The Appalachian Trail: Is it getting too crowded?

Hiking the A.T.

Mt. Katahdin-Maine

A friend recently sent me this newspaper article about hikers  overcrowding the Appalachian Trail  I’ve been hearing a lot about this in recent years and, in the south, in spring, it appears to be true.

When I thru-hiked the A.T. in 2003, it was crowded then, I thought. The shelters up to Damascus, VA were nearly always full. And many hikers, especially in Georgia and North Carolina, would set up under overhanging roofs to the sides and even in front of shelters. I can remember being in one shelter where we were packed inside like sardines. After that night, I tented, unless I was fortunate enough to arrive early and get a spot next to a wall where I could hang a few things and get a bit more privacy.

So, I can imagine how crowded it must be now. Added to this, the article tells of large gathered groups of hikers summiting Mt. Katahdin en masse, the northern terminus in Baxter State Park. The hikers stray outside the trail corridor into sensitive habitat. I’m sure this is happening on other parts of the trail. I’ve been hearing accounts of more litter simply left by hikers on the A.T. and, sadly, larger groups drinking to excess and using recreational drugs.

I’m not sure what the answer is to this increased usage of the A.T. The article speaks to the issues and poses a few possible solutions. I’ll leave it at that.

at stone plaque

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s