Hikers: This week’s most important birthday isn’t on your Facebook
The Appalachian Trail has been captivating hikers, pioneers and adventure seekers for more than seven decades. And in honor of its 75th birthday this year, we at HellaWella salute this iconic trail.
A brief history
In the early 20th century, the idea of building a super trail on the East Coast was already a popular topic among hiking enthusiasts and academics. Then in 1921, the publication of “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning” in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects set the idea in motion, with Benton MacKaye, a former forester and government analyst, providing a blueprint for building a trail along the Appalachian Mountains that would provide a refuge from the city.
In 1925, the first Appalachian Trail conference convened with the purpose of organizing workers to building the trail. By 1932, under the leadership of a young lawyer named Myron Avery, building the trail became a hiking focused cause. Avery oversaw a group of activists tasked with working with national parks and other federal agencies, publishing guidebooks and maps, as well as other efforts, to establish the trail.
On Aug. 14, 1937, the Appalachian Trail — a continuous 2,000 miles from Mount Oglethorpe, Ga., to Baxter Peak on Mount Katahdin in central Maine — was completed.
Conquering the trail
Each year, thousands of hikers attempt to complete the 2,000-mile trail, navigating through farmland, steep climbs and valleys. With many parts of the trail consisting of long, difficult climbs, only about 1-in-4 hikers complete the journey each year. Each year, thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike; only about one in four make it all the way. Since 1937, 12,662 people have completed the journey.
A path worth protecting
The Appalachian Trail is an important part of the United States, and maintaining it for future generations is essential. Volunteers are always needed in such areas as trail maintenance and protection, monitoring invasive species and education. If you can’t work on the trail directly, monetary support is also welcomed.
Tell us: Have you ever hiked the Appalachian Trail? Share your story below.