The Appalachian Trail or the AT as it is known to hikers, is a continuous marked footpath that stretches for 2160 Miles, all the way from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. All in all the Appalachian trail passes through 14 states. It is the oldest continuous footpath in North America, and probably the world. The first person to thru hike (that is hike the entire trail) was Earl Schaeffer in 1948. The normal trek will last between 5-6 months, and the hiker must overcome difficult terrain, and extreme weather.

In hiking the Appalachian Trial you climb and descent 470,000 feet of elevation which is equivalent to 400 trips up and down the Empire State Building in NY or climbing Mount Everest 16 times in a row from sea-level.
There have been 9 homicides along the trail.

2/3 of the nations population lives within 550 miles of AT

Total AT Hikers...As of March, 2001, the ATC records show that 5,963 people have reported completing the AT. Of these, about 70% were Northbounders, 20% section-hikers, and 10% other (Southbounders, Flip-floppers, other).

In 1989, Roland Mueser, a thru-hiker and retired physicist, did an extensive survey of 136 AT thru-hikers. (His findings are recorded in a fascinating book, Lessons from the Appalachian Trail). Mueser found that of the non-finishers (85 percent, in his study), 35 percent lost interest or became homesick. Time commitments to jobs or school forced another 25 percent off the trail. Sickness and injury derailed 17 percent. 10 percent couldn't stand the weather. And 10 percent ran out of money.

Of all the people who start the trail each year (about 2000-3000) only 16% will complete it.

The fastest record trip, with no support system was 61 days in 1991, by Wade Leonard. Average speed was 2.8 miles per hour.

Average weight loss for thru-hikers is 20 pounds. A thru-hiker burns between 4000 - 6000 calories per day.

If you have a 27" stride (about right for someone 5'6") it will take around 5 million steps. If you are 6' tall, probably only about 4,583,000 steps are needed.

A grandmother, Emma Gatewood of Ohio, hiked the trail in sneakers in 1952.

The first man to report a thru-hike was Earl Shaffer in 1948. He walked in again in 1965, and at the age of 79, again in 1998. Earl passed away earlier this year.

A blind man, Bill Irwin, hiked the trail with his Seeing Eye dog, Orient.

There are more than 250 shelters on the trail, about one every 10 miles. Most are "lean tos' - they only have three sides.

One-fourth of the entire trail, about 550 miles, lies in Virginia. Beautiful rhododendrons and azaleas bloom in June and July.

The highest point on the trail is Clingman's Dome at 6643' above sea level. The lowest point, 124 feet above sea level, is found near Bear Mountain, NY.

Snow can fall on Mount Washington (White Mountains of NH) any month of the year.

Only about three miles of the trail is entirely in West Virginia.

The trail passes an oak tree in NY that is over 300-years old.

Each year between 3 and 4 million people hike part of the AT in their home state.

The idea to build a trail began with a man named Benton MacKaye. He was a forester and planner. He dreamed of a trail stretching the entire length of the Appalachian Mountains, the oldest chain in the United States. He hoped people who lived in cities and towns would use the trail to see the forest. It took 15 years to build.

A group called the Appalachian Trail Conference, made up of thousands of volunteers, helped plan and build the trail. Today its members protect and take care of it, working closely with local clubs, the National Park Service, and the USDA Forest Service.

The borders of Tennessee and North Carolina sometimes share the trail so a hiker while hiking along can have one foot in Tennessee and another in North Carolina.