the Appalachian Trail.” A century later, his vision-turned-reality connects millions of people to the awesome beauty of the Appalachian Mountains where they find communion with nature, new adventures, or even a simple walk in the woods.
Over the next several weeks, we will be celebrating the lasting legacy of MacKaye’s vision — how it came to be, and, importantly, the work ahead of us all — through a series of articles, videos, artwork, and personal stories about the deep connections made with this one-of-a-kind footpath.
For more about the impact MacKaye’s article continues to have on the Trail, its surrounding lands, and its community of doers and dreamers, visit appalachiantrail.org/mackaye100.
The Work Ahead
By Sandra Marra, ATC President & CEO
We are not done. One hundred years after Benton MacKaye’s publication of “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning,” we are, at best, halfway to realizing the vision he set out in 1921.
This is in no way to detract from what has been accomplished in the last hundred years: A continuous footpath of 2,193 miles flanked by a protective corridor of more than 250,000 acres, home to thousands of plant and animal species, including 2,000 classified as rare, threatened, endangered, and/or sensitive. To the millions who step foot on the treadway each year, the Appalachian Trail represents both physical challenge and spiritual renewal. For the thousands who volunteer to manage and maintain it, the Trail is an accomplishment, a personal legacy, and a place to blend stewardship with camaraderie. In 100 years, we have created an iconic place, steeped in ideals and mythology but grounded in sweat and perseverance.
But, this was not the idea — or at least not the whole idea. MacKaye, while recognizing the broad appeal of a continuous trail that allowed for wilderness recreation, really had a much more ambitious, and (dare we say it!) more revolutionary, concept in mind when he penned his 1921 paper.
A.T. Bear Canister Lending Program Launches in Georgia
A new program has made keeping food safe from bears much easier! The ATC and its partners recently launched the Georgia Bear Canister Lending Program, giving hikers a chance to easily store their food, help protect bear populations from negative interactions with hikers, and have more flexibility in where they camp — no tricky food hangs required!
Hiking in Vermont? Check out the Green Mountain Club’s Bear Canister Lending Program. Special thanks go to BearVault, who donated the canisters that will help keep people and wildlife safe on the Trail.
One of the most important parts of the A.T. experience is the personal connection we make with the Trail. As part of our Benton MacKaye celebration, we asked hikers, conservationists, ATC staff members, and others to share how they fell in love with the A.T. Here are just a few of their responses…
Colleen “Teala” Peterson
ATC Board Member
“Slow the pace (on the Trail and in life), observe the surroundings (on the A.T. and in life), appreciate the small things, which are often the big things — on the Trail and in life.”
Derick “Mr. Fabulous” Lugo
A.T. Thru-Hiker and Author
“My A.T. journey became a part of who I am: not necessarily a hiker or an outdoor enthusiast, but a person who understands the need to relate to nature and how nurturing nature is for our mind, body, and soul.”
Photo by Horizonline Pictures
Preparing for Fall A.T. Adventures
With colorful foliage and cooler temperatures creeping their ways down the Trail, many of us are planning our fall A.T. adventures! Our Hiker Resource Library can help — from gear checklists to webinars with ATC staff and thru-hikers, this growing database can help you start your next hike on the right foot.