Eight months ago, I wrote the post Stay Alert. Be Smart. Hoping not to be controversial, I need to expand on this.
Fact: Since 1974, there have been nine documented murders on the Appalachian Trail. That’s just the A.T. And I haven’t researched hiking or camping murders off-trail.
Here is one account that details an A.T. murder, in this case two women slain in Virginia in 1996. The A.T. also averages one rape every three years.
With over three million hikers visiting various sections of the Appalachian Trail per year, the A.T. is relatively safe. But you need to stay alert and act smart. Hike with friends, and if something doesn’t feel right at a campsite, move on. Many of the attacks took place at or near shelters. I don’t think it is wise to overnight in a shelter alone; wait for other hikers to show up.
In some of these documented cases, attacks were made on two people hiking together and both were murdered. I can’t find an incident where three or more hikers were attacked. So, hike with friends. In the wilds, there is safety in numbers.