Harpers Ferry, WV — In order to enhance the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) experience for thru-hikers and better manage this natural resource, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), in cooperation with its partners, has launched a new voluntary registration system for those attempting to hike the estimated 2,185-mile-long Trail in one year. This registration system, available at www.appalachiantrail.org/
In recent years, the A.T. thru-hike experience has at peak use times suffered severe overcrowding at the southern end of the Trail. Crowding intensifies because hikers tend to start thru-hikes around specific dates, such as March 1, March 17, and especially April 1 and weekends. Overcrowding puts undue pressure on the finite number of shelters and campsites and on the water, plants and wildlife near these accommodations. When too many people are crammed together at campsites, vegetation is trampled, trash may accumulate and unsanitary conditions can ensue. These issues that arise due to overcrowding are detrimental not only to the A.T. but also to the hiker’s overall experience.
“With a large number of new hikers expected along the Appalachian Trail in 2015 and 2016, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy hopes that this new voluntary thru-hike registration system will allow hikers to know in advance when overcrowding along the Trail will exist, and then adjust a thru-hike start date to his or her advantage – the solution is simple, the hikers need to spread out,” said Morgan Sommerville, the ATC’s regional director.
Users of this voluntary registration system should keep in mind that it does not provide hikers with guaranteed spaces along the A.T. or serve as a substitute for any required permits. At this time, registration is only open for 2015. Registration for 2016 will be available on Dec. 1, 2015.
For more information about this new system, visit www.appalachiantrail.