With the film of Bill Bryson’s book A Walk in the Woods in cinemas the USA’s Appalachian Trail is braced for more hikers.
Affectionately known as the AT, we thought we’d celebrate the launch of the film with some top facts about the trail:
- The trail was conceived by Benton MacKaye, a forester who wrote his original plan shortly after the death of his wife in 1921
- It stretches for 2,180 miles from its rolling beginnings in Georgia to its craggy finish in Maine
- It was the inspiration for the UK’s Pennine Way
- The Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season
- In 1948, Earl Shaffer of York, Pennsylvania, completed the first documented thru-hike
- In 2014, only 714 of the 2,742 hikers registered for the trail with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy completed the full trek – a success rate of one in four.
- The trail has seen a steady 10% increase in hikers since 2010, with an estimated three million people hiking some portion of it each year
- The path is maintained by 31 trail clubs and multiple partnerships
- In 2014 more than 5,000 volunteers spent a staggering 241,936 hours working on maintaining the trail
- The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail form what is known as the Triple Crown of long-distance hiking in the United States.
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