Trailway News: Look Out for Invasive Species

Trailway News header - February 24, 2023

 Photo by Konnarock Trail Crew members at Beartown Mountain 

February may be the shortest month of the year, but there’s still a lot happening on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Explore some of the latest news from the Trail, including our work removing invasive species, our latest blog about sites of historical significance in Harpers Ferry, and more!

Volunteers work together to remove the invasive plant Asiatic bittersweet from the Trail

Photo by Matt Drury featuring volunteers removing invasive Asiatic bittersweet

Wrapping Up National Invasive Species Awareness Week

This week was National Invasive Species Awareness Week! The ATC and our partners are working to help preserve native plants and animals and minimize the impacts of invasive species on the A.T. You can help protect the A.T. by learning to identify common invasive species on the Trail and knowing what to do if you see them.

If you’re interested in a career in conservation that helps native species thrive, the ATC is currently seeking a Non-Native Invasive Species Coordinator! This position is based in Asheville, North Carolina, and will be responsible for invasive species management along the A.T. in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia. Visit or click below to learn more.

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Aerial photo of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Photo by Brad Holzwart

Post-Civil War Harpers Ferry and African American History

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, is perhaps best known as the site of John Brown’s Raid, a pivotal moment in U.S. history that ultimately helped spark the American Civil War. Yet after the war ended, Harpers Ferry took on a very different role, particularly for African Americans as they pursued better lives, higher education, and equality under the law in post-slavery America.

Read our latest blog post to learn more about the many landmarks in African American history you’ll pass when hiking through Harpers Ferry.

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Great Smoky Mountains Ridgerunner collects a blanket left behind on the Trail

Great Smoky Mountains Ridgerunner Eric Wedding packs out a blanket left on the Trail

Ridgerunners are on the Trail in the South

If you’ve hiked on the A.T. during its busy season, you might have crossed paths with a Ridgerunner — a cheerful, Trail-tested individual that lives and works on the Trail. The primary role of a Ridgerunner is to educate hikers about Leave No Trace principles, but they also conduct overnight site maintenance and other Trail-maintaining tasks like clearing downed trees and remediating damage from fire pits.

If you’re hiking the southern sections of the A.T., be sure to say hello to the Georgia and Great Smoky Mountains Ridgerunners you may see!

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Photo by Gary “Green Giant” Sizer at Cheoah Bald

Time’s Almost Up: Submit Your Georgia Photos for a Chance to Win

We want to highlight the unique character and beauty of the A.T. as it passes through each state — and we need your help to do it! Remember to share your photos of Georgia by February 26 — your photo might be featured in an ATC publication, and one random photographer will be chosen to win an A.T. T-shirt and other assorted prizes!

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Trail Updates


Rock Gap Shelter has officially reopened for public use. The Nantahala Hiking Club recently completed the rebuild of the shelter, which will provide more space for visiting hikers.

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Great Smoky Mountain National Park backcountry and parking fee changes go into effect next week. Beginning March 1, 2023, the fee for backcountry permits in the Park will increase to $8 per person per night for the general backcountry permit, or $40 for the A.T. thru-hiker permit.

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Prescribed burns may cause temporary Trail closures. The U.S. Forest Service will conduct a prescribed burn near Glade Mountain later this spring. The A.T. may be closed during the burn. Remember to check our Trail Updates page to see the latest A.T. conditions and closures.

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In Other News…

Cozy up with a book on A.T. history – Historian, podcast host, and lifelong hiker, Mills Kelly tells the story of a previous 300-mile section of the A.T. that has been all but lost to history in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Check out Virginia’s Lost Appalachian Trail!

Erwin and Unicoi County, Tennessee, celebrate the A.T. – A recent segment by WJHL News highlights the symbiotic relationship between Erwin and Unicoi County with the A.T. and hikers.

Register your hike on – Are your 2023 hiking plans are getting real? Register your hikes at to help prevent crowding at shelters and campsites and stay informed about Trail conditions.

Community Spotlight

@codywanders captures the blue and purple glow of an Appalachian sunset

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

Happy Trails!

Thank you for your continued support and the love you express for the Trail!

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