Washington, D.C.—According to a new assessment released today by the National Parks Conservation Association NPCA and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy ATC, one of the most beloved recreational footpaths in the United States, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, faces many challenges that put the experience of visitors and trail resources at risk. Adjacent land development on privately owned land, sources of air pollution, and funding shortfalls impacts the ability of trail managers to protect historic structures and preserve trail resources.
“The Appalachian Trail attracts millions of hikers each year, and we must ensure its unique American experience is protected for future generations to enjoy,” said Ron Tipton, NPCA’s senior vice president of policy. “This report demonstrates clearly that a strong commitment by government agencies and trail advocates is essential to preserve the AT’s unique natural and cultural values for future generations.”
Ranger Supervisor Tammy McCorkle shares her experiences, and those of other day hikers and thru-hikers, of what it’s like to hike the Appalachian Trail in the Fall 2002 edition of The Natural Resource Magazine.
Forty miles of the Appalachian Trail run through Maryland. From Harpers Ferry, the trail follows the Potomac River on three miles of the C&O Canal towpath, then climbs South Mountain at Weverton Cliff. From there the AT follows the ridgeline of South Mountain all the way to Pennsylvania, mostly through state and federal lands. Here, as elsewhere along the trail, overnight shelters for backpackers are located about one day’s walk apart. Some of these are historic, built by the CCC in the early 1940s. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club has also built two new shelters during the last few years, naming one after Ed Garvey.
The Maryland portion of the AT passes through significant historic sites comprising South Mountain Recreation Area, including: Gathland State Park, home of the War Correspondents Arch; South Mountain State Battlefield, site of the Civil War battle that took place in Crampton’s Gap, Fox’s Gap and Turner’s Gap; Washington Monument State Park, location of the first monument to George Washington; and Greenbrier State Park, which boasts a 44-acre lake. Hardy hikers find breathtaking scenic vistas at Weverton Cliff, White Rock, Washington Monument, Annapolis Rock, Black Rock and High Rock worth the climb.